Dec 30, 2012

Taryn and Nathan Dirks

Nathan and Taryn Dirks, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers and recipients of our Pennies and Prayer Legacy Fund, are settling into their home in Gabarone, Botswana, where they are working with the African Initiated Church (AIC) teaching Bible and building relationships. Pray that they will feel at home in Botswana and develop close and meaningful connections there.  (Witness Worker Update 2013)  

You can email Nathan and Taryn at and follow their blog at

Christina and Darnell Barkman

We've received Christmas greetings from Christina and Darnell Barkman, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in the Philippines.  They are recipients of our Pennies and Prayer Legacy Fund.  Follow their daily activities and hear about their challenges and prayer requests on their BLOG. They share some fantastic photos!  

Christmas away from Home

Spending Christmas away from extended family and long-time friends can be a difficult experience and we hope this first Christmas away has not been too difficult for the two families we are supporting through Mennonite Church Canada's Witness Program -- Christina & Darnell Barkman with Cody and Makai and Taryn & Nathan Dirks.  I recall the Christmases of '02, '03, and '04 when my husband and I were in Santa Cruz, Bolivia serving a 3 year term with MCC.  Making new friends and learning a new culture and language were extremely challenging and my heart goes out to both families as they serve God in the Philippines and in Botswana.  

To read more about the Barkman's and the Dirks' please see the next two posts.  

Dec 24, 2012

A Christmas Prayer

Loving father,
Help us to remember the birth of Jesus, 
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wisemen.
Close the doors of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Our best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

~~ from the executive of Mennonite Women Canada

Dec 19, 2012

Advent Series in Vineland, Ontario

This Advent at Vineland United Mennonite Church, our pastors, Ross Penner and Greg Dueck, are presenting a series of sermons called "The Grandmothers of Messiah". Ross was inspired by a quilt designed and stitched by Brenda Suderman of Winnipeg which was on display at the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in July of this year.  The following is a description of the quilt written by Brenda.

Great Mothers of Jesus Quilt - Matthew 1:1-17

This quilt is a visual representation of the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew.  Five women--Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary--are included in this genealogy linking Abraham to Jesus, breaking the pattern of the 42 generations of men.  Each of the men is represented by a dark rectangle, and the women's names are spelled out giving them visual and theological significance.  I chose to spell out Bathsheba's name in pale letters to signify that she is not explicitly named in Matthew's genealogy, but described instead as the wife of Uriah.  

Too often these women have often been dismissed as prostitutes, called sexually deviant, or marginalized as outsiders.  The writer of Matthew clearly wanted to signify to his first century readers that these women had a place in the story of the patriarchs and their faithfulness to God.

What these women have in common are some obvious facts:  they are all mothers of sons, although none of them appear to be mothers before their stories appear in the Old Testament accounts, and they use ordinary objects like clothing or a red cord to advance their situations.  

Matthew includes them in his genealogy to present a message of God working in unlikely circumstances and unusual characters to achieve God's purpose, setting the stage for a young women like Mary to become the mother of Jesus.

I made this quilt for an assignment in a master's level course in the Old Testament I took at University of Winnipeg.  It has been on display at the University of Winnipeg, Providence College, the offices of the Canadian Council of Churches in Toronto and at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Vancouver in 2012, as well as in my home church in Winnipeg.

***Brenda Suderman is a journalist and quiltmaker currently completing a Masters of Arts degree in theology at the University of Winnipeg.  She writes for the faith page of the Winnipeg Free Press and is a member of Home Street Mennonite Church.  You might want to check out her blog HERE

Dec 14, 2012

2013 Lenten Guided Prayer from Mennonite Spiritual Directors of Eastern Canada.  Sign up to receive an individual and group prayer guide, based on the lectionary, for Lent.  A great potential women's group resource!  More information here.

Wow!  What a deal on a great book!  Now, only $4.99!  Order here.

Dec 13, 2012

Memories of a Childhood Christmas

Christmas Memories! 
I asked four women from my church community for a Christmas memory. 
Here is what they shared. 

Have a blessed Christmas.

Erna (82):  
On Christmas Eve, we children each put a clean plate at our place at the kitchen table and then went to bed. Early on Christmas morning, mom would waken us. We all got dressed and gathered at the kitchen door. Dad was waiting there with the coal-oil lamp. We entered the kitchen together and went to the table. On our plate was an orange, candy and peanuts and a small unwrapped present. 
We understood that the present was from Nate Claus. When I got older, mom told me that Nate Claus was just a story; I was a bit sad that he wasn't the source of my gift. 
We played with our presents while dad and my older brother did the farm chores. When they came back in, we had breakfast and got ready for the sleigh ride to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Jean (65): 
Because both the extended families lived quite a distance from our home, Christmas visits in either direction were rare. We celebrated at home by ourselves. 
On Christmas Eve, we children each put out a stocking for Santa to fill. The next morning, our stockings contained nuts, an apple and one Mandarin orange as well as our gifts. For many years I received a new pencil, a new eraser and a box of eight new crayons. It was a special gift because I loved to color. My September school crayons were already worn down with the paper pulled away. Whether or not I received a coloring book didn’t matter as much as having crayons with sharp points again. 
Dad oversaw the eating of the oranges. We had to lay out and count each segment before we could eat them. By eating our orange slowly and carefully, Dad taught us to really enjoy the taste of those special Christmas oranges.

Marlene (47): 
In my childhood home, the focus of Christmas was the presents from Santa Claus and being happy as a family. Granny didn't come every year but when she did, we were especially happy to have her with us.
My mother owned a shiny green housecoat that she wore only at Christmas. She did this for many years, and so it became a tradition to have mom in her green housecoat as we opened our gifts on Christmas morning. 
When our son was 4 or 5 years old, he was very excited that we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday. As his mom, I was really pleased that the message got through. I was an adult before I understood that Christmas is a Christian celebration of Christ’s coming, so I was grateful to God that my child was developing that awareness in his life. 

Ruth (24): 
In our family, we always wrapped our Christmas gifts to each other in nice Christmasy paper and we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve. 
One year, the 12-year old me was more than a little puzzled when there was no wrapped gift from my parents but only a simple white envelope. I was upset until I opened the envelope and found a printed clue. When I figured that out, I found another clue which led me to the living room sofa. There, tucked behind the cushions was my gift: a .22 shotgun. It had been too long and cumbersome to wrap, so mom made a game of hunting for it instead. Perhaps that was in keeping with the hunting that I’d learn from my dad. Both the game and the gift are a special memory for me. 

Dec 11, 2012

Have you written something for this year's Christmas program?

The Resource Centre welcomes submissions of original Christmas readings, liturgies, etc.

We share 2000 electronic files - from our offices and from our churches - via our website.

Why not add your material to the mix?  Please send to

For more information, click here.

Merry Christmas to all!

PS - leave a comment if you've found something from our website that's been useful for your planning -
we love to hear from you!

Dec 1, 2012

Along the Road to Freedom

Artist Ray Dirks has a new exhibit paying tribute to Mennonite parents - mainly women - who fled Russia under Stalin for the safety of Canada.  The exhibit is entitled "Along the Road to Freedom" and runs until January 26, 2013 at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery .  It honours Katherina Dirks Peters, sister to Dirks' grandfather and more than two dozen other women like her, whose stories should not be forgotten.  Click on Along the Road to Freedom  to read more.