B.C. MP Bill Siksay is championing the cause of a 6-year-old campaign to establish a department of peace in the Canadian government. “The department would develop a coordinated and coherent paradigm for a sustainable peace across all government departments,” reads an overview of the initiative. “Canada does indeed have a critical mass of expertise in the domains of knowledge and practice that the department of peace would seek to advance,” says Nathan Funk, assistant professor of peace studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont. “What we lack is a vehicle.” Critics of the plan suggest it could be a bureaucratic nightmare and morale-killer by making troops partially responsible to two departments. See www.departmentofpeace.ca for more information.
Jesus’ peaceful revolution is the theme of Mennonite Central Committee’s congregational resources for Peace Sunday in November 2009. The package includes a sample worship outline with prayers, readings, sermon suggestions, and a children’s story; revolutionary stories and quotations; and suggestions for action and witness. The materials can be downloaded from canada.mcc.org/peacesunday.
University of Alberta linguistics professor Chris Cox is a recipient of the annual Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation scholarship for his research which involves creating permanent digital records of disappearing languages, including Plautdietsch, or Low German, spoken by Mennonite immigrants to Canada from Russia. The scholarship allows Cox, who is also documenting Tsuut’ina, a dying Aboriginal language from southern Alberta, to purchase equipment, travel to study with experts, negotiate access to archived recordings, and collect and collate scattered materials.
Mennonite Church USA executive board has named Ervin R. Stutzman of Harrisonburg, Va., as executive director. Stutzman is vice president, seminary dean, and professor of church ministries at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg. He served on the executive board from 1999–2005, as moderator from 2001–2003. Stutzman replaces Jim Schrag who retired in July, and Ron Byler who serves as interim director until Stutzman begins in 2010. Mennonite Church Canada general secretary Robert J. Suderman announced his intention to retire not later than August 2010. With nearly 42 years in church ministry, Suderman has served as general secretary since 2005.
—Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Church Canada
The Canadian Council of Churches has written to 3 of the largest church bodies in the U.S. to share their Christian reflection on health care in Canada. The letter to the National Council of Churches, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals is offered in solidarity and in the conviction that “health care is a moral enterprise,” and has “an unmistakable affinity with the love of neighbour urged on us by God’s Word.”
President of the Canadian treasury board Vic Toews visited Paraguay for 4 days in August to strengthen relations between Canada and Paraguay. In addition to touring the Itaipu hydroelectric dam, and announcing support for the Building the Capacity of Women Farmers for their Full Participation in Rural Development program, Minister Toews also visited CIDA-supported projects on the Loma Plata and Fernheim colonies and spoke to leaders in the Mennonite community about new legislation affecting some 9,000 Canadians in Paraguay.
According to underground Christians in Somalia, al Shabaab rebels killed 41-year-old Ahmed Matan in Bulahawa, Somalia, in August, on suspicion of having converted from Islam to Christianity. Before his death, Matan reported being monitored by extremists and discouraged from carrying out his small-trade business across the border in Kenya. Already enforcing Sharia in parts of southern Somalia under their control, al Shabaab rebels have mounted an armed effort to topple President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government and impose Islamic law.
—Compass Direct News
The Intermenno Trainee Program, a youth work exchange program operating since 1963, will end in August 2010. More than a thousand young people from Canada and the U.S. have filled an Intermenno trainee placement in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and France throughout the years. A marked decrease in applications and increasingly restrictive government regulations are contributing factors to the program’s termination.
A Census Canada document shows 2 out of 3 Canadian Aboriginals consider themselves Christian (40 percent Roman Catholic, 28 percent Protestant). A survey of more than 800 Aboriginal teenagers says 1 in 2 “value” Christianity, though most blend their commitment with Aboriginal spirituality. The Vancouver Sun’s religion writer Douglas Todd speculates Aboriginals’ continuing openness to Christianity may be partly explained by clergy activism in support of treaty claims, and by apologies and financial compensation offered by the church in the name of reconciliation. “Mutual respect remains considerable.”
—The Vancouver Sun