Nov 11th, 2023MCEC Equipping Day

“…the wind knows it no more” – an equipping day on saying farewell

A day for pastors, chaplains, congregational leaders and all who are interested to talk about green funerals, funeral planning, advanced care planning, MAID (Medical assistance in dying) and palliative care.

All are welcome for this informative day in the format of Pastors, Chaplains and Congregational Leaders events in the past.

Saturday, November 11, 2023
9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
East Zorra Mennonite Church
677044 16 Line, Tavistock, ON



Our Day Together


8:30 am                                 Registration and Welcome (Light Refreshments)

9 am                                      Worship with Greg Yantzi – The Mystery of Dying and Death
                                              (Please dress according to the weather as this may be held outside.)

9:30 – 10:30 am                   MAID and Human Suffering with Dan Epp Tiessen with Q&A

10:30 – 11 am                      Morning Break and Fellowship

11 am - noon                        Workshops (A)
                                              - Congregational Stories of Green Burials with Charleen Jongejan Harder and Brenda Hostetler Meyer
                                              - The Last Breath - Exploring Palliative Care and MAID with Martha Taylor

Noon – 1 pm                         LUNCH

1 - 1:45 pm                           Workshops (B)
                                              - What is Green Funeral? with Ellen Neuman
                                              - MAID: A Personal Journey with Terry Schellenberg

1:45 - 2 pm                           Break

2 - 3 pm                                Workshops (C)
                                             - Family-Led Death Care and Death Rituals with Susan Watson
                                             - Pastoral Care and MAID with Mark Diller Harder and Stephen Reist 

3-3:15pm                             Closing Worship


Speakers and Workshops 


Greg YantziGreg Yantzi – Worship leader - Greg is currently pastor at Nith Valley Mennonite Church and lives in Waterloo. Since his father's death over four decades ago, he has been engaging communities on how to live with grief as a life-long companion. Remaining connected to the earth and grounding our lives in the midst of death is an important piece of leadership for Greg. He enjoys exploring the opportunities and challenges that go with community leadership while giving attention to other entrepreneurial adventures. He delights fully in spending as much time as possible with his two grandsons but also finds time for a variety of sporting activities and riding his motorcycle!


Dan Epp-TiessenDan Epp-Tiessen – MAID and Human Suffering- MAID should always be a contested issue for Christians because fundamental Christian convictions lead in different ethical directions with respect to MAID. On one hand, human life is a precious gift of God and it is not ours to take. Who are we mere mortals to say that certain human lives are valuable and worth protecting while others are not? On the other hand, as Christians we should seek to relieve human suffering. One of the two great commandments is to love our neighbour as ourselves. When our neighbour is driven to request MAID because of excruciating suffering with no prospects of relief, should we not support that request? This presentation will reflect on how key elements of a Christian theology of suffering might speak into the complex moral issues surrounding MAID.

Dan Epp-Tiessen is recently retired from twenty-five years of teaching Bible and theology at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Prior to his time at CMU Dan has been a pastor, homemaker, and worked with Mennonite Central Committee in the Philippines for four years. Dan has a passion for resourcing the church by offering his gifts of interpreting the Bible so that it can nurture a deep Christian faith and and speak into pressing issues of contemporary life. Dan and his wife Esther are active members of Home St. Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Workshop Descriptions 

Two great workshop choices in each of the three workshop sessions.

Workshop A: Congregational Stories of Green Burials - Charleen Jongejan Harder & Brenda Hostetler Meyer 

Charleen Jongejan HarderGreen burials are a new (old) practice emerging at some Mennonite congregations. In this workshop we will hear stories from two pastors from congregations who recently walked with members who requested green burial. As they share their stories, we will learn about how awareness around green burials arose in their setting. Were there things that needed to discussed or put in place before the time of death? Were there any things to note regarding timing, working with a funeral home, and negotiating with the cemetery? What are the blessings and challenges of choosing a green burial?

Brenda Hostetler MeyerCharleen Jongejan Harder, pastor of Elmira Mennonite Church (Elmira, ON).

Brenda Hostetler Meyer, recently retired pastor of Benton Mennonite Church (Goshen, IN).



Workshop A: The Last Breath: Exploring Palliative Care and MAID - Martha Taylor

Martha TaylorIn the workshop, I hope to help participants understand some of the decision-making and processes involved in end of life care, including palliative care and Medical Assistance in Dying. Participants are encouraged to submit questions ahead of the workshop, so that I can incorporate responses in my presentation.


Graduated from Medical School at Queen’s University in 1986, practiced full spectrum “Cradle to Grave” family medicine for over 30 years.  Started doing Medical Assistance in Dying work shortly after the law (Bill C-14) was passed in 2016, and currently my sole clinical work is in MAID. I live and practice in Waterloo, Ontario

Workshop B: What is Green Burial? - Ellen Newman

Ellen NewmanParticipants will learn how green burial is defined by the Green Burial Society of Canada, The Green Burial Council and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, how to support green funeral and green burial practices in their communities and cemeteries, ways to approach funeral and cemetery providers with questions/requests for green burial, and some helpful resources.  The presentation will include time for questions. 

Ellen Newman is a licensed funeral director at Ridley Funeral Home in Etobicoke, Ontario.  A long-time proponent of environmentally friendly end-of-life options, Ellen served on the Board of Directors of the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC) from 2017 to 2020, where she worked to implement the application process for cemeteries to achieve GBSC Certification, and was a member of the Approval Committee.  Ellen is a member of Community Deathcare Canada (CDC) – a consumer advocacy organization focused on preserving the rights of Canadians to care for their own dead.

Workshop B: MAID: A Personal Journey - Terry Schellenberg

Terry SchellenbergTerry will share his personal story of accompanying his sister Gail on her cancer journey and her ensuing death on December 4, 2020.  Gail chose MAID as a means of ending her life and Terry will reflect on the impact and questions that this experience opened for him and others in his family.


Terry is a former teacher and school administrator, having served as Principal at Menno Simons Christian School in Calgary (1986-1996) and at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener (1996-2009).  He retired two years ago from his role as VP External at Canadian Mennonite University (2009-2021).  Together with his wife Brenda he is active at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. 

Workshop C: Family-Led Death Care and Death Rituals - Susan Watson

Susan WatsonDying, death care and death rituals can be events shaped by us to embody and reflect our most deeply held values.  How can we bring the same level of intentionality and preparation to death as we do to births and weddings?  How can we reclaim practices like washing and dressing our loved ones, building caskets, and keeping vigil back into our families and communities?  This workshop aims to open the conversation, discuss practical preparations and most of all, leave you with permission to seek out old paths which, though overgrown, are still there.

Susan Watson is a lifelong Anglican who lives in Guelph.  She and her husband Ian participate in Burning Bush Forest Church. When Susan's Irish Father, Alan Watson, died her family washed and dressed his body and laid him out on her dining room table for two days.  The family gathered around Alan's body for an intimate version of an Irish wake the night before his funeral. 

Workshop C: Pastoral Care and MAID - Mark Diller Harder and Stephen Reist

Mark Diller HarderMark and Stephen will share their journey as a pastors responding to questions and experiences of MAID that have arisen in their congregational setting. Researching to see how complex the ethics of MAID are and how varied situations and pastoral care responses can be.  They look forward to a rich discussion that might help pastors feel better prepared.

Mark Diller Harder, pastor at St Jacobs Mennonite Church, St. Jacobs, ON

Stephen Reist is currently serving as Intentional Interim Minister at Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto and is the Regional Stephen ReistMinistry Associate, MCEC for Greater Toronto Area Cluster and Niagara Cluster.