News briefs

Money can buy happiness this Christmas: a $20 Living Gift from Ten Thousand Villages can stock a women’s fishery in India, providing families with income and nutrition; $25 buys literacy skills and a new life for victims of Bangladesh’s sex trade.—TenThousandVillages.ca 

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Acknowledging the environmental impact of their global work, in October Mennonite World Conference (MWC) staff and executive members began paying a “carbon tax” on every mile of air travel. Proceeds of the self-imposed surcharge will benefit MWC’s global church sharing fund, earmarked for environmental projects of MWC-member churches. Based on a formula of $50 per 1,000 kg of carbon, MWC expects the plan to generate $2,500 next year.—MWC release

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Spending billions more on prisons won’t create safer communities, says Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) spokesperson James Loewen. Instead, Canada should invest in community-based programs that support victims, hold offenders accountable, and help ex-prisoners reintegrate into the community. Government resources are needed to address the conditions that lead to criminal behavior; e.g., children living with family violence. It costs about $223,687 annually to maintain one maximum-security inmate.—MCC release

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Manitoba Grand Chief Ron Evans says it’s time to call a public health emergency in the northern community of Island Lake. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has spent $55 million since 2001 to bring plumbing to the region, but only half of the 10,000 people have running water in their homes. In several of the province’s remote reserves (accessible by road only a few months a year), families live on less than 10 litres of clean, treated water a day per person – far short of the United Nations’ health recommendation of 50 litres per day per person, and less than the recommended 15 litres in disaster zones.—Winnipeg Free Press

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Mennonite Central Committee’s food account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is at its lowest level in years, drained by the volume of food projects MCC supported this year. MCC is keeping an anxious eye on surging food prices, which push people into poverty while reducing the purchasing power of aid organizations. In January 2010, MCC had $1.5 million in equity at CFGB; by October it had dropped to $140,000.—MCC release

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To celebrate Youth With A Mission’s 50th anniversary, YWAM founders Loren and Darlene Cunningham embarked on a 34–nation trek to all YWAM bases, including Cremona, Alta., and Dunham, Que., in fall.—Faith Today

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In response to growing interest in local history among Ukrainians, Mennonite Centre embarked on a translation project spanning two continents, alphabets, and operating systems. Building on the past: Mennonite Architecture, Landscape and Settlements in Russia/Ukraine was recently translated into Ukrainian, and launched at the Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Oct. 11 in the presence of some 30 Ukrainian educators. Written to help North American Mennonites discover their roots, the book is now helping Ukrainians recover their ethnic history.—www.mennonitecentre.ca

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CMU student Jeff Friesen’s essay earned recognition in the John Horsch Mennonite history essay contest sponsored by the Mennonite Church USA historical committee. “On Seeing the Beauty of Christ: Exploring the Possibility of Aesthetics in Pilgram Marpeck’s Christology” tied for second place in the graduate school/seminary category.—CMU release

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A Mennonite Church USA pastor is on probation for officiating at the wedding of two men in October 2008. The Pacific Southwest Conference sanctioned Sheri Hostetler of First Mennonite Church, San Francisco, Cal., Feb. 5, 2010, for breaking MC USA guidelines which prohibit pastors from officiating at same-sex covenant ceremonies. Hostetler and conference moderator Brian Fry are “committed to remain in dialogue.”—Mennonite Weekly Review

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At a time when many countries are scaling back their refugee programs, Canada’s is expanding. Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced it will extend its measures for Iraqi refugees for a minimum of two years, resulting in the resettlement of up to 8,600 more refugees. Canadian groups are encouraged to sponsor refugees.—Citizenship and Immigration Canada release

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Tabor College and Fresno Pacific University report record enrollments in fall 2010. Tabor boasts its largest freshman class in 22 years. Combined enrollment at the Hillsboro and Wichita, Kan., campuses is 669 students. Fresno Pacific University has a record enrollment with 3,314 students, including 111 students from the merger with MB Biblical Seminary. Not including seminary students, enrollment increased by 21 percent over last year.—ICOMB

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Canada’s new governor general is a friend of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). A member of The MasterCard Foundation board, David Johnson met with senior MEDA staff to learn about youth and microfinance work in Egypt. The MasterCard Foundation then awarded a contract to MEDA to establish its YouthInvest program in Morocco and Egypt.—The MarketPlace

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