Canadian Foodgrains Bank received $12.4 million in donations during the 2008–2009 fiscal year, $4 million more than their previous record. Despite the recession, cash donations increased approximately 15 percent, the increased value of grain donations and higher yields on the prairies raised the value of grain donations, and CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) increased their annual contribution by $5 million. “We are pleased and humbled to see so many people committed to the work of ending hunger regardless of the challenges they may face in their own lives,” says Jim Cornelius, executive director.
—Canadian Foodgrains Bank
The 2009–2010 Mennonite Your Way directory is available for order. The travel directory lists locations and contact information for 1,700 Mennonites, Brethren, and like-minded Christians in more than 60 countries who offer space in their homes to travellers on a donation basis.
Mennonite Publishing Network’s 2009 Vacation Bible School curriculum has been selected as a “top pick” by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching of Virginia Theological Seminary. Catch the Spirit! Join God’s Work in the World was cited for its “upbeat and nonjudgmental tone, and strong message of evangelism.” The Center also commended the curriculum, based on stories from Acts for children age 4 through Grade 8, for its ideas for adapting materials, and suggestions for working with children with special needs.
—Mennonite Publishing Network
U.S. scientists say they have successfully reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s with experimental drugs. The drugs, which target and boost the function of a newly pinpointed gene involved in the brain’s memory formation, helped restore long-term memory and improve learning for new tasks in mice. Lead researcher Li-Huei Tsai says treatment for humans with Alzheimer’s is still a decade away.
World Health Organization officials declared a public health emergency due to cases of influenza A(H1N1), commonly known as the swine flu. Mennonite Disaster Service and Mennonite Church Canada are making resources available to churches and individuals through their website
www.churchpandemicresources.ca. The site has news updates, a link to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), tools for congregations, and a link to MDS’s guide to preparing for disasters.
Erland Waltner, long-time Mennonite World Conference pillar, died in Goshen, Ind., April 12, 2009, at age 94. Waltner served as MWC president 1963–1973 and as a member of the presidium (now the executive committee) 1957–1963. Both a pastor and educator, he served churches in 7 states, and was involved as professor, president, or board member at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, and the General Conference Mennonite Church board of education. An AMBS tribute described him as wise, gracious, faithful, and humble.
Nearly 20 years after an estimated 2,000 Chinese were killed by government troops during student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, more than 80 Chinese Christian leaders have called for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice, and reconciliation. Many of these leaders were involved in student movements, suffered repercussions for their participation, and later found hope in Jesus Christ. The declaration calls on Chinese Christians to confess the sins of silence and hypocrisy, and asks the international community to join in prayer.
Ten Thousand Villages launched 10 new personal care products prepared with certified Fair Trade and organic shea during May, Fair Trade Month. The Union of Producers of Shea Products, of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, enables nearly 3,000 women to double their income through the work of the collective, and to contribute to community projects, such as literacy groups, programs for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and construction of a childcare centre. The shea tree, indigenous to West Africa, produces a nut rich in oil used in Western cosmetics.
—Ten Thousand Villages
A convert from Islam and East Africa, Pentecostal Church pastor Abdi Welli Ahmed, of Kenya, landed in trouble after trying to enter Somalia’s autonomous, self-declared state of Somaliland in February. Arriving at the border crossing by car, Ahmed was carrying his Bible, Christian literature, and legal travel documents. He was locked in a cell for 9 hours, beaten, had his Christian materials taken away, was threatened, and warned not to attempt to re-enter the region.
—Compass Direct News