In the current of wavering defiance

(Flickr photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture)

(CM file photo by Elaine Binnema)

(Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

I want to know how to pray. It’s December 2021. Advent. A season of waiting. Everything is waiting. Waiting for the pandemic to be over. Waiting for our leaders to start acting like we’re in a climate emergency. Waiting for our hemisphere to tilt back into the light. We are hunkered down for our second COVID Christmas, separated from what we need most: each other.

Commerce, church and belonging

Milo Shantz pictured with a turkey in the late 1950s. Shantz and his brother Ross started a highly successful turkey business. (Photo courtesy of Marcus Shantz)

Diorama of a barn-raising at the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway, a tourist attraction in St. Jacobs. (Photo by Dean Holtz)

Milo Shantz, left, and his son Marcus, pictured in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Marcus Shantz)

Zacchaeus being called down from the sycamore tree by Jesus. (istock photo by benoitb)

I was delivering a sermon on the story of Zacchaeus last October when I realized that when I talked about Zacchaeus, I was actually thinking about, and picturing, my father.

Though not short in stature, my father, like Zacchaeus, was a man whose occupation was often controversial in his community. My father, Milo Shantz, who died in 2009, was a businessman.

Dispatches from the front lines

Ross W. Muir, with camera bag in tow, among a Grade 1 class at the Unyama IDP Camp in northern Uganda, 2004. (Photo by Michael Oruni)

Students look out from holes in the bamboo walls of their school at the Unyama Internally Displaced Persons Camp in northern Uganda, in 2004. (Photo by Ross W. Muir)

Members of the Meetinghouse editors and publishers group pose for a photo at Morrow Gospel Church, Winnipeg, during their 2009 meeting. Pictured from left to right, back row: Wally Kroeker, MEDA Marketplace; Ross W. Muir, Canadian Mennonite; Dora Dueck, MB Herald interim; and Terry Smith, The Messenger; and front row: Paul Schrag, Mennonite Weekly Review, at the time; Gordon Houser, The Mennonite; Rebecca Roman, The Messenger; Lil Goertzen, The Recorder; and Karla Braun, MB Herald, at the time. (Meetinghouse photo)

On his second birthday, Ross points to a typo in the local newspaper, and his future career path is set in stone. (Photo by Eunice Muir)

I’m basing the form of this final missive on the last book I read, Dispatches—a harrowing and sometimes hilarious memoir by Michael Herr, who covered the insanity of the Vietnam War for Esquire magazine during two years in the late 1960s. (How insane is it that Esquire thought it needed a war correspondent in the first place?)

An assumption of grace

A painting of Christopher Columbus planting his flag in the “New World,” by American artist Louis Prang. (L. Prang & Co., Boston, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Dave Scott poses with Brandon Burley, mayor of Morden, Man., left, and Cameron Friesen, MLA for Morden-Winkler, at a public event in Morden last summer. (Photo by Robyn Wiebe, courtesy of PembinaValleyOnline.com.)

Harry Lafond addresses the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon in 2016. (CM file photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Les Dysart on Southern Indian Lake in northern Manitoba. (Photo by Will Braun)

After the Vatican’s recent repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, I spent two hours speaking with three Indigenous people about the 500-year-old church doctrine that is as much the bedrock of Canada as the Canadian Shield.

Crossing guard of hope

Michel Monette and Lyne Renaud. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Michel Monette, right, and Lyne Renaud, left having supper at a crack house. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Sunday morning at Hochma church, a non-traditional church plant in Montreal. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Lyne Renaud and Michel Monette share their vision for a church in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area of Montreal at the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. (CM file photo)

When I was first called to church planting work in 2004, I prayed and sought God’s will. I also read Ray Bakke’s book, Hope for the City. It invited me back to the city. The book extols God’s love for the city and invites Christians to abandon the suburbs and come back to the city.

The piano ban

Evangelist George R. Brunk II with his wife Margaret, and their kids, left to right, George, Conrad, Paul, Barbara and Gerald, at a 1952 revival meeting in Waterloo, Ont. (Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo by David L. Hunsberger)

Influential Mennonite evangelist George R. Brunk I. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church U.S.A. Archives-Goshen, Ind.)

Carol Ann Weaver, left, Dorothy Jean Weaver and Kathleen Weaver Kurtz at the Chester K. Lehman family piano in 1952 in Harrisonburg, Va. (Photo courtesy of Carol Ann Weaver)

Chester K. Lehman and his sister, Elizabeth Kurtz, playing piano in 1952 at Kurtz’s house in Harrisonburg, Va. ( Photo courtesy of Carol Ann Weaver)

Carol Ann Weaver at the Chester K. Lehman family piano, which was donated to EMU, Harrisonburg, Va. (Photo by Wayne Kurtz)

October 22 was a normal Sunday. I had just arrived at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., when Conrad Brunk approached me. He is a fellow Rockway member, a former colleague at Conrad Grebel University College and a former next-door neighbour in Harrisonburg, Va. when we were very young. He wanted to talk about “the piano issue.”

Film review: sorrow, joy, anger and faith

Actors Rooney Mara (left), Claire Foy, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod and Jessie Buckley on the set of Women Talking. (Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

Ben Whishaw (left) stars as August, Rooney Mara are Ona and Claire Foy as Salome in Women Talking. (Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

Actors Emily Mitchell, Claire Foy and Rooney Mara. (Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

What do we do when we are wronged: Nothing? Stay and fight? Or do we leave?

These questions form the backbone of Women Talking, a 2022 film directed by Sarah Polley and adapted from Miriam Toews’s acclaimed novel of the same name.

What about the women of Manitoba Colony?

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky (in the yellow shirt) pictured in Manitoba Colony in 2013. She is pictured with the family that hosted her and her now-husband Sebastian Malter who joined her for her first couple days in the colony. (Photo courtesy of Jean Friedman-Rudovsky)

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky (Photo courtesy of Jean Friedman-Rudovsky)

After opening in select movie theatres before Christmas, Women Talking received a wide release last month. For Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, it marked 10 years since she interviewed some of the women who inspired Miram Toews’s novel the film is based on.

Barns and kerchiefs

The set of Women Talking at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. (Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

Director Sarah Polley on the set of her film Women Talking. (Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures

(Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

(Photo by Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

Not many farmers walk out of a movie theatre and say, “It’s a lot of fun seeing our farm on the big screen.” But that’s what Chris Burkholder thought after he watched Women Talking at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.


The church in Pingjum, Netherlands where Menno Simons stood up to Catholic authorities. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

Norm Dyck (centre) of MC Eastern Canada and Jeanette Hanson of MC Canada with an Indigenous coffee grower in the Philippines. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

Pastor Endezinaw Tefera next to the baptismal tank at the Asela Meserete Kristos Church in Asela, Ethiopia. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

An 1814 edition of Martyrs Mirror in the library of the Tokyo Anabaptist Centre. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

Safari Mutabesha is a Congolese refugee and pastor at a camp in Malawi, pictured at the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Indonesia. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

A room prepared for baptismal class at the Asela church in Ethiopia. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

The church in Pingjum, Netherlands where Menno Simons stood up to Catholic authorities. (Photo by Doug Klassen)

I stand on the very spot where it all began, in a former Catholic church in the village of Pingjum, Netherlands. Here, the priest Menno Simons was called to account by his superiors.

Guardians of the past

Victor Wiebe and Lorene Nickel with a “Deed of Gift” form. (Photo by Emily Summach)

This vinyl record is one of the more unique items in the MHSS collection. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Books in the collection of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan archives. (Photo by Emily Summach)

(Photo by Emily Summach)

Through an easily overlooked side door and down two flights of stairs at Bethany Manor Senior Living Complex in Saskatoon one will find the archival rooms of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS).

Challenging Holy Land stereotypes

An Israeli soldier and Palestinian girls in Bethlehem. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College)

A woman runs past graffiti on the wall that divides Bethlehem from Israel. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College)

Bethlehem on the right, the state of Israel on the left. (Photo by Michael Hostetler)

Artwork in a narrow alley of the Aida Camp in Bethlehem. (Photo by Byron and Melita Rempel-Burkholder)

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.

Women who prepared the way for Jesus

This artwork was submitted to the Canadian Mennonite call for student art by Aishel Nag of Bethesda Mennonite Church, Champa, Chhattisgarh, India.

From Expecting Emmanuel: Eight Women Who Prepared the Way. (Artwork by Michelle Burkholder)

“May the ‘Light that has Lighted the World’
fill your Christmas with cheer
and your New Year with blessings.”
(‘Canadian Nativity No. 1’ / Christmas card by Ross W. Muir)

Rahab acts by faith
Joshua 2:1-21; 6:22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:29-31; James 2:23-26.

Listening to the Spirit, with John

‘Saint John the Baptist Pointing to Christ,’ by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713). (Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain Artwork)

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.

Five pastoral callings

Martin So, pastor of Vancouver Peace Church.

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.

Planning a people’s Bible

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)

John D. Roth, project director of Anabaptism at 500, receives input on the Anabaptist Bible project from participants at a conference held from Aug. 26 to 28 in Des Plaines, Ill. (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.

A defining moment revisited

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)

The transition from a 12-page newspaper to a 32-page magazine happened in Sept. 1997.

Ron Rempel started at Mennonite Reporter in 1979.

Ron Rempel

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.

Faithful constancy

(rawpixel photo / © istockphoto.com)

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.

Gathering 2022

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)

Attendees participate in the opening worship service of We Declare: Gathering 2022. (Photo by Buth Bergen Braun)

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.

World assembly small but full of joy

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)

Indonesian volunteers carefully folded banana leaves to enclose the bread for a safe and environmentally friendly Lord’s Supper at Assembly 17. (MWC photo by Karla Braun)

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.

We gratefully acknowledge . . .

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)

(Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

(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].”


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