1. What experiences have you or your congregation had in sponsoring refugees? What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts? What motivates a congregation to sponsor a refugee family?
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario assists refugees who have suffered persecution, violence and human rights abuses to resettle in Canada through partnerships with churches and other constituencies.
A new Immigration Act for Canada in 1976 included a provision for private sponsorship of refugees. A Mennonite Member of Parliament, Jake Epp from Steinbach, Man., had been advocating this option in order for church and community groups—the private sector—to become involved in settling people in Canada.
Inspired by Western Canada’s prairie landscape and the ever-changing light in the sky there, Chai Bouphaphanh spends his leisure time exploring his surroundings through the lens of a camera. His most recent success is having a photograph that he entered in a contest selected for the National Geographic collection of photographs.
For Serge Kaptegaine, the opening ceremonies for Ref-Nyota, a new business venture that promotes the skills and talents of refugees, was an answer to prayer. The event was held at Le Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, Winnipeg, on April 23.
After welcoming us into her new home, Suad Saidam promptly excuses herself, re-emerging with ice-cold water bottles on a silver tray. In Arab cultures, guests are always served refreshments in this way, one of the many hallmarks of their unending hospitality.
1. What is the relationship between the Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church Canada congregations in your community? Do you agree that the relationship between the MBs and other Mennonites has changed over the years from one of tension to cooperation?
Among the 2010 recipients of the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honour, is Bert Loewen, a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church. The announcement was made on May 12 by Lieutenant-Governor Philip Lee. Loewen played a vital role in the establishment of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and was its first executive director.
On a tour in Ukraine in October 2006, Gert and Katherine Martens experienced an emotional moment when a farmer in Oktaybreskoe removed a few planks from his wall and uncovered the tombstone of Jacob D. and Wilhelmine Reimer. It didn’t take them long to decipher the deep etching on the large granite stone and realize it was Gert’s great-great-grandparents.
This year the Mennonite Brethren Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a week-long celebration in B.C. in July. What have the MBs contributed to the wider Mennonite community during the past century-and-a-half? What has been its relationship to Mennonite Church Canada, or to the General Conference Mennonite Church, which also began in 1860?
While Will Braun applauds Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for its commitment to shrink its carbon footprint by 20 percent over the next 10 years, he wonders whether it is just “belt-tightening” or setting a new environmental paradigm, whether it is “leading or following.”
It is becoming undeniably clear that western civilization has entered a post-Christian age.
Whereas Christians once believed the world would eventually be brought within the expanding empire of Christendom, it is now obvious this will never happen. To the contrary, Christendom has been losing its influence on western culture for several hundred years.
Anabaptism has been around for almost 500 years. For much of that time, it has been clothed in Mennonite and Amish traditions and culture. But what does it look like without Mennonite and Amish clothing? That’s what Stuart Murray wondered. The result is The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials Of A Radical Faith (Herald Press).
No, it’s not what you might be thinking—nobody is nude. At least, not literally, although more than 300 people have joined the Naked Anabaptist group on the Facebook social media site to metaphorically explore what it means to strip down to the bare essentials of the Anabaptist faith.
They’re advertised on billboards, on radio and television. The kiosk in your local grocery store or shopping mall sells them. Your local charity wants you to buy one to help it out? Buy what, you ask. A lottery ticket, of course.
Or your daughter’s basketball team needs money for new jerseys? Just join the game pool.
Mennonite organizations tend to agree that gambling is wrong, but few policies are in place to respond to donations of gambling revenue. Perhaps this is because of a prevailing sense that such donations are rare or non-existent, and could be dealt with on a case by case basis if the need arises.
I’ve never resisted selling chocolates or magazines for my children’s school, but this time was different. “Would you volunteer a few hours of your time at our casino fundraiser?” the letter asked. Only two nights of parent volunteers at a local casino and our school could earn about $40,000 towards computer equipment or playground upgrades.
1. What have been some of the more effective and less effective ways that you have heard Scripture read during worship? What are the advantages and disadvantages of reading longer passages? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a wide variety of people in reading Scripture?
1. How does your congregation commemorate the pain of the cross and celebrate the joy of Easter? What do you find most meaningful? Peter J. Dyck describes a papier-maché drama that he experienced in Poland. How would that drama be received at your church?
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
(Paul, in I Corinthians 15:57).
Easter is the most joyous holiday on our calendar. Nature decorates the landscape with colourful flowers, birds sing and women display their new dresses. The cynics say it is only an annual spring fashion show.
On that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about 11 kilometres from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.
1. How are country churches different from city churches? Do you agree with Phil Wagler that country churches are more traditional? What are the advantages of living in the city or living in the country? What might make a large urban church more attractive than a small rural one?
There I was, the country-bumpkin pastor amidst all the really important people at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa. Such an event is quite the shindig for someone from the sticks. Being asked where you’re from and having to “get them there from here” is quite humorous. Most people gauge where you’re from based on proximity to a major urban centre.