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Editorial

Remembering the saints

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 15, 2017

Almost 13 years ago my family said our final goodbye to my mother. Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber lived a full life on two continents, always actively participating in her extended family, church and larger community. I once observed that she and my dad “collected” friends everywhere they went. Our family’s dining room table always had room for guests, planned for or unexpected. That also meant that my parents, siblings and I could travel to many locations and enjoy meals with friends and hospitality for the night.

Something old and new

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 01, 2017

On the weekend of Oct. 13 to 15, Mennonite church delegates and others took part in Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg. More than 400 of us gathered from across the country to consider the direction we, as Mennonite Church Canada, should take in the years to come.

In praise of reading

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Oct 18, 2017

A formative experience for my childhood faith was the reading of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. Set in the fictional land of Narnia, the seven books tell stories of children from our world who are transported to a land of mythical creatures and cosmic struggles.

The main characters deal with temptations and self-doubts but they are called to live courageously in difficult times. They are encouraged to grow into better versions of themselves. Through it all is Aslan, the noble lion who calls, guides, teaches and supports them in their adventures.

Nurturing a shared identity

Tobi Thiessen
Editorial | By Tobi Thiessen | Oct 04, 2017

In the Future Directions conversations, many people expressed a lingering concern that the proposed regional network forming Mennonite Church Canada could cause us, as a church family, to lose a nationwide sense of shared mission and identity. The fear is that each region will be preoccupied with its own local agenda and, therefore, will pull back from connecting with the broader church.

Making space for the Spirit

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Sep 20, 2017 | 4 comments

Fourteen months have gone by since the conclusion of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process and the decision congregational delegates made at Assembly 2016. At the end of that seven-year process, a large majority of the delegates voted in favour of “creating space” for congregations to differ from one another when it comes to committed same-sex relationships.

Dare to dream again

Willard Metzger
Editorial | By Willard Metzger | Sep 06, 2017

Many of the stories in the pages of this magazine reflect the dreams of the people in our church family. There are stories of successful ministries, families reunited, young voices full of energy and hope. We also read stories of broken relationships, unanticipated outcomes, and of God at work in miraculous, unplanned and unexpected ways.

These stories of personal achievement, defeat, hope and surprise are also the stories shared by the wider church.

Happy birthday, CM!

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Aug 23, 2017

On my bookshelf sit 19 bound volumes of Canadian Mennonite. I’m looking at Vol. 1, No. 1, published on Sept. 15, 1997. Yes, that means that, come Sept. 15, we will celebrate 20 years of this magazine in its current form.

Is there a future for missions?

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about missions. The feature in this issue is Part 2 in a series focussing on partnerships between congregations and Witness workers. These workers were sent by Mennonite Church Canada on our behalf, to use their skills and their passions alongside local Christians for the work of God in those unique settings. (See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Are you prepared to die?

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jun 28, 2017 | 4 comments

Recently I sat in an audience of several hundred Christian communicators and watched the feature film, Silence, by accomplished American director Martin Scorsese.

The movie was released in January, but—movie buffs that we are—my husband and I did not race out to see it in the local theatre. The subject is martyrdom.

Broadening our prayers

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jun 14, 2017

As I began writing this, my Twitter and Facebook feeds reported news about a gun attack on an Egyptian bus carrying Coptic Christians. The world gasped and wept—once again. The people of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan struggle with the enormous challenge of caring for thousands of people fleeing violence in their neighbouring homeland. From the West Bank we hear news of more house demolitions. And Syrian refugees in our own communities tell stories of homes and places of worship destroyed, of violence and fear.

On engaging millennials

Ally Siebert

Editorial | May 31, 2017 | 3 comments

Millennials, born between 1981 and 2001, are known to be the first generation contending with technology and social media in our personal, professional and relational lives from the start.

We also hear that we’re lazy, entitled, screen-obsessed narcissists (with nice beards and cool cafés). If that weren’t enough, there are plenty of legitimate headlines that decry millennials for “killing” a lot of important things, including hotels, the napkin industry, democracy, handshakes, the European Union and breakfast cereal.

Walking toward wellness

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 17, 2017

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.—Various attributions

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of all Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Those statistics apply to people in our congregations as well, even if we don’t always like to talk about them in church. One in five of us sitting in a Sunday worship service has experienced—or will experience—our own mental health crisis. And many more of us will walk in the valley of darkness with a family member, friend or colleague.

Beyond guilt and lament

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 03, 2017 | 2 comments

Years ago, I needed some practical help. A person close to me—someone who had the ability to lend a hand—saw my need and said repeatedly, “I wish I could help, but I can’t. I feel so guilty.” That guilt did me no good. Instead of feeling supported, I felt resentful.

Today we are learning about ways in which our ancestors—and we—have deeply wounded the indigenous peoples of this land: the historic taking of land and the residential schools, and also the present inequalities in health, education and community support, along with the insidious racism of our society.

Change, I welcome you

Tobi Thiessen
Editorial | By Tobi Thiessen | Apr 19, 2017 | 1 comment

Anxiety about change abounds. It is a natural response to uncertainty, but I tire of reading about it. Newly taking up my role as publisher of this magazine, I would like to be bold and announce, “Change, I welcome you.” I would also like to praise the staff at Canadian Mennonite for taking our new leadership structure in stride, welcoming me in and being open to new ideas and possibilities.

Church lessons

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Apr 05, 2017 | 2 comments

My church experience has included at least 13 Mennonite churches, a Baptist church, an inter-denominational church and two Catholic schools. That represents more worship services and Sunday school lessons than I can count! Not many details from the sermons and classes stick in my mind, but those experiences taught me many lessons over the years. Here are a few.

Farewell, my friends

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017 | 3 comments

It’s been a good eight-year ride, my friends, with a few bumps along the way. I will miss this biweekly meeting with you on the second page of Canadian Mennonite. While it’s been a monologue, I have felt it had the makings of a dialogue, of one friend sharing thoughts with another friend. I have tried to make it more of a conversation than a lecture.

The past as prologue

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 08, 2017

“While Anabaptists affirm the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture, we are not strict literalists,” writes Palmer Becker in his just-released book, Anabaptist Essentials. This Canadian pastor, educator and missionary makes his point from no less than our Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, a document being held up as something of a Mennonite creed by some biblical literalists.

In the cross-hairs of change

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 22, 2017

“The times, they are a-changin,” belted out singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in the mid 1960s.

While Dylan made the words a hum-them-all-day-long habit for many of his fans, those of us living more than a half-century later smile to ourselves and ask: “What’s new about that?” Change has been constantly a part of our lives if we are awake and taking nourishment every day. Get used to it, sister. Adjust your lenses regularly.

Thank You!

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 08, 2017

It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank and recognize the generosity of the 835 donors, including 45 new ones, to our 2016 spring and fall fundraising drives that brought a record $119,403 into our coffers toward operating expenses and our endowment fund.

The ‘sin’ of disunity

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 25, 2017 | 7 comments

The tension in the room was palpable. High winds and blizzard conditions outside kept some from attending the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship meeting in Winnipeg (see “Let him speak,” page 18), but the stormy weather on Jan. 12 was not confined to the outdoors. Inside the winds of confrontation were brewing, too.

Making the list

Aaron Epp
Editorial | By Aaron Epp | Jan 11, 2017

At the end of every year, I get together with a group of friends and we discuss our favourite music that came out in the previous 12 months. As a starting point for the discussion, each of us creates a list of our 10 favourite albums of the year.

When we began this music night many years ago, I was tempted to come up with an objective list of the Top Ten Best Albums of the Year. It would be a definitive list of the undeniably best music released in all of the world.

A year of re-visioning

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 21, 2016

This year—2017—will bring changes for members of Mennonite Church Canada, a denominational entity to be reconfigured into a proposed structure of five area churches doing the work of a denominational centre in Winnipeg. It is uncharted territory, to say the least.

We need ‘Emmanuel’ like never before

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 07, 2016 | 1 comment

If ever we needed to hear “Emmanuel” (God with us), it is during this Advent season as we wind up the year 2016. With violence prevailing in war-torn countries, and political upheaval changing the face of our neighbour to the south, not to mention changes in our own denominational structure, we seem to be groping for a divine peace like never before.

A new conversation about dementia

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 16, 2016 | 3 comments

When the diagnosis of dementia hits you up close and personal, as it has me with the decline of my spouse Marlene due to the disease, it sends you on a grief journey that clouds your perspective on life. The questions come fast and furious.

Why did this happen to her, a person so dynamic and useful, so looking forward to fulfillment of dreams at the end of the road, to spending time with family and friends, perhaps some travelling and learning of other cultures, being a gracious grandmother and enjoying the special bond of close friends going through the aging process?

No more closed doors

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 02, 2016 | 1 comment

The pastors of Mennonite Church British Columbia got together recently in a closed meeting to discuss their response to the Being a Faithful Church 7 resolution passed at Assembly 2016.

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