Nov 30, 2013

Community chaplaincy with women – ARISE

At the recent MCC Ontario fall meeting held in Kitchener ON, I attended a workshop called ARISE.  The description of the workshop was as follows:  "Join us for an interactive forum, including a performance of "Our Story", a play that features women from all walks of life and their experiences."  About 20 women attended the workshop.

"Our Story" is a dramatic presentation by Community Chaplain, Shauna Mayer, and her group of volunteers.  It was followed by a question and answer session. ARISE provides a supportive community for women who have experienced abuse, addiction or imprisonment in the Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener area. With short skits, music and visual props we heard about the issues affecting marginalized women.  Bricks representing chaos, control, hatred, abuse, fear, trauma, pain, lies, despair, scars and doubt were stacked up representing a barrier. As transformation occurs within the lives of the women, the barriers are broken down and the bricks, now representing peace, freedom, kindness, respect, love, healing, forgiveness, truth, hope, beauty and trust are placed in a circle representing community. 

ARISE offers weekly support groups, one to one mentoring, retreats, practical support and creative arts workshops.  

ARISE is currently without a place to call home and the volunteers from the Toronto, Kitchener and Hamilton areas travel to meet with groups of women in various locations.  They are hoping to find a central location through which they can continue their ministry.  In the past 5 years the number of clients they work with has doubled.  Currently a fundraiser is being planned for April 2014 - a Toronto Art Exhibit which will feature photographic art taken by the women in the ARISE community.  All funds will go to continuing supportive programs for women.

Sharing seesion with the 7 women from ARISE
If you are interesting in booking a performance of "Our Story" for your congregation or school please contact Shauna Mayer at 416-540-5064.

More information and links can be found on the MCC Ontario Website.

Nov 26, 2013

Peace by Piece

Finally, the full picture report from the 
2013 MCBC Women's Ministry Fall Retreat 
is ready for you to inspect!  
Just click on the link right HERE! 

Thought that a Fall picture would be appropriate! 

Nov 21, 2013

Niagara Cluster Event

On Saturday, October 5, 100 women of all ages attended an afternoon tea at Grace Mennonite Church on Niagara Street in St. Catharines, ON.  The ladies of the church did a fantastic job with the decorations and goodies.  The d├ęcor featured flowers from the garden displayed in mason jars, on tables covered with Ten Thousand Villages tablecloths.  They even served Fair Trade Coffee from TTV!  Thank you so much for hosting our WMCEC’s Fall Cluster Event this year.  Our speaker was Julie Stobbe from “Mind Over Clutter” who presented the interesting concept of simplifying our lives by de-cluttering our living space.  Julie, a member at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, began her professional organizing business in 2006.   She is a trained Professional Organizer through Professional Organizers in Canada. She also has two university degrees and is the mother of three adult children! An offering for projects sponsored by MW Canada and WMCEC was received with gratitude.  Needless to say, we all had a great time.  

 Fellowship around the table with Liz Koop and Elaine Reimer (forefront).

Submitted by Linda Wiens, St. Catharines UM Church

Nov 18, 2013


This report/interview is LONG overdue and I apologize. 
With the business of summer followed by the final preparations for our annual retreat weekend, I must confess that I forgot to post the full interview here on our blog.
So... to all of you who read the Mennonite Women Canada "Connections" and came here looking for the whole story .... the reason you didn't find it should now be obvious! 

But.... now it's here and I feel much better!

Hope you will enjoy this post and be inspired to participate in your local area Women's Retreat Weekend in the future! God Bless! 
Interview with the women of
Western Hmong Mennonite Church
Sunday, July 21, 2013 at their meeting place – 5:00pm
Hammond United Church
11391 Dartford Street,
Maple Ridge, V2X 1V6

Present: Cheryl Dyck, Rita Siebert and Waltrude Gortzen for MCBC Women’s Ministry

And joining us from the Western Hmong Mennonite Church were:
Left to right:
Back row: Kay Moua (Assistant Women’s group leader and our translator), 
Seng Yang (Pastor’s wife), Song ThaoLee Yang (Leader of Women’s group) Chia Cha
Front row: Song Thao (Elder’s wife) Mee Lee (Pastor’s mom) 
Mee Thao (Mee Lee’s good friend from Portland, Oregon) 
See Her (Visiting friend from Alaska) Yer Vang

Rita, Cheryl & I had been eagerly anticipating our upcoming visit with our dear Hmong Sisters and in preparation for our visit we sent them some questions to consider and talk about.

During our drive out to Maple Ridge, BC, the 3 of us were wondering how this visit would proceed. How many women could we expect? Would we intimidate them? Would we be able to communicate?
Well... once we arrived it only took a few minutes and we wondered no longer!
We were greeted with hugs, laughter, chatter and smiles!
Introductions were made all around and we were invited to come in and help ourselves to some refreshments and then Seng opened our time together with a prayer in her native Hmong language. 

They were eager to talk and we were eager to listen and learn.

They had obviously talked about the questions we had sent them and were open and willing to share.

Below are their answers to a few of our questions - with ‘minimal’ editing!
1. When did your people come to Canada and why?
In 1980, the Hmong people came to Canada because of the Vietnam War. In Canada we live mostly in Ontario and BC.

2. Our home country and our native language:
We came from Laos and our native language is Hmong.

3. How did you learn about Mennonite faith?
We learned about the Mennonite faith from the Mennonite church that had sponsored the First Hmong Mennonite Church community that lives in Ontario.

4. Are there Mennonite Christians in your home country?
In our country there are no Mennonite Christians.

5. Were you allowed to worship freely?
            Before the Vietnam War we were free to worship, but after we were not.

6. What is the size, age range and makeup of your group of women and what are some of your activities as a group?
         In the Western Hmong Mennonite Church, we have 14 women. 
            We have meetings or gatherings 4  times a year, and women’s group is any ages. 
            Our Church meets every Tuesday night @ 7:00pm for Bible Studies and every
            Saturday evening we have song and band practice to prepare for Sunday service.

7. What encourages you to keep participating in MCBC's Women's Ministry?
To encourage our women's group to participate within MCBC grows our faith; gives us more experience of praying to God. Also get to know MCBC women better through fellowship.

8. What advice do you have for us as a committee to better connect with our Ethnic sisters?
Make more connections and keep in touch through events and non-events.
Obviously, we talked about much more than just the questions we had sent them and I've since learned that these wonderful Christian Sisters are so committed to attending the annual Fall Women`s Retreat that they go and pick blueberries during the summer in order to raise funds to help pay for their retreat participation. 
In the hot summer sun, a group of 19, including husbands, picked over 1600 pounds of blueberries – about 64 buckets full and they raised $800.00. 

In the blueberry fields: Seng Yang & Kay Moua

Other topics we talked about... now that they live in Canada.... do they still adhere to their ethnic traditions when it comes to weddings and other life events? They told us that the more ‘Canadian’ young people prefer to be more modern. Frequently, the traditional Hmong Celebration is followed by a Western style celebration.

Nowadays, mostly Western style but on special occasions like our 2012 Fall Women’s Retreat – the finery was out on display. 
Left to right: Kay Moua, Kia Xiong and Seng Yang.

A combination of East and West

These ladies are looking to get involved! Their hope is to participate at this year’s BC MCC Festival September 6 and 7 by providing the masses with their delectable spring-rolls that they treated us with at the 2013 Spring Inspirational Day.
When the women were done, no spring-rolls were left!   

FYI - We are happy to inform you that they did actually participate in the Food Fair at the MCC Festival and their spring-rolls were a huge success! 
One last group picture before going home!
It was a most enjoyable visit!
Thank you, ladies, for spending your time with us!

Written by Waltrude Gortzen
MCBC Women`s Ministry Rep.

Nov 12, 2013

Barkman's in the Philippines are safe!

Yesterday the Barkman's posted an update on their BLOG. They write: "Thank you for the prayers and concern regarding the terrible Typhoon that swept through the the Philippines Friday morning.  We, in Manila, have not been affected by the we read the news reports, we are seeing how terrible the devastation is in the central islands of the Philippines." 

Church workers in Manila are currently assembling a team of personnel to head out to the worst hit areas to start an assessment and help organize disaster response.  for more information please see the Barkman's BLOG.  Donations for relief efforts can be made through Mennonite Central Committee.  The Government of Canada is matching donations until December 9.   

Nov 6, 2013

Remembrance Day

On Remembrance Day our nation invites us to reflect on the wartime sacrifice of soldiers.  Many Anabaptist churches, as peace churches, choose to observe Peace Sunday as a way of recalling their identity as peace churches, as well as to offer a witness against war and violence.

MCC’s Peace Sunday Packet is intended to help churches plan a Peace Sunday worship service, as well as engage in peace action and witness.  It is intended for use on November 3 or 10, prior to Remembrance Day, or some other appropriate time.  This year’s packet -- Ambassadors of Reconciliation -- is inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.  Click here for more information.  

--from MCC Canada's website