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A spacious year

A year ago, I said goodbye to my job and stepped into an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown, or beyond certainty, as my father would qualify when he spoke of plans, concluding, “Lord willing.” The same acknowledgement comes from our Muslim friends who say inshallah with a similar meaning.

Continuous pruning

With the arrival of summer, my wife and I have been enjoying more time outside. Our yard contains many different fruit trees, shrubs and grapevines that provide shade, beauty, and a harvest of berries and fruits. The trees and shrubs are easily managed. However, the grapevines are another story.

Edward Beatty

Edward Beatty, front row right, and John Dennis, behind him, speak with Mennonite girls. Dennis was a young man in 1874 who witnessed the Mennonite immigration to Manitoba. Over the next decades, he observed that the Mennonites were honest, hardworking and trustworthy farmers. By 1922, he was a commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Tim’s rhubarb pie

Tim Sauer, who is known as the “pie man,” bakes at least 200 pies a year that he gives away to encourage volunteers and those who work in church-related organizations. This is his recipe for rhubarb pie, a favourite of John Neufeld, executive-director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont.

Tractor and binder

The Voth family in the Steinbach, Manitoba, area on the farm with tractor and binder in the 1940s. August is a busy harvesting time for farmers and gardeners with eyes on the upcoming fall and winter. Farming has changed dramatically in the past decades but remains the backbone to feeding the country and beyond.

Letting all our gifts bloom

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

Holy sexuality

The irony wasn’t lost on me, or on others. At last summer’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly, people discussed, debated and discerned holy sexuality. Specifically, they considered, “Is there space in Mennonite churches for people who are in same-sex relationships?”

Rabbit Lake church

The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church in Rabbit Lake, Sask., 1938. In 1941, 87 percent of Mennonites were rural dwellers. By 1971, the number crashed to 53 percent and has continued to decline. There has been a massive shift in Mennonite communities toward urbanization, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities.

Spaces of trust

“We aren’t going to lose youth because we haven’t entertained them. We’ll lose them because we haven’t trusted or challenged them.”

I heard this quote from Shane Claiborne at a conference in 2012, and it came back to me a few weeks ago at Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering during a lunch meeting with leaders of youth.

Microfilm

An idea mixed with passion and solid financial support were the ingredients that combined for a great accomplishment. In 1977 and ’78, young Bill Reimer from Winnipeg set out with elder statesman J.B. Toews  to cross North America in a truck and trailer microfilming congregational records.

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