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Rejoice with the Congolese

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 29, 2012

It is much too easy in these days of self-examination as Anabaptist Christians in the 21st century to punish ourselves for colossal blunders when “spreading the gospel” here and around the world in the last century.

Such could be the case as we celebrate, with what is the Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission and its predecessors, 100 years of our mission efforts on the African sub-continent and what that work has spawned—the Communauté Mennonite au Congo or CMCO (Mennonite Community in Congo), see our major feature, p. 4.

Bringing in the ‘peaceable kingdom’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 15, 2012 | 1 comment

There may be good reason why we, the Mennonites, are not joining the United Church of Canada, the Anglican bishops and 28 Presbyterian churches in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland in a protest against the Northern Gateway oil-sands pipeline.

Assembly 2012: a many-splendored thing

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 25, 2012 | 2 comments

It’s difficult to pinpoint just what made Assembly 2012 in Vancouver earlier this month a standout. Its rich textured fabric made it a many-splendored thing that made you want to dance despite the heavy theme of “Dusting off the Bible for the 21st Century.”

Dusting off the Bible we did. 21st Century it was.

Gift discernment?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 04, 2012

“Gift discernment,” as practised in many of our congregations, is neither. This sometimes agonizing ritual of finding enough willing members to fill the slots needed to keep the faith community functioning on an annual basis is often an arduous task for those assigned to find those volunteer bodies.

Discernment front and centre

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 20, 2012 | 1 comment

“Discernment,” a word in vogue right now among church leaders and theologians, can seem abstract, almost pedantic, and elusive as an operative term for the person in the pew. We seem to use it a lot these days as we wend our way through issues that confront us as followers of Jesus in the 21st century.

What does it mean? It sounds important and impressive, something we should take seriously.

Dusty Bibles?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 06, 2012 | 1 comment

Dusting off our Bibles for assembly?

If indeed they are dusty, something has gone wrong for the people of the Book.

Wrestling with the ‘powers’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 23, 2012 | 1 comment

His voice was anxious. Member of Parliament Paul Calandra was on the other end of the line. From his office in Ottawa, he seemed uncomfortable with the interview, hesitating, from time to time, to answer my questions. There were several mixed messages.

Are we an endangered species?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 09, 2012

Are our Mennonite institutions an endangered species? Are they headed for extinction in this post-Christian era when the emphasis seems to be more on “spiritual” than “religious”?

Big box churches

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 25, 2012 | 1 comment

Springtime was in full theatre as we travelled back from Virginia on a Sunday morning recently after a week’s break. Viewing the redbud, dogwood and lilacs providing the backdrop for lush green meadows was as much worship as meeting with the saints in song, scripture and sermon. We turned off the radio and drove in silence, soaking in all the beauty.

Still strangers among us?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 11, 2012 | 1 comment

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).

Still in need of a village square

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 28, 2012

This is the time of year when Canadian Mennonite’s 12 board members gather for their annual meeting to look backward and forward to see how the national publication has met the needs of its readers, has ongoing financial viability and is meeting the challenges of a New Media age.

Evangelism redefined

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 14, 2012

“True evangelical faith is of such a nature it cannot lie dormant, but spreads itself out in all kinds of righteousness and fruits of love; it dies to flesh and blood; it destroys all lusts and forbidden desires; it seeks, serves and fears God in its inmost soul; it clothes the naked; it feeds the hungry; it comforts the sorrowful; it shelters the destitute; it aids and consoles the sad; it does good to those who do it harm; it serves those that harm it; it prays for those who persecute it; it teaches, admonishes and judges us with the Word of the Lord; it seeks those who are lost; it binds

Martyrs Mirror as totem

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 29, 2012

Mennonite poet and writer Julia Spicher Kasdorf wonders why Martyrs Mirror, the “big unreadable book,” as she calls it, is making a comeback in her generation of young Mennonites.  

Not only has the artwork of famous 16th-century Anabaptist martyr Dirk Willems rescuing his persecutor from the icy waters of a Dutch pond gone viral on the Internet, she noted that it was marketed by our own Mennonite publishers as a gift edition in 2002 because of its value as a “treasured, if unread, object in mainstream Mennonite culture.” 

Letter to my children and grandchildren

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 15, 2012

To my family,

Since our Saskatchewan correspondent wanted to write about caring for seniors in the church (p. 4), I wanted to share some personal thoughts triggered by her investigation. I hope you don’t mind my getting a little more “philosophical” than usual.

Our naked selves

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 01, 2012

Stuart Murray, the “outsider” Anabaptist, is making his rounds in our circles with his book The Naked Anabaptist and Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest, is making his way into our book studies and religious consciousness with his newest book The Naked Now.

Listen to our prophets

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 18, 2012

Reflecting recently on 57 years of writing as “an icon of Canadian literature,” Ruby Wiebe told an overflow audience at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., that one of the lessons learned in all of his storytelling was that “Mennonites tended to always view their neighbours—whether in the Ukraine, Paraguay or the western Canadian Prairies—as ‘the other.’ ”

Bergen, Braun re-assigned

Editorial | Jan 04, 2012 | 1 comment

Rachel Bergen, national correspondent, has been re-assigned as co-editor of Young Voices, and New Order Voice columnist Will Braun has been hired as senior writer.  Both will work out of their locations in Winnipeg. The new positions were effective Jan. 1.

A matter of the heart

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 04, 2012

As we enter the year 2012, one of my goals for Canadian Mennonite and for its primary readership—members of the faith community of Mennonite Church Canada—is to maintain a high level of conversation that fills the pages of this publication.

What about proof-texting?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 14, 2011

An Ontario pastor raised the question of not defining proof-texting and challenged my guideline of wanting only “new information” when calling for a “reasoned discussion” on sexuality, in his letter to the editor, “Let the Bible speak on sexual matters,” Nov. 28, page 13.

Enduring words for Advent

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 23, 2011

Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed” (Psalms 2:1-2; Acts 4:25-26)

In solidarity with the 99 percent?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 09, 2011 | 1 comment

What are we to make of the Occupy Wall Street movement gathering steam in North American cities and around the globe?

At a gut level, our Anabaptist instincts have us identifying with the protests of the 99 percent in their efforts to form a movement that addresses the widening gap between the rich and poor, and the favouring of political systems of the corporate barons over the middle and lower classes.

A reasoned discussion

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 26, 2011 | 1 comment

“Enough already.” I can already hear groans of despair as we, once again, open up the conversation about sexuality in all of its manifestations. In a search of our database, our managing editor, Ross W. Muir, discovered that this publication and its predecessor, the Mennonite Reporter, have carried a total of 232 articles on the subject, ranging from sexual abuse, child sex tourism, same and safe sex, to sex offenders, sex change, sexual abstinence, sexual misconduct and sexual boundaries. The list goes on.

Try a little thanks-living

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 12, 2011

How is it that we have turned our one national holiday asking us to give thanks into a day of self-indulgent feasting, marching bands and watching tough guys beat up on each other while chasing a football down the field?

Hearing young voices

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 28, 2011

As a person old enough to be their grandparent, I have to be careful with my words about young people. Having grandchildren of my own, I have learned, sometimes the hard way, to regard the boundaries which respectfully guard the integrity, identity and idealism of the younger generation.

Ten years later

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 14, 2011

The question isn’t, “Has our world changed since that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001?” It is rather, “How have we changed 10 years after?”

As I write this, the air and print are filled with reflections on this anniversary date. The emotional wounds of the families of the fallen victims working at the World Trade Center on that tragic day are still raw, their losses still keenly felt. The violent and abrupt end of their loved ones is still overwhelming.