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Staying afloat in a sea of change

Viewpoints | By John Longhurst | Jan 11, 2017

For some in Mennonite Church Canada, this might be a frightening time, as the denomination faces an uncertain future. It might be cold comfort, but you are not alone; most denominations in Canada are facing the same uncertainties today.

I know this because last year I interviewed people who do fundraising for 15 Canadian denominational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that represent 30 denominations. Everyone I spoke with agreed that this is a challenging time for denominations and the programs they support.

And what are those challenges facing denominations today?

Deepening our faith journeys

Shirley Stauffer Redekop, front row centre, is pictured with some of the 24 Canadian participants at last fall’s ‘Deep faith’ conference at AMBS. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Stauffer Redekop)

Viewpoints | By Shirley Stauffer Redekop | Jan 11, 2017

“Jesus calls us to life-long journeys of faith—shaped in part by our age and stage in life. Faith practices are deepest and richest when our Christian community embraces and nurtures all these different ages and stages of our lives in a variety of contexts.”

Readers write: January 2, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Dec 21, 2016

‘A timely rebuke’ to MC B.C.’s ‘professional’ church leaders

Re: “No more closed doors” editorial, Nov. 7, 2016, page 2.

Hope across generations

Calvin Quan
Viewpoints | By Calvin Quan | Dec 21, 2016

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40: 30-31).

In my new role as moderator of Mennonite Church Canada, I’ve been privileged to meet people of all ages who make up our church family. (See “‘New moderator brings ‘non-anxious presence’.”)

Going home

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Dec 21, 2016

One of the sweetest phrases in the Bible, “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), is often heard at Christmas. With joy and gratitude, we celebrate the incarnation, God taking on human flesh in Jesus, and making a home with us. Similarly, the vision of Revelation 21:3 proclaims in The Message: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women!” Images of home—God making a home with and for us, and our making our home in God—abound in the Bible.

Generosity superheroes

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen
Viewpoints | By Dori Zerbe Cornelsen | Dec 21, 2016

Superhero movies are all the rage. One website says it is the most popular movie genre around. We all want someone to put things right in turbulent times. Even Lego Batman might do.

When we feel like things are spinning out of our control, we tend to hold on tighter to what we have. What happened to the right always prevailing, we ask? Oh, to have heroes put things back in order the way we expect them to be.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 3)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Dec 21, 2016

One of the most overlooked fruits borne in the life of someone who genuinely follows the way of Jesus and lives in the Spirit, is wisdom. If we put into practice what Jesus teaches us, we will become increasingly wise.

Wisdom was central to Jesus’ identity, even as a child. The only passage of Scripture about Jesus’ early years is found in Luke 2:40-52. Luke begins this childhood vignette saying, “The child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.” Then Luke tells a story, the only story the gospels record about Jesus as an adolescent.

CMBC choir

Photo: Rudy Regehr / Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Dec 21, 2016

George Wiebe conducts the Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) choir in an impromptu song on a B.C. ferry while on tour in May 1966. The choir gave 24 performances in 17 days, and 39 of the 43 singers also spoke at these events. The tour was an important community-building event for the choir members, but also for the school and supporting congregations. In spite of a minor vehicle accident, all had an enjoyable time.

Readers write: December 12, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Dec 07, 2016

Is the Doctrine of Discovery yesterday’s news?

Re: “Discovering humility” column, Sept. 26, page 7.

It seems Pope Paul III may have spoken to the Doctrine of Discovery already, in his 1537 papal encyclical:

The new normal now

Ken Warkentin
Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Dec 07, 2016

For the past two months I have been living with post-concussion syndrome after an incident that involved a bear, a rock and the rain.

Are we living in the last millennium?

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Dec 07, 2016

No one would doubt that Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University theoretical physicist and cosmologist, is one of the more brilliant minds of recent times. The guy forgets more in a day then I’ll learn in a lifetime. The Theory of Everything, the movie of his marriages, his journey with early-onset Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS—more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), and his rise to fame, is a great watch and stirs much thought about the nature of love, faith and science. Hawking intrigues and he has wide influence.

Church wants to spread the ‘Living Word’

Pastor Getachew Woldeyes, left, and Elder Rediet Lemichael of Church of the Living Word in Ottawa, an Ethiopian emerging congregation in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalksy)

Viewpoints | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 07, 2016

Church of the Living Word in Ottawa became an emerging church in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada in 2009, although it was founded four years earlier.

Church of the Living Word has some members, including Pastor Getachew Woldeyes’s wife, who belonged to Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, a Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member church.

Understanding opponents of LGBTQ inclusion

Will Braun
Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Dec 07, 2016 | 2 comments

Officially, the resolution creating greater openness to LGBTQ people received 85 percent support at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly. That number is incomplete—more on that below—but it establishes a new narrative in which a majority within MC Canada expresses a degree of openness toward LGBTQ inclusion. So what about the people excluded from that narrative?

Viewpoints: Calls for understanding and repentance

Viewpoints | Dec 07, 2016 | 4 comments

These are two responses to Will Braun’s ‘Understanding opponents of LGBTQ inclusion’ column.

No. 1: Seeking ways to move forward

By Lois Epp

Coaldale baptism

Photo from Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies/Mennonite Archival Image Database-

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Dec 07, 2016

This classic baptism photo from Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church has been incorrectly dated as from the 1940s. Dedicated volunteers, who have a long-standing passion for the history of the church and a long institutional memory, believed there was an error in the description. With some effort, they found two newspaper reports that gave the details of the event. Now the record can be corrected: This photo is of a joint baptism service of the Lethbridge and Coaldale Mennonite Brethren churches. The service was held on Sept.

Readers write: November 21, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 16, 2016

Reader supports Mennonite call to ‘speak up’

Re: “Mennonites should speak up about Muslim head coverings” letter, Oct. 10, page 10.

This letter is right on. We have had a business in a non-Mennonite area for many years. Our customers came from every origin. Our employees never distinguished between the ethnic dress of anyone.

On being Martha

Coreena Stewart
Viewpoints | By Coreena Stewart | Nov 16, 2016

Hospitality makes my heart sing. Preparing a comfortable space, serving up new dishes, conversing with guests and attending to their individual needs: these are among my greatest joys.

Maybe that’s why the story of sisters Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 has always troubled me. I confess that, as one who loves to host, it’s easy to side with Martha, who complains to Jesus that she does all the work while Mary sits at his feet. It’s just as easy to be puzzled by Jesus’ response: “Mary chose the better task.”

Healthy citizens

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Nov 16, 2016

My husband and I decided to live in the United States this fall. Flexible work made it possible to move temporarily to a small town near where we grew up, with a primary goal of providing support to my 85-year-old mother. Belatedly, we realized that meant we would be immersed in a presidential election, a prospect that was, by turns, intriguing or unsettling.

Thinking outside the gift box

Marlow Gingerich
Viewpoints | By Marlow Gingerich | Nov 16, 2016

As our family sat around the Thanksgiving dinner table discussing our plans for Christmas and the virtue of giving gifts, someone piped up and said: “We already have too much stuff. Please don’t buy us anything for Christmas this year. We don’t need anything!”

Have you heard this statement before? When people complain that individuals are hard to buy for, this surely could be one of the reasons.

Goodbye Berlin

Photo by Gordon Eby / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Nov 16, 2016

Gordon Eby captured the moment when families in Berlin, Ont., said goodbye to local troops at the start of the First World War in 1914. In 1916, concerned that its Germanic name was bad for business, the city would say ‘goodbye’ to Berlin and ‘hello’ to Kitchener. The Berlin Mennonite Church faced a dilemma. Should it adopt the name of the ‘warlord’ war hero Lord Kitchener?

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 2)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Nov 16, 2016

A school teacher asked her class of first graders, “What colour are apples?”

Some children said “red!”

Others exclaimed “green!”

A few said “yellow.”

Then one little boy raised his hand and said, “Apples are white.”

The teacher patiently explained that apples could be red, yellow or green, but never white. However, the boy insisted. Finally the teacher asked him, “Where did you see a white apple?”

“Every apple is white” he explained. “Look inside!”

Readers write: November 7, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 02, 2016 | 1 comment

Philpott deserves better from us

Re: “Put not your trust in ‘princesses’ ” letter, Sept. 26, page 10.

I am irritated when the press and the public berate our government ministers for spending money on hotel rooms and taxis.

‘ReLearning’ community

Brian Bauman
Viewpoints | By Brian Bauman | Nov 02, 2016

As a Mennonite baby boomer, going to church was family reunion, Christian faith and social life all rolled up into one tight-knit package. Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church was my community.  

Our heritage is . . .

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Nov 02, 2016

Our family was invited to an Indo-Canadian family birthday celebration. A one-year milestone, particularly for a son, is a monumental occasion in our friend’s culture. The colourful dress, curried-sensations and dancing were a little overwhelming and invitingly beautiful for a white bloke like me who grew up in southwestern Ontario, where dancing was verboten and curry was “hurry” pronounced incorrectly.

Expressing love with food

Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church expressed love to long-time pastor Fred Redekop and his family with a farewell faspa, a traditional Russian Mennonite meal. (Photo by Roy Draper)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Nov 02, 2016

Fred Redekop often reminded his congregation that preparing food for others who may be struggling with illness or a death in the family is a way of showing love and care.

So when it came time to say farewell to him after 25 years as our pastor, we wondered what food was appropriate for our farewell meal. Agreeing on a menu proved to be challenging, but after many conversations we finally decided to honour our out-going pastor with a faspa, a traditional “Russian” Mennonite Sunday meal.