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Global Mennonite enviro task force established

Joyce Ngumbao and her husband Pius Kisumo stand in a corn and bean field on their farm in Kwa Kavisi, Kenya, that is not planted using conservation agriculture techniques, but was prepared using conventional methods of plowing and scattering seed. These crops are stunted and not growing well. When they can afford to hire help, they want to plant this field with conservation agriculture methods too. (Photo by Matthew Lester)

The water pump at MCC partner Sembrandopaz’s experimental farm just outside of Sincelejo, Colombia. The Montes de María region of Colombia is suffering a shortage of water due to a combination of factors, including aggressive land clearing and droughts worsened by climate change, as well as poor infrastructure. The experimental farm is home to one of the only functional water pumps in the surrounding area, and throughout the day local residents come to the farm to fill up containers. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Sibonokuhle Ncube of Zimbabwe is a member of the new MWC creation-care task force. (MCC photo by Brenda Burkholder)

The mandate of a new Mennonite World Conference (MWC) creation care task force states that, “MWC is a global communion of Anabaptist churches that are together facing the climate crisis.” It then asks:  “What does it mean to follow Jesus into this crisis?”

The task force is to: 

Pandemic shifts Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue online

Members of the Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue met online this year because of COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic on congregations in the two denominations were front and centre in the discussions. (Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue screenshot)

The Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue scrapped plans for a meeting at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., this spring, due to pandemic restrictions but met electronically on May 29 and 30.

Embracing disequilibrium

Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaks during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

Sharon Schultz maintains that the quality that should characterize the church of the future is hope. Speaking during a local power outage, her words seemed to offer a light in the darkness during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

“We have to embrace the disequilibrium we feel right now and let it teach us what it needs to teach us,” said Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaking at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s virtual town hall event, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.”

Albertans raise money in creative ways for MCC

Sierra Janzen, two-year-old granddaughter of Abe Janzen, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Alberta, is swinging for 100 minutes to raise money for this year’s Go!100 challenge (Photo by Abe Janzen)

Deb Kirkpatrick from Edmonton First Mennonite Church is praying 100 times through prayer labyrinths to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. On this day she is praying with a hand-held clay labyrinth. (Photo by Deb Kirkpartrick)

One hundred homemade tarts were made by 12-year-old Kai Willms from Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary to raise money for MCC’s Go! 100 challenge. (Photo by Deanna Willms)

The Harder family in High Level, Alta., commit to collectively “move” 100 kilometres by biking, hiking, walking and skateboarding before the end of June to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. Pictured from left to right: Khyrin, Tyrell and Josiah. (Photo by Ashley Harder)

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld and her horse CD trot for 100 kilometres around Sherwood Park, Alta., during MCC's Go!100 fundraiser. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

No soup and pie fundraiser in Rosemary. No Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta relief sale in Sherwood Park. No golf fundraisers with barbecued lunches.

Coins count, and so do bottles

Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church members meet in Brian and Delilah Roth’s farm shop to sort and crush bottles donated through their bottle drive. Pictured from left are Brenda Isaak, Brooklyn Isaak, Denise Epp, Jeanette Hanson, Todd Hanson, Lloyd Schmidt and Cheryl Schmidt. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Four pick-up trucks laden with bottles and other refundable items prepare to leave the Roth farm for the recycling depot in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Brenda Isaak, Ashtyn Isaak and Larry Epp carry bags of bottles to the recycling depot in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Every Saturday in May, Rosthern Mennonite Church members drove the streets of Rosthern, picking up bottles and other refundable beverage containers.

MC Saskatchewan launches online Sunday school for children

Miriam and Pilgram Wallace enjoy attending Sunday school and connecting with their friends online. (Photo by Josh Wallace)

Mennonite Church Saskatchewan is offering Sunday school for children via Zoom. Josh and Cindy Wallace started hosting the half-hour sessions at the end of May.

So far, about eight families, with children ranging from 3 to 10 years of age, have participated. They represent four or five congregations.

‘Superb helped me continue to have faith’

Regular attenders celebrate Superb Mennonite’s 70th anniversary in 2015. (Photo by Marg Olfert)

Superb Mennonite Church (Photo by Lois Siemens)

“I think they’re going to grieve for a while,” says Lois Siemens of Superb Mennonite Church, which held its final worship service on May 31.

The church building, located 212 kilometres west of Saskatoon near Kerrobert, was home to a small but thriving congregation for more than 75 years. It took its name from the hamlet of Superb, where 10 Mennonite families settled in 1927.

Making their world a more beautiful place

Wendell Manuzon, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, picks up trash in his neighbourhood as part of his ALSO experience. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

Josie Hogan, left, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, delivers cookies to her neighbour’s doorstep as part of her ALSO experience. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

Tianna Bartsch, a Grade 11 student at RJC High School, makes her world more beautiful by painting her living room window as part of the school’s ALSO Week activities. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

RJC High School students Maddy Cornish and Andres Proanos rake leaves as part of their ALSO experience. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

For many students at Rosthern Junior College (RJC High School), ALSO Week is one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of their school year.

ALSO stands for Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities. Each spring during ALSO Week, students leave campus for a variety of destinations to learn about and serve vulnerable people in those communities.

B.C. thrift shops open again for business

Despite the rain, customers line up patiently to enter the Mennonite Central Committee Centre thrift shop in Abbotsford on re-opening day, May 25. Thrift shops in B.C. had been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

After more than two months of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the 10 Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia thrift shops were reopening with limited hours by the end of May.

COVID camp closures

Camps across the country are cancelling their summer programs. (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CampSqueah)

B.C. children will not be able to attend Camp Squeah this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Camp Squeah of Hope, B.C. has cancelled its 2020 camping season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a May 15 statement, camp director Rob Tiessen wrote, “In order to best ensure the health of our campers and staff, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 summer camp session. This applies to all day and overnight camp programs, including Family Camp.”

‘We want to tell the story’

The original diaries of Johannes D. Dyck (1826-1898) tell, among other things, the stories of his adventures in America, including an escape from an ambush during the California Gold Rush. (Photo by Conrad Stoesz)

In the doll that Johannes J. Dyck (1885-1948) gave his daughter he hid money and smuggled it past guards as he and his family escaped Russia by train in 1927. (Photo by Conrad Stoesz)

A Mennonite man escapes an ambush during the California Gold Rush because he had a fast horse. We know his story because he left behind a set of diaries. 

The ‘sewists’ of Waterloo Region

Bev Suderman-Gladwell, right, and her son Nathan model some of the gowns sewed for frontline workers by a group of volunteers in Waterloo Region. The group has also added scrub caps and masks to the lists of supplies its members are sewing. (Photo by Andrea Deering Nagy)

When Bev Suderman-Gladwell was asked by a physician friend to “leverage her Mennonite connections,” to respond to a time-sensitive need, she had no way of knowing an “extraordinary project” would grow out of that request.

Bread in many forms

Sami and Amina (real names withheld for security purposes) were displaced from their home in Aleppo, Syria. This photo was taken in February 2018 in the home where the family of seven lives in Breike, in the Qalamoun valley. They receive monthly food packages from MCC through local partners. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

In the Mubimbi camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nsimire Mugoli and her husband, Chubaka Birhonoka, cook beans and porridge made with ingredients from their emergency food distribution in early February 2020. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

A century ago, bread was the beginning of the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Relief kitchens in Ukraine (then southern Russia) fed families who had been displaced and were starving. Neighbours from around the world provided loaves of wholesome dark bread. 

Moving with the times

Arnie Nickel leads a 45-minute exercise session for seniors on Zoom. (Screenshot by Howard Giles)

After their exercise session, seniors remain online to visit. (Screenshot by Howard Giles)

Three times a week, Arnie Nickel leads a 45-minute exercise session for seniors on Zoom, a virtual-meeting app. Participants are enthusiastic and their numbers are growing.

Century-old photos shed new light on Mennonites

Johann E. Funk took the cover photo for Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890–1940 in 1903.

Photographer Peter H. Klippenstein took this portrait in the 1910s. Subject unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Peter H. Klippenstein took this photo of the Altbergthal village road in the 1930s. Subjects unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Peter G. Hamm took this photo of a horse and wagon in the 1920s. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Hundred-year-old images on fragile glass negatives, discovered in a dusty barn in the heritage village of Neubergthal, Man., open a window to Mennonite life in Manitoba in the early 20th century.

CBC graduates class online

Ken Esau, professor of Old Testament at Columbia Bible College, blows a ram’s horn as he addresses the graduating class on what it means to seek first God’s kingdom. (Screen grab of Columbia Bible College 2020 commencement ceremony (YouTube))

Graduation for Columbia Bible College’s class of 2020 looked a little different this year. Rather than proudly walking across the stage in cap and gown to receive their diplomas, the graduates took part in a virtual online commencement ceremony on April 18. The college had dismissed classes earlier in the year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

‘We are one body’

Leah Reesor-Keller, the incoming MC Eastern Canada executive minister, is pictured at her computer while participating in the regional church’s annual gathering, this year via Zoom. (Photo by Luke Reesor-Keller)

Delegates to the MC Eastern Canada annual gathering voted electronically on motions presented as poll questions in the meeting held on April 25, through Zoom, a videoconferencing application. After the voting was completed, results were immediately available onscreen. (Photo by Virginia A. Hostetler)

“We are one body in Christ . . . even when scattered. We are members of one another. We can still encourage and pray for and learn from each other.”

Deepening their walk with each other in spite of social isolation

Terry Stefaniuk, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s moderator, welcomes delegates and guests to the regional church’s 2020 annual delegate sessions. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

Ryan Siemens, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s executive minister invites congregational representatives to share how their churches are coping with and adapting to social isolation. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

After a year spent exploring the theme, “Deepening our walk with each other,” Mennonite Church Saskatchewan continued, inadvertently, to ponder what this means during its annual delegate sessions (ADS).

When COVID-19 forced the postponement of the regional church’s annual general meeting, slated for mid-March, planners scheduled a virtual meeting, via Zoom, for April 25.

Kids talk COVID-19

Matoli and Zavi Braun deGroot enjoy the rhythms of farm life during the pandemic. (Photo by Will Braun)

COVID-19 has permeated the collective psyche. And although kids may not be watching The National or spending their coveted screen time on the Health Canada webpage, COVID-19 is on their minds. I asked several parents to ask their kids—aged 5 to 13—about the new reality. Below are some of their responses, verbatim. 

A new kind of ‘whiteout party’

The home windows of Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, who started the #whiteoutMB movement with Karen Schellenberg. (Photo by Moses Falco)

Tracy Enns, Carman Mennonite Church, joined in by decorating the windows of her workplace with hearts. (Photo courtesy of Karen Schellenberg)

Karen Schellenberg, Interim Pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, came up with the idea for #whiteoutMB. (Photo courtesy of Karen Schellenberg)

Over the past two years, thousands of Manitobans have gathered in the streets of Winnipeg to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets in the hockey playoffs. Many were hoping to don their all-white outfits and join these “whiteout parties” again this spring, but the novel coronavirus prevented that.

Mennonites explore virtual worship

The Easter worship service of Cedar Valley Church in Mission, B.C., was livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. It included singers and instrumentalists performing from separate locations, a message from Pastor Rob Ayer, and information about a Minecraft Easter egg hunt for children. (Photo from YouTube video)

“We’ve been thrown out of the boat and now we’re learning to walk on water!”

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