To put names and faces to these partnerships, Canadian Mennonite’s correspondents across the country have profiled Witness workers and the churches that support them. Following are stories from B.C. and Alberta.
When you consider Jesus’ three-year ministry, which specific events come to mind? Which of his actions inspire you the most?
When I was in seminary, one assignment was to pick one of the gospels and to identify every encounter Jesus had in that gospel. We were asked:
Apart from communities in the eastern United States, where the song was previously known, Mary Oyer and her committee colleagues had presumed the song would appeal primarily to church choirs looking for a challenge. (Photo by Merrill Miller)
When hymnologist Mary Oyer travelled from Uganda to Oregon to attend the 1969 Mennonite Church general assembly, she was surely filled with anticipation. She arrived in the second week of August to attend the dedication of a new denominational worship book, The Mennonite Hymnal (1969), which the General Conference Mennonite Church would also use.
“And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground”’” (Joshua 4:20-22).
Despite a landmark 2016 peace deal that held the promise of ending more than 50 years of violence in Colombia, Mennonites in South America’s second most populated country report that the conflict that affected more then eight million people—through killings, disappearances, threats and displacement—continues to claim more victims.
Carol Lint speaks to a young girl at a potluck dinner at Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton. (Photo: Helena Ball / Holyrood Mennonite Church)
Members of all cultures at Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver worship together in March 2020, at the last joint service before COVID-19 shut down public worship services. (Photo by Garry Janzen)
An intercultural, intergenerational worship team performs during an intercultural Christmas program at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., in 2019. Pictured from left to right: Doug Cressman at the piano; singers Mira Baergen, John Albrecht, Selina Baergen Noa Bargen and Testimony Amayanvbo; guitarists Irene Suderman and Bryan Moyer Suderman; percussionist Dave Rogalsky; and guitarist Cesar Guevara. (Photo by Felipe Gonzalia)
Enjoying a potluck at Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton are, from left to right: Guenther and Ruth Toews, and Jeremiah, Leila and Rachel Chokpelleh. (Photo by Helena Ball)
Rene Baergen, right, lead pastor of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener speaks at the congregations annual church picnic at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp in 2019. (Photo by Felipe Gonzalia)
Dorathy Chockpelleh and Donna Entz, members of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, warmly embrace. (Photo by Helena Ball)
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing, ‘Christ Has No East or West,’ we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”
‘Light,’ by Zoe Fretz, a Grade 8 student at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., who attends Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, also in Kitchener.
‘It Matters,’ by Jaiden Du Plessis. The Grade 9 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘The world has to work as one voice to show that things matter.’
‘The Light,’ by Rayna Pan. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Remember to always look to the light to find hope.’
‘Tree of Hope,’ by Tara Yasemi. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Hope is a connection to all these ideas.’
‘Untitled,’ by Emma Martin, a Grade 7 student at Centennial Public School, Waterloo, Ont., who attends Elmira (Ont.) Mennonite Church.
Recently, I read a book that unsettled my sense of hope.
God has got this thing for babies. In the midst of all the immense, complex political troubles of Judah, God kept offering babies as signs, inviting King Ahaz to what Alastair Roberts calls ‘the politics of the child’: politics centred on trust, vulnerability and long-range vision. (istock.com photo by Husam Cakaloglu)
It used to be that the tinsel and lights of Christmas didn’t dare emerge until the black cats and orange pumpkins of Halloween were stripped from the shelves. But this year I saw Christmas trees in early October! We had not even given proper thanksgiving for the harvest before boughs of holly decked the halls, enticing us into a winter wonderland.
The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, pictured in Winnipeg in July 2019, from left to right, front row (kneeling): Adam Tice and Anneli Loepp Thiessen; middle row: Mike Erb, Paul Dueck, Darryl Neustaedter Barg, SaeJin Lee, Tom Harder, Allan Rudy-Froese, Katie Graber, Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Bradley Kauffman and Cynthia Neufeld Smith; and back row: Benjamin Bergey. (Photos courtesy of MennoMedia)
Voices Together includes close to a thousand hymns and worship resources that were chosen from a body of work more than 10 times that number. Read about the efforts—and fun—of those who curated the new worship resource. (Photo courtesy of MennoMedia)
It’s the result of an idea proposed over a decade ago and the culmination of more than four years of intense work. It includes close to a thousand hymns and worship resources that were chosen from a body of work more than 10 times that number. It represents the efforts of hundreds of Mennonites from across Canada and the United States.
‘By the Rivers of Babylon (Dalziel’s Bible Gallery),’ wood engraving on India paper, by Sir Edward John Poynter, circa 1865-81. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (creative commons cc0 1.0 universal public domain dedication)
This is an unprecedented time. Unprecedented—it’s a word we’re hearing a lot in the last few months. The sense of disorientation has been palpable, from eerily empty streets to new protocols at the grocery store, an ever-increasing number of masks and people performing acrobatic feats to maintain a two-metre buffer.
A ‘specimen’ of the $5 bill to honour decorated Indigenous Canadian war veteran Tommy Prince. (Image courtesy of Tom Kmiec)
Don Plett, a Conservative senator, is working to help get decorated Indigenous Canadian war veteran Tommy Prince onto a new $5 bill. (Don Plett Facebook page photo)
Although I’m a pacifist who has never voted Conservative, I support the Conservative-led campaign to put a war hero’s face on the $5 bill.
Musician Darryl Neustadter Barg is MC Manitoba’s director of communications and CMU’s media production coordinator. He is pictured leading worship with Bruno Cavalca at the 2019 MC Canada assembly in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Jane Grunau)
An example of how to properly acknowledge a song by naming the creator, arranger and publishing company, and providing a statement of permission from the licensing company (complete with licence number). Taken at an Edmonton First Mennonite Church online service on July 26. (Screenshot by Joanne De Jong)
Life is funny. When something breaks down in the church, whether an oven or an elevator, we fix it. And if we can’t fix it, we buy a new one. We understand that physical property must be paid for.
When I am asked what I do for a living, I often say, “I show people how much fun it is to give their money away.” That elicits a better conversation than if I tell them I manage a registered, charitable, donor-advised foundation.
Marion Regier, left, and Rachel Wallace tie quilts together at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern, Sask, in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Meaningful volunteer experiences help build community. Sarah Warkentin, left, Jessica Rorison and daughter Nyah, Vicky Stucky and Janet Regier tie a quilt at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Hertha Friesen and Edna Sagrott tie quilts together at MCC’s Great Winter Warm Up in Rosthern in January 2020. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Vicky Stucky and Leo Schulz fry rollkuchen at the MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale held in Saskatoon in June 2019. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Eileen Klassen Hamm recalls how, as a young adult, she considered a Mennonite Voluntary Service term to be a good and natural thing to do.
‘The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind,’ part of a series of paintings on the Book of Job by William Blake, 1805-06, commissioned by Thomas Butts. (Public Domain)
‘Job’s Comforters’ turn into his accusers. Watercolour paintings were created by William Blake in 1805-06 for a series on the Book of Job commissioned by Thomas Butts. (Public Domain)
Years ago, I saw a movie about a fishing crew caught at sea when two storms and a hurricane converged to create a “perfect storm.” I have been reminded of this as widespread protest after the death of yet another African-American man in the custody of white police officers crashed into an already devastating novel-coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
Frank H. Epp was the first radio director for the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba and led the Abundant Life radio program. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario / The Canadian Mennonite)
Southern Manitoba Broadcasting Company opened the CFAM radio station in Altona, Man. in 1957. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario / The Canadian Mennonite)
Elmer Hildebrand, CEO of Golden West Broadcasting, was influential in Mennonite involvement in Manitoba radio. (Photo courtesy of Golden West Broadcasting)
Manitoba’s airwaves are full of Mennonite radio. I began to notice this last year when I started hosting a radio program for Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), where I also work.
The gospel of dandelions makes a lot of sense. In this gospel, a wild and stubborn counterculture thrives in a world of domesticated lawns. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)
“In this gospel, a wild and stubborn counterculture thrives in a world of domesticated lawns.” (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)
I have a problem with dandelions. Late spring is high season for dandelions, when those bright-yellow blooms make their presence in yards and fields abundantly clear. Within a month or two, the flowers will be gone and the dandelion leaves will blend pretty well into the rest of the grass. Fresh from a good mowing, our lawn will look nice enough through the summer.
‘. . . that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ . . .’ (Colossians 4:3) (Photo by Jane Grunau)
When Hymnal: A Worship Book came out in 1992, “What is This Place” was chosen to be the lead hymn in the collection. The first line describes the church building as “Only a house, the earth its floor, walls and a roof . . . , windows for light, an open door.” But when the people enter, “. . . it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here . . . .”
As the effects of COVID-19 grow, I am observing a variety of emotional reactions in myself and others. COVID-19 touches everyone’s life. If it isn’t personal illness or loss, we contend with separation, loneliness, deep uncertainty, inconvenient grocery shopping and accessing services that used to be readily available. Children are at home, incomes are at risk.
Bishop Luis Hernandez baptizes a member of a Brethren in Christ house church in El Cafetal, Cuba. (Photo by Jack Suderman)
Sixteen Anabaptist Christians from Canada and the United States came to Cuba from Jan. 12 to 16 to learn about the church there. I was one of them.
For most of us, the biblical canon with its 66 “books” has always been a given, inherited from the past, our parents and churches. We have not concerned ourselves very much with it, even though we may have heard that the Catholic version of the Bible has more “books” in it than the Protestant version.
Thursday, as I sat down to a board meeting for the Micah Mission, a restorative justice organization in Saskatoon, I got the news that the Juno Awards show was being cancelled in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. For months I’d been hearing the Junos hyped on CBC Radio 2 and seeing advertisements on billboards around town, where the shows were to be broadcast from.
I could not have predicted the responses I got when I asked 15 Mennonite Church Canada pastors—all women—how they would explain the meaning of the cross and resurrection to a 12-year-old.
Soren Kierkegaard once famously said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
A year ago I asked my oldest daughter, who was in the middle of a master of physiotherapy program at the University of Manitoba, to help me figure out what was wrong with my left foot. Her assessment was, “Dad, you are messed up. Make an appointment to see a physiotherapist.”