Life-giving touch

Melissa Miller

Many years ago, a boyfriend who subsequently became my husband gave me a book about touch and its essential place in human well-being. At the time, touch was a delightful dynamic in our new relationship. Within the boundaries of our Christian ethics, we explored physical intimacies, one of the expressions of our deepening love.

Ordinary discipleship

How comfortable are you with change? Change seems to be the most consistent “unchanging” reality of our lives. We are always experiencing change. Thankfully many, or even most, of the changes we experience are small or gradual, like the steady change in my hair colour to ever-more grey!

Confession of a ‘road rage pastor’

I’ve had a bit of a road rage problem. It peeves me when I need to throw on the brakes because another vehicle pulled out in front of me. Sadly, too often my reaction has been to tailgate, eventually pass and possibly toot my horn. I tell myself that I’m helping the other motorist see his error so he might become a better driver—or she, as the case may be. My dear wife is not convinced.

Tending and befriending

Members of the Mennonite Women Manitoba working group, from left to right: Laura Funk, Elsie Rempel, Larissa Pahl, Elsie Wiebe and Kathy Giesbrecht. (Photo courtesy of Elsie Rempel)

From time immemorial—as the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi illustrates—developing friendships and tending relationships have often been a woman’s “go-to, our have-to, our live for,” especially during times of stress. In the current season of stressful change within Mennonite Church Canada, tending relationships may be especially important to the health of the church.

‘Our missionaries’

More than a decade ago, my family and I were privileged to serve as church planters in southern Italy. We were Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers seconded to what is now Virginia Mennonite Mission, and were financially supported by many friends, family members and our home congregation, Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont.

Acting like adults

In a phone conversation with a friend, she reveals her struggle with an event she is planning. Given that the gathering will be held in a small space, there are a limited number of people she can invite. After telling me whom she thinks she will include, she speaks of others, those left off the guest list. “I feel badly because they might be hurt,” she sighs. “I’m not sure what to do.”

Buried treasure

Lately, I have had several conversations with people about downsizing or simplifying their estates. Some talk about rearranging their financial affairs to make life easier for their executors someday. Others face the physically and emotionally demanding task of moving from the homes they have lived in for many years to smaller, more manageable accommodations.

Steinbach windmill

Photo: Jake Peters Photo Collection / Mennonite Heritage Archives

Mennonites learned how to harness the wind while in the Netherlands, and used this knowledge in the 16th and 17th centuries in Prussia, where wind-powered mills were primarily used to pump water to drain land.  Between 1876 and ’78, four windmills were built in the Steinbach, Man., area by Mennonites.

What does ‘sorry’ mean?

During the Sixties Scoop Apology Engagement at Edmonton’s Amiskwaciy Academy on March 1, 2018, survivors were invited to paint their experiences onto canvas for others to see. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld )

During the Sixties Scoop Apology Engagement at Edmonton’s Amiskwaciy Academy on March 1, survivors were invited to paint their experiences onto canvas for others to see. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld )

“Sorry” is a very Canadian expression, but what does it mean?

To the more than 200 Sixties Scoop survivors gathered at the Amiskwaciy Academy in Edmonton on March 1, 2018, the word is problematic. The hearing is the last of six events held across Alberta by the NDP government in an effort to make an upcoming government apology meaningful.

What ‘women’s conference’ is all about

The ‘Blues Sistas’ from Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary lip sync to ‘Do You Love Me?’ by the Blues Brothers during the talent show at this year’s MC Alberta women’s retreat. Pictured from left to right: LaVerna Elliot, Jenny Hiebert, Linda Bohnet, and Charlotte Mikalson. (Photo by Helena Ball)

Recently I was asked what is so special about the Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat.

I remember, as a kid, my mom leaving us in my father’s care in order to go to “women’s conference.” We had a big family, and for my mom to take time away from the conference was something unheard of.

Butternut bisque recipe

It takes commitment to use up 18 large squash. Pictured with the squash is April Klassen. (Photo courtesy of Erin Froese)

Sharing soup builds community. (Photo courtesy of Erin Froese)

Last fall when Erin Froese and her household received the gift of many large squash they had trouble using it all up. They made a couple large pots of Butternut bisque and invited their neighbours to join them for a winter soup night.

Squash: A main course for fellowship

Erin Froese enjoys turning squash into butternut bisque for those who live in her intentional community and the guests who join them. (Photo courtesy of Erin Froese)

Butternut Bisque

When a friend asked me last spring if I would like to live with nine other people for the following school year, my initial reaction was a firm no. I couldn’t imagine figuring out all of the details like eating, cleaning, sharing spaces and resolving conflicts, among many others. Despite my hesitation, somehow I found myself agreeing to this adventure in intentional communal living.


Photo by Sam Steiner / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

This image of a Passover meal appears next to Exodus 12 in a Bible published in Zurich in 1531. The idea of owning a family Bible, especially in one’s own language, was very new at the time for families of modest means. This particular Bible travelled from Switzerland to Pennsylvania to Ontario with the Reesor family of Markham.

Words worth considering

‘We have a responsibility to our sons to break down the systems of emotional constriction that lead so many men to have lives of quiet desperation and depression,’ says scholar Jackson Katz. (Photo by The Representation Project)

During a Facebook livestream on Ash Wednesday, podcaster and author Mike McHargue made an emotional plea for men to reconsider what masculinity looks like. ( photo)

‘[A] man is empathetic, because a man who is not afraid of his own feelings is not afraid of the feelings of other people,’ says Mike McHargue. (Photo by The Representation Project)

Loneliness, alienation and desperation are at the root of mass violence and suicide, Mike McHargue says. (Photo by The Representation Project)

Although many brave young people have spoken up in the aftermath of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., to advocate for tighter gun regulations in the U.S., it’s words spoken by a man in his 40s that I keep coming back to.


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