Connecting Neighbours: Journey to Authentic Self

You are invited to join SNFC and friends for conversation and information-sharing in an event that includes a panel discussion with people who have been on a personal journey to authentic self. We welcome Katelyn Dykstra as guest speaker. Dr. Dykstra teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Manitoba, and is the project manager for genderplay workshops in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson. She lives in Steinbach with her partner and two children, where she also facilitates a book club.
Please note the details on the poster, share, and mark your calendar for
Saturday, February 23, 10 am – 2:30 pm
Pat Porter Centre
10 Chrysler Drive, Steinbach

SNFC in the Summer

Steinbach Neighbours for Community continues to invite parents of LGBTTQI children and youth to network with us through the summer months. Our members are happy to sit down with other parents, one-on-one, to listen and to share. Please feel free to contact us personally:

Leona Woodmass –
Randy Hildebrand –
Doug Klassen –
Bonnie Loewen –

Circle of Trust will reconvene with a new schedule in the fall season. Read more about this group here.

A Remarkable Story of a Mother and Son

Cindy Mills and her son, Ro Walker Mills, sat down with Bridget Forbes of CBC news to publicly tell their story for the first time. Ro identifies as a transgender male. Their honest account of what they both endured during those two years will stay with you. Read the interview here.

Bisexual Pastor Creates Space for Believers

“It took a many-year journey before Jamie Arpin-Ricci learned to reconcile his faith with his sexuality, largely because of social pressures he says still exist today in many conservative churches that alienate LGBTQ Christians like him.”

Arpin-Ricci is bisexual and leads Little Flowers Community, an Anabaptist,  Franciscan-inspired church in the West End. His story appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press this week. You can read it here.

Connecting Neighbours

Saturday, February 24, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Pat Porter Centre, 10 Chrysler Gate, Steinbach

Five presenters have been invited to share their knowledge and experience, as we explore a variety of topics relevant to our community. The session topics include reading biblical texts in a new light, scientific research, intersex realities, stories from the transgender community and more. Each presentation will be followed by a conversation circle. There will be all-day refreshments and lunch at noon. Admission is free, and donations to cover costs are welcome. We hope to see you there!

The Spectrum of Sexuality

Val Hiebert is well-known to those who follow Steinbach Neighbours for Community. She is Professor of Sociology at Providence University College, and specializes in the sociology of gender, marriage and family, children and violence, consumer culture and simpler living. Val will walk us through a discourse on intersex people, born with ambiguous genitals. Read the full description in the handout below.   


Animal Attractions

 Dr. Heather Hinam, a naturalist and an award-winning artist and photographer, will open our eyes to the evolution of sexual behaviour and adaptations for mating and same-sex encounters in the animal world. A fascinating topic, to be sure!


LGBT2SQ+ Awareness

 Besides his work at the Rainbow Resource Centre, Muhammed Ahsan has facilitated leadership retreats and conferences throughout North America and the European Union, promoting cultural awareness about sexual identity, and focusing on a wide variety of learning interventions and policy-consulting assignments. He delivers his sessions with a contagious exuberance and energy that leave his listeners enthused for positive change.


A Place at the Table

They are Kalyn Falk and Ro Walker Mills are leading a session together, and theirs is a powerful story of friendship that grew out of learning from each other, creating space for each other, and ultimately becoming co-founders and co-directors of a social enterprise for transmen.


 Bible Reception Without Borders

Please join us on Feb. 24th to hear Randall Holm, our first presenter at Connecting Neighbours. Click on the poster below to read more on this session.

An Invitation to Donate

As December arrives, Steinbach Neighbours for Community is offering its followers an opportunity to add us to your “Giving Season”.  As a non-profit organization that receives no funding for projects and operating expenses, your highly valued donation allows us to continue and enhance our current programs within our community and beyond. Please go to our Donate page for more information. We thank you for your support.

The Gender Revolution

How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender

In January 2017, National Geographic published a special, single-topic issue on the shifting landscape of gender. In their words, “To a degree unimaginable a decade ago, the intensely personal subject of gender identity has entered the public square. In this special issue of the magazine, we look at cultural, social, biological and personal aspects of gender.”

Click on the link to read the articles.

Erica Lea to Become First Openly LGBTQ Lead Pastor of Mennonite Church USA

Take this link to a news release introducing Erica Lea and the church in which she has been called to be a pastor. Following her studies at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Texas, she served as interim pastor at Houston Mennonite Church, and it’s here that she developed a deep appreciation of Anabaptist theology and history. Erica Lea is the first openly LGBTQ individual to be called as a solo pastor in Mennonite Church USA.

Prayers for Bobby

Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 304-2nd St.
Free Admission

Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to a movie night. Prayers for Bobby is a true story. Mary Griffith fights to “cure” her gay son. Although he tries to please his mother, Bobby cannot change, and his depression leads to suicide. Mary questions her faith and searches for comfort, ultimately changing her views in ways that she never could have imagined. A touching and ultimately healing story.

Join us for an opportunity to reflect and engage in conversation as this movie invites us to take a deeper look at a family divided and how they find strength and truth. For more information, contact

Laughter is Sacred Space

Friday, May 12, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Steinbach Regional Secondary School Theatre

Steinbach Neighbours for Community, in partnership with Eden Health Care Services, welcomes the return of Ted Swartz, who brought us Listening for Grace two years ago. Laughter is Sacred Space is part of Ted’s Human Faces Tour, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness month.

In this gritty and dramatic show, Ted walks us through his relationship with friend and business partner, Lee Eshleman, whose death by suicide stunned his community. Ted explores the paradox of working with a comedic partner struggling with bipolar disorder, as well as the challenge of writing and performing stories about God while experiencing the absence of God after Lee’s death.
Using multi-media and his twenty years of storytelling experience, Laughter is Sacred Space is honest, funny and vulnerable, and reveals the unique journey of working as a comedic actor under the shadow of a mental illness, offering hope and humour in a way that only Ted could deliver.
You can learn more about Ted Swartz and find a preview of the play at:
Tickets $12, available now at the Steinbach Arts Centre.

Still Listening…Let’s Talk!

Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to an informal evening of conversation on February 9, 2017, 7 p.m. at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 302 Second St.

We continue to follow up on the interest generated by Still Listening, aware that safe and meaningful conversation is a goal highly appreciated in our community. We hope that the relaxed atmosphere and the promise of wholesome dialogue will encourage you to join us. There will be snacks 🙂

Steinbach Neighbours will soon be launching a Parents of LGBTTQI* network group. Stay tuned for details about this exciting new chapter!

Still Listening: Feedback

It has been one month since Still Listening: Voices Among Us, and Steinbach Neighbours for Community would like to share the positive feedback that has flooded our inboxes and that has been the subject of conversations in our community. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to gather and offer the stories that were told, and to play a part in calling our community to be better for everyone. Thank you for listening, for hearing and for answering that call.

And stay tuned for our community conversation follow-up evening in February!

Here are excerpts from the many emails received:

“The group did a fantastic job of “telling it like it is”. The stories portrayed were heart wrenching. I learned a lot about what people go through…their struggles, their loneliness, their feelings of rejection.”

“The method used to bring together real stories told in someone’s own words, offered up in a way that was respectful and safe for the storytellers, was powerful. The music added heart space and ways to sit with and absorb the text. What a gift to the community.”

“What a beautiful, moving, informative and hopeful production! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an audience hanging onto every word as much as they were tonight.”

“You could have heard a pin drop!”

“The dialogues, the music, all of it was powerful and so very moving. Everybody around me was crying so I don’t think anyone really noticed my sniffing. I cried even harder at one point when I noticed a gentleman ahead of me, close to my Dad’s age, wiping tears away.”

“On our walk home we spoke of how our grandchildren will never have to experience the pain from either parent or grandparent judging and denying their sexuality. The ripples in the pond are getting bigger and I believe these conversations will take on a different tone in our community.”

“I was moved to tears at Friday’s performance. Afterwards I went out for coffee with my dear friend who was mentioned by “Mr. Sawatzky”, as the parent of a gay son. He was truly moved by the evening and was so pleased that people in Southern Manitoba were having serious conversations about something that he and his family have been immersed in for decades”.

“I never would have dreamed that a play such as that one would have been put on in the SRSS theatre, or in Steinbach at all. I felt like the only gay person in the entire world when I was in high school and junior high. If I still lived in Steinbach, I know for a fact now that I would not feel alone.”

“I wish every Steinbach pastor would have seen that performance.”

“Thank you for the vision of finding ways to create another context for us to be neighbours for community. I experienced this evening as having the strength of circle upon circle, a wisdom that listens with humility, and the creative courage to show us what matters.”

Still Listening
Val Hiebert, centre, directs cast members in rehearsal of Still Listening:Voices Among Us. (Photo by Grant Burr, The Carillon)
Still Listening: Voices Among Us
Left to right: Character actors Larry Hiebert, Alexandra Ross and Dennis Hiebert in conversation with the audience after the show. (Photo by Grant Burr, The Carillon)
Still Listening: Voices Among Us
Character actors Reece Savard, Emma Martens, Gary Snider, Ryan Krahn in conversation with the audience after the show while director Val Hiebert looks on. (Photo by Grant Burr, The Carillon)

“A Grandmother’s Heart” by MaryLou Driedger

I saw Still Listening….Voices Among Us on Friday night at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School theatre. Using music directed by Millie Hildebrand  and a script written by Val Hiebert, a stage full of performers told the stories of people who grew up as members of the LGBTQ* community in the Steinbach area. The drama was based on interviews with dozens of people. Most of the words the actors spoke were taken verbatim from the interview transcripts. The evening’s performance was moving and thought-provoking and all the actors did a good job, but it was Evelyn Friesen playing the role of the grandmother Margaret who especially touched my heart and I’m sure those of many others in the audience.

In the drama Margaret’s grandson Alex tells her he is gay and she reacts in an accepting way. While others find it hard to come to terms with Alex’s sexual orientation his grandmother’s reaction is one of love. Later when the father of another girl in the play refuses to acknowledge or accept his lesbian daughter it is Grandmother Margaret who goes over to offer her a hug.

listening-voicesEvelyn, the woman who played the role of Margaret, is a member of the Steinbach church I attended for most of my life. I know that Evelyn is indeed a person of character and caring and perhaps that made her portrayal of the grandmother all the more meaningful for me.

Grandmother Margaret in the play reminded me of an older woman I was chatting with in my Winnipeg church a few Sundays ago.  She proudly pulled out pictures of her grandson’s wedding to show me.  She told me “what nice boys” both her grandson and his new partner were. The happy grandmother especially liked the photo of the two grooms smiling broadly with the beautiful quilt she had made them for a wedding present wrapped around their shoulders.

Yes times are changing. Communities are becoming more open to their LGBTQ* neighbors.  And grandmothers may well be taking a leadership role when it comes to demonstrating an accepting and loving attitude.

MaryLou Driedger works as a facilitator for school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and as a student supervisor for the education department at the University of Winnipeg. She has been a weekly columnist for The Carillon, a regional Manitoba newspaper since 1985, and has written curriculums, script, lyrics, and countless articles for travel, education, historical and religious publications. Her blog “What Next” can be found at

Welcome to Steinbach Neighbours for Community

Steinbach Neighbours for Community is a group of individuals who share a desire to promote understanding and acceptance of the diversity present in our society. We acknowledge that there are numerous sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, locally and globally. The common goal of SNFC is to facilitate the conversation while providing insight and education around this often divisive subject. We hope for healthy dialogue as we seek better understanding and full acceptance of LGBTTQI* members in our community and beyond.

As readers may be aware, there has been much in the media of late surrounding Steinbach as it wrestles with inclusion of the LGBTTQI* community. In the fall of 2014, a number of area people drove to Winnipeg to attend a play centered on this subject called “Listening for Grace”. The content of this presentation gave rise to the formation of Steinbach Neighbours for Community, a group that had long observed the need for a support organization for Steinbach’s LGBTTQI* citizens, their families and allies. Other proceedings spurred further call for discussion …. feedback surrounding Manitoba’s Bill 18, the departure of Steinbach and area LGBTTQI* residents who felt unwelcome, parents feeling isolated, and the presence of a GSA alliance at the public high school, among others.

This website is an ongoing project of SNFC. We aim to provide our readership with information pertaining to events and resources as we strive to relate to those in our community who identify as other than heterosexual. In time, we hope to create more spaces for LGBTTQI* people and their families to speak about their experiences, to share their insights and to tell their stories.

Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests

Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests has been committed to cultivating an inclusive church and society since 1976, caring for the Mennonite and Brethren LGBTTQ* and allied community. They offer educational resources, family retreats, conferences, workshops, support connections and provide a network of affirming congregations within our church communities. Call 612.343.2060, or email


Dignity is Canada’s organization of Roman Catholics who are concerned about our church’s sexual theology, particularly as it pertains to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Recovery of Hope Counselling

Recovery of Hope Counselling has caring professionals who welcome people of all backgrounds and provide services to all who desire to make a change or work through an issue or problem. It is a program of Eden Health Care Services with locations in Winnipeg, Steinbach, Winkler, Altona and Portage la Prairie.