The Mennonite Church of Colombia is fighting allegations from Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that an email to Colombian Mennonite economist Hector Mondragón was found on the computer of slain left-wing rebel leader Raul Reyes. The church denounced the accusations as slander against the activist who has a long history of advocating for human rights. Supporting the Colombian church, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) cites concerns the allegations could make Mondragón a target for assassination by right-wing paramilitary groups. Mondragón cancelled an MCC-sponsored speaking tour in the U.S. to clear his name.
Up to 100 religious leaders from faiths including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and indigenous spirituality will gather in Winnipeg, June 2010, for the G8 Religious Leaders Summit. The gathering complements the meeting of G8 political leaders in Huntsville, Ont. Participants will travel to Winnipeg from G8 and African countries for three days of dialogue devoted to advancing the Millennium Development Goals. The goals encompass global concerns such as eradicating extreme poverty, combating HIV and malaria, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
—University of Winnipeg release
Somebody’s Daughter: A Journey to Freedom, available on DVD, will air Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 on the ION Television Network. The documentary details the lives of three men and one couple active in Christian ministry who struggle with and overcome addiction to pornography. Producer Steve Siler, founder and director of Music for the Soul, wrote the song “Somebody’s Daughter” with Christian recording artist John Mandeville after Mandeville revealed his own struggle with pornography. Sixty percent of Christian men and 35 percent of women admit to struggling with pornography.
—Music for the Soul
The Word Guild is accepting both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for the 2009 Best New Canadian Christian Author contest. First-time authors have the opportunity to win a $1,000 cash prize or an advance and book publishing contract for entries submitted by Nov. 28. The winning entry, which will express Christian faith in a clear, original, inspiring way, will be announced at The Word Guild Writing Awards Gala in June 2009.
—The Word Guild
The Church of the Brethren, a historic peace church influenced by the Mennonites and by Pietism, celebrated its 300th anniversary this year. Summer held another historic event as two streams that split in the 1880s held a joint conference in Richmond, Va. Three additional Brethren groups sent representatives to the celebration of the movement’s tricentennial.
—Mennonite Weekly Review
Both Christian and Muslim residents in Mindanao, Philippines, fear violence from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following the failure of a peace agreement to enlarge the existing Muslim autonomous region there. Though the conflict is primarily political, religion plays a significant role because MILF forces advocate sharia (Islamic) law as the right way for Muslims to live.
—Compass Direct News
A simple vaccination is causing conflict in religious schools across the country. School boards are using government funding to offer vaccination against HPV (human papillomavirus) to 11- to 12-year-old girls in Grade 6. Some Catholic school boards in Ontario and Alberta, as well as 4 private religious schools in Manitoba have opted out of offering the vaccine in their schools because they believe it promotes attitudes of sexual permissiveness. The sexually transmitted virus is believed to be a factor in 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
—Winnipeg Free Press, The Canadian Press, Moose Jaw Times Herald
Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) signed an agreement to work together for CMU’s new business and organizational administrative studies program, Sept. 23. The local MEDA chapter commits to practicum placements and mentoring for students in the program, which aims to provide Christian convictions to business and organizational administration and leadership.
A group in Chico, Cal., hopes its town will be a certified “fair trade town.” The Chico team, working out of the Chico Peace and Justice Center, successfully lobbied 5 out of 7 city councillors to vote affirmatively toward pursuing discussion of fair trade certification for the town. Fair trade refers to the practice of making sure workers involved in producing food or products receive a living wage and humane working conditions. At least 16 local stores or cafes must offer a range of fair trade products to apply.
Will Graham, grandson of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, toured 12 cities in 4 provinces with Covenant Award-winning band Starfield. The youth-targeted tour brought in nearly 7,000 young people to hear Graham’s message about eternal purpose and Jesus Christ.
—Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada release