A woman runs past graffiti on the wall that divides Bethlehem from Israel. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College)
Munther Isaac recently published a book that confronts a longstanding problem in Christian attitudes toward the Holy Land—ignorance, indifference and even hostility to the Palestinian church. Isaac is an Oxford-educated, Palestinian Lutheran pastor who serves as academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College.
This artwork was submitted to the Canadian Mennonite call for student art by Aishel Nag of Bethesda Mennonite Church, Champa, Chhattisgarh, India.
Rahab acts by faith
Joshua 2:1-21; 6:22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:29-31; James 2:23-26.
At an Anglican church I know, the congregational response after the reading of Scripture is: “Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.” This response captures the dynamic nature of Scripture that respects the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of the many authors in the biblical canon.
A quiet, years-long journey. A voice speaking in a mosh pit full of teenagers. A love for the church. An unexpected second career. These are just some of the ways that Mennonite Church Canada pastors from across the country entered into pastoral ministry. Pastors shared with Canadian Mennonite their stories of pastoral calling and what keeps them in ministry.
In the chapel at Casa Iskali retreat centre in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, Ill., 45 people gathered from Aug. 26 to 28 for a working conference to launch the Anabaptist Bible project. (Jace Longenecker photo for MennoMedia)
Anabaptism began in 1525 in Switzerland, when bold young Christians challenged authorities with the radical idea that Scripture spoke clearly to ordinary people who studied the Bible together.
Nearly five centuries later, plans are taking shape for a special Bible to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Anabaptism and breathe new life into grassroots Bible study.
CMC-MPS steering committee members meet at St. Charles Retreat Centre, Nov. 1996. The group helped shape the future directions for a churchwide publication. Front, left to right: Waldo Neufeld, Ruth Braun, Sam Steiner, Ron Rempel. Back: Marg Neufeld, Lawrence Burkholder, Jack Suderman, Ted Regehr. Missing: Otto Driedger. (Photo by Aiden Enns)
In the summer of 2003, as I pondered how to say farewell to a 24-year career as editor of Canadian Mennonite and its predecessor, Mennonite Reporter, a friend suggested I reflect back on some defining moments.
He might be the youth leader, enthusiastically singing the loudest, or the young mother protectively watching over her children as they run among the pews, or the strong-willed divorcée who is the staunch activist for women’s justice, or the angry old man suffering from cancer while his wife sits quietly beside him. What they share is they are all survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Members of MC Canada’s Joint Council, musicians and worship leader Tany Warkentin lead the gathering in words and actions of the ‘We declare’ affirmation. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
At the opening service of We Declare 2022, keynote speaker John Boopalan inspires, with a touch of humour, reminding listeners that they follow and proclaim an embodied God. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
Doug Klassen tells the story of ‘Safari,’ a Mennonite pastor and church planter, who lives in a large refugee camp in Malawi but refuses to leave because of his calling to serve the people there. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
Ontario pastor Kara Carter challenges the notion that, if congregations just work hard enough, people from the community will see the value of their message and join the church. ‘This, friends, is a stumbling block for the missional church.’ (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
MC Canada moderator Calvin Quan chairs Saturday’s delegate session. Quan, who attends Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church, completed six years in this role. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
Fanosie Legesse, part of Mennonite Church Canada’s Intercultural Church Steering Committee, leads a workshop entitled ‘When evangelism meets interculturalism.’ (Photo by Jessica Evans)
Through story and song, Cheryl Bear shares childhood memories of life on Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and the Indigenous connection to the land. Bear also spoke at the Saturday morning worship service. (Photo by Jessica Evans)
Members of Gathering 2022 receive a warm welcome from Edmonton’s South Sudanese Mennonite Church during an organized tour. (Photo by Jessica Evans)
Young Leaders Experience participants invited all young adults (under 30ish) to a campfire at First Mennonite Church on the evening of July 31. (Photo by Jessica Evans)
Mariko Ogasawara, a participant from Baden, Ont., is excited to bring Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) school kit bags home to fill with her two grandchildren. The bags were crafted by women from First Mennonite Church in Edmonton and included a list of contents to fill and return to an MCC office or depot. (Photo by Jessica Evans)
For the first time since 2019, members from across the five regions of Mennonite Church Canada gathered in person for learning, inspiration and decision-making. Meeting at a conference centre in Edmonton, from July 29 to Aug.1, approximately 215 people experienced the joy of being together again in a large gathering.
Mennonite World Conference assembly participants attend the final worship service July 10 at the 12,000-seat sanctuary of JKI Injil Kerajaan, a Mennonite church known as the “Holy Stadium,” in Semarang, Indonesia. (Meetinghouse photo by Kresna Kurniawan)
A music ensemble with members from nine countries led conference goers in songs from the MWC International Songbook, singing in a variety of languages used in worship by Anabaptists around the world. (Meetinghouse photo by Kresna Kurniawan)
With its national motto of “unity in diversity,” Indonesia proved a fitting host for the 17th assembly of Mennonite World Conference (MWC)—downsized by COVID-19 restrictions but full of joy, beauty and fellowship.
Although Mt. Baker is located in Washington state, traditional Salishan territory, its presence is part of Abbotsford, B.C.’s skyline. Abbotsford is home to the Matsqui First Nation, affiliated with the Stó:lo Nation. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)
A sign at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., was unveiled in September 2017 acknowledging the traditional land of the local Indigenous Peoples. It mentions the arrival of the first Europeans in the 1800s and expresses the intention of Mennonites today to “work on building a new covenant relationship with our Indigenous hosts, neighbours, and friends.” (Photo by Barb Draper)
In recent years, whether attending church meetings or public or community gatherings, Canadians may have heard opening words similar to these: “We gratefully acknowledge that we are meeting today on the traditional, ancestral territory of [local Indigenous group].”
Sadly, it is too late for either a nonviolent approach or a more violent approach with a no-fly zone to quickly restore Ukrainian rights. It is impossible for any approach to take away damage to a house after it has been burning for some time. (Pixabay photo by dangrafart)
As Christians rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, we care deeply about every human being on Earth. We no doubt have felt solidarity with Ukrainians as they struggle against violence and injustice from military invasion. Engaging in constant prayer and giving abundant contributions of spiritual and material aid to victims are very important.
Kirsten Hamm-Epp and her eldest son, Peter, have fun in the garden. The family has plans to plant more squash this year. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)
Lately I’ve had a lot of trouble concentrating. This past week I have spent far too many hours staring at my computer screen without much progress being made. When this happens, I find myself staring at my to-do list, expecting things to take care of themselves, and being surprised when, at the end of the day, I can’t cross anything off that list.
The quietness and rest that people with mental-health problems need is something we all need. For us to live according to the pace and drive of contemporary western culture is for us to burn through our neural circuitry in ways that lead to disruptive and disorderly crises. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
What is a human life worth? What makes my own life worthwhile? Is my time valuable only when my efforts add up to some measurable achievement I can document on my résumé or in my exercise log or my family’s “brag book”? And if that’s the case, what value is there to a less productive life?
At a recent annual gathering, Colombian Mennonites pray for outgoing denominational president Yalile Caballero, who was an influential advocate for peace and justice. Jeanette Hanson, MC Canada’s director of International Witness, says of the Colombian Mennonites that they do ‘amazing peace and justice work because they love Jesus.’ Reports produced by Justapaz, the peace and justice arm of the Colombian Mennonites, weave an overt spiritual intimacy into documentation of human-rights violations. (Photo by Jeanette Hanson)
Some Mennonites raise their hands when they sing. Others don’t.
Some attend climate rallies and examine decolonization. Others don’t.
Some Mennonites hear sermons focused on the Word and personal relationship with Jesus. Others hear sermons that draw on Pete Enns; Mary Oliver, a modern day mystic; or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As Mennonite Church Alberta prepares to host the MC Canada national gathering from July 29 to Aug. 1, it is fascinating to consider how a small regional church body affects the flow of city life in Edmonton, its development and the surprises and challenges that emerge. (Photo by Len Franz)
The face of Mennonite Church Alberta in Edmonton is like the river that flows through it, dynamic and always changing. Congregations have come and gone, such as Faith Mennonite (1980-1996) and the Vietnamese Mennonite Church (1995-2017). In the last 10 years, three of the five churches in the city have become predominantly African. (Photo by Len Franz)
South Sudanese Mennonite Church women lead worship in the Gambela region in Ethiopia in January. (File photo by William Tut)
You are easily forgiven for not knowing that Edmonton is a beach city. In spite of its northern location and prairie landscape, sandcastles and sunbathers began appearing along a bank of the North Saskatchewan river in 2017.
It is like the caterpillar, changing into a butterfly over time. In the cocoon, the caterpillar trusts the deep transformation that is happening without knowing what the end might possibly look like. (Photo used with permission by Merri-Lee Metzger)
Mary Magdalene couldn’t have known the end of the story—how things would turn out. How could she?
In a piece titled “Migrant Journey,” artist Rafael Barahona explores a universal story that includes many perils but also a sense of hope. The art was inspired by Jeremiah 29:11 and Hebrews 11:1 and appears in the hymnal collection Voices Together, published by MennoMedia. (Artwork used with permission of Rafael Barahona)
For the digitally created image titled “Communion,” Canadian artist Dona Park depicted soup and rice, expanding the idea of communion beyond bread and wine to show it as an international feast. (Artwork used with permission of the artist)
Artist SaeJin Lee worked with watercolour paint and coloured pencils to create “Tree of Life.” Inspired by this biblical image of restoration, she writes, “So come, friends, rest, play, and belong.” (Artwork used with permission of the artist)
One of the striking things about Voices Together, the new Mennonite song collection, is that it includes 12 pieces of visual art.
Following provincial protocols for meetings during the pandemic, members of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver gather for an outdoor service, in the summer of 2020. (Photo by Garry Janzen)
In the spring 2020, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan launched an online Sunday school for children. (Photo by Josh Wallace)
Justin Sun has never known pastoring other than during a pandemic. A year-and-a-half into his first pastorate, he says, “It’s been rough. How do I even do this job? I didn’t even attend a real in-person service until June.” That was nine months after he started in is job as a youth pastor in Richmond, B.C.
Although some Mennonite churches in Canada have wrestled with whether to accept LGBTQ+ people in their congregations, the conversation around queer issues is rapidly expanding in the public sphere.
My family does cancer in a big way. In my immediate family of five members, there have been 10 occasions when a doctor told one of us that we have cancer, or that, despite the treatments, the cancer has returned. My wife Esther has had two rounds of breast cancer. Our son Tim, who was born with significant physical and mental disabilities, was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was three.
Annie Janzen and Mira Hoover enjoy rosehip tea at Janzen’s apartment last fall. (Photo courtesy of Tanya Hoover)
Annie Janzen lowers a prize parsnip to socially distanced friends at Bethel Place. (Photo courtesy of Tanya Hoover)
Annie Janzen earned no degrees and was never elected chair of a church council. She did not start a church, write a best-seller or perform for large audiences.
She did cook at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg for 27 years, travel the globe and make an unlikely diversity of friends. She lived a good, simple life. It was also a decidedly unconventional life.
Did you know, there are over 650 occurrences of the word “power” in the Bible? Dunamis, a Greek word for power, occurs 120 times in the New Testament and means “strength” or “ability.” It is used to describe, for example, the power of God (Matthew 22:29), the power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), and the power of evil spirits (I Corinthians 15:24).
A sketch of the meetinghouse used by the Moyer Mennonite congregation, in Vineland, Ont., before 1897. The church was later renamed The First Mennonite Church. (Photo: L.J.Burkholder collection, Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
The cemetery beside the meetinghouse of The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ontario. (Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
What do we do when we disagree with people in our church? There are lots of reasons to disagree. We can disagree about how we talk about salvation, about who we should include or not include, about political views, or even about vaccination. Across North America, we see issues dividing congregations and conferences.