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Navigating reopening

(Photo: flickr.com/Riccardo Cuppini)

Mount Royal Mennonite’s Garth Ewert Fisher speaks about his church’s reopening experience during MC Saskatchewan’s ‘Navigating reopening’ virtual meeting. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

During MC Saskatchewan’s “Navigating reopening” virtual meeting, Phyllis Goertz talks about Wildwood Mennonite’s decision to continue with online worship through the summer months. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

Across the nationwide church, there are likely as many approaches to reopening as there are congregations. Mennonite Church Saskatchewan recently hosted an online conversation about how congregations are meeting the challenges of reopening.

‘Engaging missionally with neighbours’

Members of Chinatown Peace Church, one of the MC British Columbia congregations receiving a grant from the regional church’s Mountainview Fund, gather for a summer worship service in a Vancouver park. (Photo courtesy of Tim Kuepfer)

Young adults from Chinatown Peace Church and Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship enjoy a midnight bike ride around Stanley Park in Vancouver. Crouching at right is Chan Yang, one of the interns being supported by the Mountainview Fund. (Photo courtesy of Tim Kuepfer)

Although Mountainview Mennonite Church in Vancouver closed its doors in 1996, its legacy lives on through several Mennonite Church British Columbia congregations. When Mountainview voted to disband due to declining membership, the remaining members decided that proceeds from the sale of the church property should be put into an endowment fund for future urban ministry in the region.

Cheering for the Leafs!

Marie Moyer and Dave Neufeldt in front of their net-zero energy home in Lethbridge, Alta. (Photo by Beth Moyer)

Nissan Leaf fan Tim Wiebe-Neufeld and his solar arrays in Edmonton. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Tim and Donita Wiebe-Neufeld of Edmonton First Mennonite Church own an electric Nissan Leaf car. Tim’s cousin, Arlyn Friesen Epp, owns a Leaf. Another cousin, Kendall Jongejan Harder, owns a Leaf. Tim laughs, “I guess our family cheers for the Leafs!”

Pressing for the peace of Jesus

Louie Vivra, left, Melise Michaline and Karin Florvil plant a breadfruit tree in a demonstration garden in Wopisa, Haiti, in 2016. The children participated in a kids club supported by MCC and Canadian Foodgrains Bank that focused on environmental conservation and sustainable agriculture. (MCC photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Issa Ebombolo, MCC’s peacebuilding coordinator for Zambia and Malawi, unloads cooking oil in the village of Tomali as part of MCC’s Cyclone Idai flood relief project in Malawi in 2019.(MCC photo by Amanda Talstra)

In 1994, bean seeds helped Burundians displaced by ethnic conflict toward a more hopeful future. MCC, with local Mennonites and others, assisted people (such as the unnamed woman and her child) affected by the genocide against the Tutsis by providing food, seeds, blankets and clothing, and by organizing peace and reconciliation seminars. (MCC photo by Dave Klassen)

Anna Janzen Funk, pictured here in 1920 just before her wedding, was the director of the first MCC relief kitchen in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine). (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies)

One hundred years ago, in 1920, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) began in response to drought, hunger and violence. Canadians were quick to answer the pleas of their global neighbours, although they themselves were recovering from a deadly flu pandemic at the time.

Fair-trade store emulates Ten Thousand Villages

Selling fair trade items, Kasandy/Locally Global in Vancouver continues in the spirit of Ten Thousand Villages stores. (Photo courtesy of Jackee Kasandy)

The Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) store in Vancouver has closed, but the idea of fair-trade products continues to inspire a new generation to shop both ethically and globally. Kasandy/Locally Global occupies the space that TTV formerly had on Granville Island.

Defeating Goliath

Ernie Hildebrand, standing at the microphone, speaks at the FEARO hearings regarding a proposed uranium refinery in the Warman, Sask., area, in 1980. (Photo courtesy of Jake Buhler)

More than 200 community members, many of whom were Mennonite, testified at the FEARO hearings regarding a proposed uranium refinery in the Warman, Sask., area, in 1980. (Photo courtesy of Jake Buhler)

Members of the Warman and District Concerned Citizens Group gather for a group photo. Pictured from left to right, front row: Wilfred Buhler and Jake Buhler; second row: Emille Van Pinxteren, Garry Boldt, and Edgar Epp, who was the organization’s second chair; and back row: Louise Buhler, Sam Rempel, Gertie Rempel, Leonard Doell, Peter Froese, Jeanie Van Pinxteren, Lyle Stucky and Ruth Buhler. Missing from the photo are Nettie Wiebe and Ernie Hildebrand. (Photo courtesy of Jake Buhler)

It’s been 40 years since David battled Goliath on the plains of Saskatchewan. David, in this case, was a group of ordinary citizens, many of whom were Mennonite, and Goliath was the nuclear industry.

MCC connects with supporters through digital media

Nadine Ens and her daughter Jenice tie knots in a comforter at the Great Winter Warm-up in Saskatoon on Jan. 18, to kick off MCC’s centennial. MCC is using a webinar series and new podcasts to share stories about its work in Canada and around the world. (MCC photo by Myriam Ullah)

Corinne Narine, left, her daughter Jaden Narine, and Ting Terrazas, all of Winnipeg, are tying their first comforter of the day at the Great Winter Warm-up, a comforter-tying event that was held across Canada, the United States and Europe to kick off MCC’s centennial on Jan. 18. In total, MCC received 9,504 comforters, exceeding the goal of 6,500. (MCC photo by Emily-Ann Doerksen)

Volunteer Gord Friesen helps load 210 completed comforters into a truck at the end of the Great Winter Warm-up event at North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg, on Jan 18. An MCC webinar episode, called ‘From hearts to hands: Material resources,’ describes meaningful volunteer opportunities for people to make and pack comforters and relief kits. (MCC photo by Emily-Ann Doerksen)

“One bar of soap isn’t just a drop in the ocean of need. The ripples keep moving out in ways we may not even be able to count.”

‘It’s a bit overwhelming’

Carol McNaughton hikes the Wasootch Ridge as a participant in the 2020 Camp Valaqua hike-a-thon fundraiser. (Photo by Hossein Talebi)

Lethbridge Mennonite Church and Springridge Mennonite Church in Pincher Creek, Alta., join forces to raise money for this year’s Camp Valaqua hike-a-thon. (Photo by Elaine Klassen)

Lorne Earl of Holyrood Mennonite Church, Edmonton, hikes along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, in support of the 2020 annual Camp Valaqua hike-a-thon fundraiser. (Photo by Patrick Earl)

Scott and Corinne Martens participate together in this year’s Camp Valaqua hike-a-thon fundraiser. (Photo by Corinne Martens)

Camp Valaqua received great news recently. As of Aug. 26, its annual hike-a-thon raised a record amount of $34,456, nearly double the previous record of $18,000. 

Ron Janzen, who is often the biggest fundraiser, beat his own record, raising more than $10,000 this year.

Why was so much raised in 2020?

Crisis in Lebanon

The Government of Canada is matching donations to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members, including Canadian Foodgrains Bank, to support families in crisis in Lebanon. (World Vision Canada photo)

The Government of Canada is matching donations to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members, including Canadian Foodgrains Bank, to support families in crisis in Lebanon. (World Vision Canada photo)

The Humanitarian Coalition salutes the commitment of the Canadian government to match the donations made to provide assistance to people in Lebanon after the disaster that devastated the city of Beirut, Lebanon.

Low German community in southwestern Ontario experiences persecution

Members of Low German-speaking Mennonite communities in southwestern Ontario have experienced public discrimination recently because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in their population. Incidents include negative online comments, cancelled playdates with children in the Low German community, and aggressive verbal attacks at the grocery store. 

Evangelical path to truth and reconciliation

Les Dysart of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. (Photo by Will Braun)

Robert Spence of Tataskweyak Cree Nation, 2013. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky / Courtesy of Interchurch Council on Hydropower)

I started out by digging into the commitments recently made by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) in relation to Indigenous peoples, commitments that include renouncing “white supremacy” and “unsettling” evangelical theology.

Resurrecting Emmanuel

Ronald Kleinsasser prays during a Sunday morning worship service at Emmanuel Church, near Langham, Sask. Since resuming in-person worship, the church has been livestreaming services on its Facebook page. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Pastor Ronald Kleinsasser indicates the portrait of Emmanuel Church’s first pastor, Andreas Stahl. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Pastor Ronald Kleinsasser stands in the cemetery of Emmanuel Church, a church with Hutterite as well as Mennonite roots. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Emmanuel Church maintains its original place of worship, dedicated 103 years ago, on Aug. 13 1917. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

It is not unusual to hear of a small rural church closing its doors. It is, however, a rare thing to hear about a rural church reopening after being closed for more than 40 years.

And yet this is the story of Emmanuel Church, a tiny congregation whose building is situated about 15 kilometres southwest of Langham, Sask., and 24 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

‘A different kind of ministry’

After 20 years as lead pastor of Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen has begun as dean of students at Columbia Bible College. (Columbia Bible College photo)

A longtime B.C. pastor and church leader is making a transition to a different kind of ministry.

After 30 years as a pastor, most recently of Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen began a new career chapter on Aug. 1 as dean of students at Columbia Bible College.

Graduating in a nursing home

Emily Unger’s mom, Tammy, is a Mennonite Nursing Home (MNH) resident. She escorted her daughter to MNH’s graduation celebration. (Photo by Darlene Klassen)

Don Regier, a resident of Pineview Manor, MNH’s assisted-living wing, accompanied his grandniece, Kate Hanson, to MNH’s graduation celebration. (Photo by Darlene Klassen)

Doug Knoll, a Mennonite Nursing Home (MNH) resident, escorted his granddaughter, Kendra Schlichemeyer, to MNH’s graduation celebration. (Photo by Darlene Klassen)

Mennonite Nursing Home honoured seven employees with a graduation celebration recently. Pictured, from left, are: Emily Unger, Hague High School; Kate Hanson, Rosthern Junior College; Kael Wilton, Waldheim High School; Micah Wood, Rosthern Junior College; Kendra Schlichemeyer, Rosthern High School; Rhoan Alfelor, Rosthern High School; and Alysia Wielinga, Rosthern High School. (Photo by Darlene Klassen)

Graduation was disappointing, or non-existent, for many high-school students this year thanks to COVID-19. So Karen Chaskavich and the team at Mennonite Nursing Home (MNH) held a graduation celebration of their own.

MWC signs statement against nuclear weapons

Paper cranes, a symbol of peace, hang in a window. (Unsplash photo by Danil Aksenov)

August 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Mennonite World Conference (MWC) has joined a wide coalition of faith-based communities from around the world that issued a call to governments to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

‘Remember your baptism’

Representatives of the Lutheran-Mennonite-Roman Catholic Trilateral Conversation on baptism include, from left to right: Alfred Neufeld, Theodor Dieter, Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, Marie-Hélène Robert, Larry Miller, Friederike Nüssel, Fernando Enns, John Rempel, Luis Melo, Kaisamari Hintikka, Musawenkosi Biyela, William Henn, Avelindo Gonzalez. (Photo by Wilhelm Unger)

The final report on the Lutheran-Mennonite-Roman Catholic Trilateral Conversation on baptism has been published. The report summarizes five years of theological consultations between the three communions on the understanding and practice of baptism in light of contemporary pastoral and missional challenges facing all three Christian communities.

'Butterfly whisperer' aids monarchs in Windsor

An eastern black swallowtail has just shed its skin and has moved to the next size of caterpillar. It will turn around and eat that skin before moving on to some parsley or dill. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

An eastern black swallowtail has just emerged from her cocoon (to her right). This was Susan K. Harrison’s first successful attempt to raise the insect from egg to butterfly. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

Harrison releases a monarch butterfly at a farm in LaSalle, Ont., where the owner, Dick Wood, has allowed the land to naturalize, nurturing biodiversity including monarch and swallowtail butterflies. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

‘The nursery’ in Harrison’s kitchen. Each cage has a test tube holder and tubes full of water that hold cuttings from milkweed that have monarch eggs or newborn caterpillars on them. The other tent has tubes of water holding cuttings of parsley with eastern black swallowtail eggs and newborn caterpillars on them. When they get old enough to pose a threat of eating the other eggs, they are moved to an outdoor cage, where they will eventually form their chrysalides. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

A newly released female monarch butterfly decides it is not ready to leave Harrison, so it walked up her arm and sat on her shirt for the rest of the afternoon. It flew away later that evening. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

Monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, and they only lay their eggs on the milkweed plant. Without an available supply of milkweed, they are at risk of extinction. To Harrison, they are pretty plants that people who want to help the monarch survive can easily incorporate it into their gardens. (Photo courtesy of Susan K. Harrison)

The human impact on climate and the Earth itself can often be seen on a massive scale. Think of the melting Arctic or check out the photographic work of Ed Burtynsky.

But Susan K. Harrison, a hospice chaplain and psychotherapist in Windsor, Ont., is doing her part to help on a much smaller and more local scale. 

Marking end-of-life rituals during the pandemic

An outdoor, physically distant, drive-by visitation was held in the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church parking lot for a senior member of the congregation who died this summer. (Photo by Mark Diller Harder)

Amid the restrictions of COVID-19, pastors and families are still finding creative and meaningful ways to mark, grieve and ritualize the deaths of loved ones. But no two funerals are the same, and there are added stressors, frustrations and disappointments. 

Former Ten Thousand Villages stores in Alberta rebrand

Assistant manager Alexandra Ketchum, left, and manager Roberta Taylor pose in front of the newly rebranded fair-trade store in Edmonton. The former Ten Thousand Villages store is now called Village Goods. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Villages Calgary manager Laura Pederson, left, and Maeva Kouakou, summer and marketing intern, stand next to their store’s mural painted in 2018 by local artist Daniel Kirk, son of store volunteer June Kirk. (Photo courtesy of Laura Pederson)

“What would it take to stay open?” asked members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) Society after the organization announced its closure in early January. Independently owned stores across Canada held emergency meetings to decide what to do next.

Voices Together announces No. 1 hymn

As Voices Together nears publication, the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee editorial team has assigned the roughly 750 songs across the table of contents and selected the song that will appear first in the collection. (MennoMedia photo)

As Voices Together nears publication, the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee editorial team has assigned the roughly 750 songs across the table of contents and selected the song that will appear first in the collection.

Hope and faith . . . even when things don’t go as planned

Prairie Mennonite Fellowship gathered for the first time at an outdoor worship service on June 28. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

Pastor Erin Morash speaks to Prairie Mennonite Fellowship at its first gathering. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

Prairie Mennonite Fellowship is located in the church building of former congregation Crystal City (Man.) Mennonite Church. Congregants and leaders are easily able to physically distance appropriately and are fine-tuning their worship to work during COVID-19. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

There is a new church among the farmlands of southwestern Manitoba, but it has more than a hundred years of history.

This spring, Crystal City Mennonite Church and Trinity Mennonite Fellowship in Mather merged to create the new Prairie Mennonite Fellowship congregation.

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