Newsbriefs

Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Disaster Service have worked together to design and write a website (www.churchpandemicresources.ca) to inform and equip churches about pandemic influenza and other disasters. Mennonite Publishing Network will also be producing a four-lesson study booklet for churches, and a children’s book on the topic, available this spring.

—MDS release
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Goshen (Ind.) College fielded more than 400 calls and emails in one week after the Mike Gallagher Show criticized the school for not playing the national anthem before sporting games. Callers accused the school of being unpatriotic, or of failing their obligation to play the anthem given federal or state funding enjoyed by students. Goshen president James Brenneman noted, “The national anthem provided the opportunity to discuss…one response that some Mennonites historically have about being faithful to the lordship of Christ.”

—The Mennonite
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Several Anabaptist youth will ride bicycles from Harrisonburg, Virginia, to Asuncion, Paraguay, for Global Youth Summit and Mennonite World Conference Assembly 15. Participants will leave this January to reach their destination by July. The group seeks to learn and serve those they encounter, and connect with Anabaptist congregations and service workers on the 7,000-mile route. A map of the group’s route is available on their website, which will be updated to creatively document conversations, stories, and photos of the experience. People are welcomed to join the self-supporting touring group for sections of the ride for a few miles or a few days.

americas.bikemovement.org
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Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) launched a program to take senior-level corporate human resource expertise to microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world by training experienced HR executives to communicate their knowledge to underserved clients in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. “MFIs have passed their infancy; to mature and reach the next level, they need to invest in their human capital,” said Julie Redfern, MEDA’s director of microfinance. The first graduates of the MF Fellows Program will be deployed to Cambodia, Pakistan, and Haiti.

—MEDA release
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After 400 years, the Singelkerk could use a bit of cleaning up. The flagship church building of the Mennonite congregation in the Netherlands was built in 1639 on a site between the Singel and Gentleman’s canals in Amsterdam, which had housed a Mennonite meetingplace since 1608. To mark the celebration, the building will undergo a repointing of the bricks, installation of an elevator, and renovation of the loft into a multifunctional space.

—Mennonite Weekly Review
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About 800,000 people were already displaced by long-standing conflicts in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and an additional 250,000 people were displaced in recent months. An estimated 5 million people have been killed over the last 12 years in Congo through two regional wars and ongoing fighting. Causes of conflict are many, but armed groups are primarily fighting to reap profits from Congo’s mineral resources, such as gold, tin, diamonds, and coltan (used in laptop computers and cell phones). Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is planning to provide $280,000 in aid to people affected by war in the eastern region.

—MCC release
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Accusations of vote-tampering resulting from a delay in posting election results fired violence in the central Nigerian city of Jos in Nov., leaving hundreds dead and thousands fleeing their homes. Several Christian churches are reported destroyed including the Church of Christ in Nigeria, where the pastor was killed. One mosque reported receiving 300 Muslim corpses. Plateau state governor Jonah David Jang said the crisis was pre-planned by disgruntled elements who had schemed to manipulate religious sentiments to create instability in the state.

—Compass Direct News
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The North American Amish population grew 84 percent, from 125,000 in 1992 to 231,000 in 2008. The population growth is caused in large part by Amish families having five or more children on average, and seeing 85 percent of those children join the church as adults, said Donald Kraybill, author of several books on the Amish. A total of 27 U.S. states now have Amish inhabitants. There are also 4,455 Amish in Ontario.

—Mennonite Weekly Review
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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been awash with finger-pointing and counter-claims since the unexpected resignation of chairman Harry LaForme. The commission formally launched in June with a five-year mandate to begin healing the deep wounds done to Canada’s First Nations people through residential schools. All parties to the settlement agreement have been meeting since LaForme’s resignation to hammer out a process for finding his replacement. Mark MacDonald, national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada says it’s critical the commission carry on its mission. The survivors “are getting on in age,” he says. “They deserve to have justice.”

—ChristianWeek
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Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada released an open letter to parliamentarians and Canadians, calling for integrity, statesmanship, and grace in the current crisis of political leadership. “Canada needs a renewed practice of civility where humility, self-control, respect, courtesy, and good manners are practiced,” he wrote in the letter found on the EFC’s website.

www.evangelicalfellowship.ca

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