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Recommended reads

(Photo by Aaron Epp)

(Photo by Aaron Epp)

“Rainy days,” Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson once wrote, “should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

As part of Canadian Mennonite’s biannual Focus on Books & Resources section, the magazine spoke with 14 people about the novels, poetry collections and non-fiction works that have impacted them. 

Avoiding an environmental shipwreck

It’s as if we are on a ship heading straight for the rocks in spite of warning buoys, lighthouses or even the jagged shoreline looming ahead. Individual efforts seem insignificant, a choice between rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and trying to turn the ship with our bare hands. (Photo by Wollox / Creative Commons Licence (bit.ly/3rLhdz4))

The shipwreck of the SS American Star on the shore of Fuerte-ventura, one of the Canary Islands. (Photo: By Wollox / Creative Commons Licence (bit.ly/3rLhdz4))

When considering how to act against the damage of climate change, too often the focus has been only on the economic reality (i.e. Can a profit be made?), while ignoring the effects on environmental and social systems. But true sustainability only occurs at the place where all three spheres overlap. (Graphic by Betty Avery)

Every time you walk into the church building, that threadbare carpet stares up at you. Everyone agrees it’s time for a change, but how do you replace a worn-out carpet without destroying the planet?

The power of their faith

(Photo by YWAM Orlando on Flickr)

(Photo by Godsgirl_madi from Pixabay)

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: 

A hymn by any other number

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)

Some urged the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee that produced the new Voices Together hymnal to correct the 1992 treatment by assigning the song its ‘rightful place’ between 605 and 607. (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.

Stones of remembrance

Photo of Genesis (Photos by Danielle Raimbault)

“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).

Colombian Mennonites report violence, call for solidarity

Candles mark the hope many Colombians had when a Peace Accord was signed in 2016. (Presidencia El Salvador Photo / Creative Commons)

Mennonites in Colombia accompany people suffering violence and displacement in rural areas. (Photo by Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero / Creative Commons)

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. 

A rich and diverse version of God

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)

Donna Bender, left, and Omo Amayanvbo are pictured in a buffet line at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Felipe Gonzalia)

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.”

Resting in the shadow of hope

‘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 Ashley Skaar, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, Rosthern, Sask.

‘Untitled,’ by Emma Martin, a Grade 7 student at Centennial Public School, Waterloo, Ont., who attends Elmira (Ont.) Mennonite Church.

‘Untitled,’ by Jesse Haines, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, Rosthern, Sask.

Recently, I read a book that unsettled my sense of hope. 

On babies and politics

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. 

New hymnal will be ‘part of the fabric of our lives’

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)

The new hymnal is the successor to 1992’s Hymnal: A Worship Book and its two supplements, Sing the Journey and Sing the Story.

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.

Faith forged in disorientation

(Photo © istock.com / lolloj)

‘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)

‘Ezra Reads the Law to the People (Doré’s English Bible),’ by Gustave Doré, 1866. (Wikimedia commons (public domain))

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.

Expanding the reconciliation tent

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)

Tommy Prince, right, is pictured with a brother at Buckingham Palace, London, England, where he was awarded two gallantry medals. (Library and Archives Canada photo (public domain))

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.

Copyright matters

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)

Bryan Moyer Suderman is a Mennonite singer/songwriter. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

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.

Selling generosity

(Mennopix Digital Art by Ross W. Muir)

‘Jesus, can you spare a dime?’ (Mennopix Digital Art by Ross W. Muir)

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.

Hooked on volunteering

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)

Volunteers Sheila Harder, left, Eileen Flath and Hariette Melin sort through fresh produce at Rosthern’s Good Neighbours Food Centre in May 2018. (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.

In a perfect storm

‘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)

‘Job Rebuked by his Friends.' 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.

The twilight of Mennonite radio

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)

Dorothea Kampen hosted Frohe Botschaft from 2001 to 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dorothea Kampen)

Elmer Hildebrand, CEO of Golden West Broadcasting, was influential in Mennonite involvement in Manitoba radio. (Photo courtesy of Golden West Broadcasting)

Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, is starting a new podcast with two pastors from across Canada. (Photo courtesy of Moses Falco)

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. 

A beautiful tapestry of yellow

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)

In 2013, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada celebrated its 25th anniversary, taking for the celebration this theme of seeds and the parable of the sower. My congregation received a lovely commemorative “In every seed, a promise” banner.

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. 

Open to us a door

‘. . . 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)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(Photo by Jane Grunau)

(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 . . . .” 

Anxiety

People coping with fear and anxiety swing back and forth between responses as the situation, and perceptions of it, change. We panic. We grasp for assurances and control. We deny. We try to understand. (photo © istock.com/wildpixel)

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.

Encounters with the church in Cuba

Bishop Luis Hernandez baptizes a member of a Brethren in Christ house church in El Cafetal, Cuba. (Photo by Jack Suderman)

Irene Suderman, centre with the blue scarf, a co-leader of the learning tour with her husband Jack, is pictured with tour members at a Brethren in Christ house church in 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.

Well rooted, well winged

I have the growing conviction that the canon provides us not only roots, but also wings. Not only is it important to be ‘well-rooted’; it is equally important to be ‘well-winged.’ (Photo: © istock.com/ananaline)

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. 

Love in the time of COVID-19

3d Rendering of the Corona Virus In Red Background - Microbiology And Virology Concept (Photo taken from istock.com/RomoloTavani)

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.

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