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A group of Mennonites in Denver, Col., have created a system for exchanging time, labour, and materials as a community. Wooden tokens called Groupees are “payment” for services such as babysitting, resume-writing, and dog-walking, and a website facilitates requests for help. The founder of a copycat group in Lancaster, Pa., hopes “the Groupee system becomes a natural way to remember each other as ready-to-help-and-be-helped people.” It is not intended to replace freely giving and receiving.—The Mennonite

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The MAX enterprise boards have taken visionary steps to establish a more stable funding base for Mutual Aid Ministries in U.S. and Canada. As of Jan. 1, MAX will contribute 1 percent of every premium dollar it collects to the Mutual Aid Ministries (MAM) program, a shift from the previous model based on flux. MAM is a ministry offering share fund grants to individuals needing financial assistance due to a loss such as fire, injury, unemployment, or family break-up.—MAX release

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Mennonite Central Committee, together with Mennonite Church Canada, seeks donations for the emergency needs in Iligan City, Philippines. Through a partnership with PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI), MCC is contributing $10,000 to the distribution of locally purchased food and non-food items to at least 1,500 families affected by December’s flash flooding. Churches, schools, and community centres have been converted into temporary evaculation centres in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, but food and potable water are scarce. Following the 2009 floods, MCC partnered with PBCI to train 2 peace and reconciliation teams in disaster preparedness.—MCC release 

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Sudan and northern Nigeria saw steep increases in persecution against Christians last year, according to Open Door’s annual ranking. Sudan – where northern Christians experienced greater vulnerability after southern Sudan seceded in July, jumped 19 places from its 2010 ranking, from 35th to 16th. In northern Nigeria, Islamist bombings, guerrilla-style attacks, and increased government restrictions on Christians in northern Nigeria contributed to its leap from 23rd to 13th place. Nigeria reports the worst atrocities in terms of loss of life, with more than 300 Christian martyrs in 2011. North Korea topped the list as the country where Christians are most persecuted, as it has for the past 9 years.—Compass Direct

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After more than 130 Christians, including several indigenous missionaries, were killed by Muslim extremists Nov. 11 in New Jerusalem, Nigeria, one of the mourners led the confessed killer to Jesus and began discipling him in a secret location. The terrorist group Boko Haram set fire to 10 churches full of worshippers. As one terrorist was about to slit a Christian’s throat, he was struck by the evil he intended and fled to a church, where he was referred to the indigenous Missionary Crusaders Ministry.—INS- Intercede International, Fort Eric, Ont.

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A set of 4 recorded teaching sessions in French, including “A God of crazy generosity,” by Eric Wingender, the ETEM professor who died in October, is available for $30 plus shipping. All profits will go to the Eric Wingender foundation in support of ETEM.—ETEM release

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Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) professor Paul Dyck served as curator for the University of Manitoba’s “This Booke of Starres”: 400 Years of the King James Bible exhibit, which continues until Apr. 30, 2012. Using CMU’s 1960s proof press, Dyck also gave a hands-on demonstration by reproducing the 1611 Bible’s title page.—CMU release

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Janet Plenert is the new manager for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Region V (Canada), overseeing Canadian volunteer deployment in Canada and the U.S.A., supporting provincial MDS units, and facilitating communication and promotion of MDS across Canada from Winnipeg. With years of leadership experience within Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite World Conference (MWC), Plenert will continue in her role as MWC vice-president.—MDS release

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Last November’s election in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in re-election for the president and denunciation from the international community. The Carter Center (a nonpartisan organization founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health around the world) reported the election “lacked credibility,” and that “the quality and integrity of the vote tabulation process has varied across the country.” MB leader, university administrator, and leadership expert Pascal Kulungu, who ran for a parliamentary seat in Bandundu province, was not elected.—KB, from reports

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