Within Mennonite denominations, the closure of churches is also a reality that requires acknowledgement and careful planning, so that their legacy might be a blessing. (Photo: © istock.com/hal990)
In Alberta, Faith Mennonite Church and Vauxhall Mennonite Church closed their doors in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Both congregations gave some funds to Camp Valaqua, a ministry of Mennonite Church Alberta. The contributions enabled the construction of the Faith Retreat Centre, above, and the Vauxhall Cabin, increasing the usability and accessibility of the camp for all. (Camp Valaqua photo)
Camp Valaqua received funds from two Alberta churches when they closed their doors. (Camp Valaqua photo)
Every living thing eventually dies, including churches. Just as people who do not plan for death may complicate things for their families, churches that do not plan for eventual closure can leave a mess for congregants and their surrounding communities.
The political scientist Harold Lasswell once defined politics to be “who gets what, when and how.” If that is politics, peace studies in contrast can be seen as an attempt to answer the question “why” things are given to whom, when and how.
Opening of the MCC Ontario building in 1964. Pictured from left to right: MCC executive secretary William Snyder, Fred Nighswander, Henry H. Epp and Abner Cressman. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record file photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
When Kathy Hildebrand attended the 1969 annual MCC meeting, she commented to executive secretary William Snyder, ‘I didn’t come to shop at Marshall Field! I came to hear what MCC is doing.’ (Burton Buller photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
When the indomitable Orie O. Miller retired from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in 1958, there was a lot of speculation about who would fill his big shoes. In Miller’s mind, though, that question had been settled years earlier, when he chose, out of the rich Civilian Public Service (CPS) talent pool, the unpresumptuous William Thomas Snyder to be his associate.
Anneken Kendriks is burned in Amsterdam in 1571. (Etching by Jan Luyken, from Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Published by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.)
Catharine Mulerin is apprehended. (Etching by Jan Luyken, from Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Published by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.)
Children are among the most important things given to us in our lives. With this gift comes the responsibility of passing on our faith. This can be a daunting task in a cultural climate that isn’t always friendly to followers of Jesus.
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
The question came from Ed, a cheerful clerk at Save-On-Foods, as I was picking up some milk.
What kind of response was he seeking? Was he asking if I had I finished all my Christmas shopping? If so, the answer would be, yes, mostly, meager though my efforts are.
Wherever Jesus goes, we see God’s kingdom descending from heaven to earth. Wherever Jesus appears, God’s loving power takes hold. A hemorrhaging woman is healed of her infirmity; a rich man gives away half his wealth. In Jesus’ healing, teaching, dying and rising, God is rescuing the world; the mending of creation has begun. Yet paradise has not yet been restored.
Doug Klassen's horse Dolly is kindly and carefully cared for by her farrier Morgan Girletz, who spent a hour-and-a half making a delicate repair to her hoof. It inspired Doug to write this feature article. (Photo courtesy of Doug Klassen)
He was a welcome sight when his truck and trailer pulled into the yard. Even before the truck stopped moving, he jumped out the passenger side and started walking toward me.
“Doctor Klassen?” he said as he held a cigarette at the side of his mouth. He reached out his tattoo-laden arm and introduced himself: “Morgan Girletz. Good to meet ya. Let’s see yer horse!”
Lee Hiebert with Jacqueline Neun at the 70th-anniversary celebration of Kelowna First Mennonite Church earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Lee Hiebert)
Seventy-four-year-old George Ediger rushed out of church during the final song and caught up with the newcomer in the parking lot before the big young visitor with the shaved head and biker beard could escape in the maroon hot rod that stood out among the grey and beige sedans.
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).
These words of John from the Island of Patmos are as relevant for us today as they were to the seven churches in the province of Asia who were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing realities of living under the rule of Roman emperors.
‘I thought this type of support was normal’
Jeanette and Todd Hanson
By Donna Schulz, Saskatchewan Correspondent, Rosthern, Sask.
Although they have had other mission partnerships over the years, Jeanette Hanson marvels at the support she and her husband Todd have received from their two home congregations.
‘In the last couple of years, I’ve been embarrassed to tell people that I went to church or was a Christian.’—Aaron Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)
‘I have also been deeply hurt by experiences in the church and have sometimes wondered why I stay. But I have stayed because, in the end, unlike Aaron, I find that it does matter to me. This is my tribe, warts and all.’—Angelika Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)
A lot has been said and written about millennials: What’s wrong with them? What’s influenced them? What does their future hold?
In the opening half of Steven Ratzlaff’s play Reservations, first staged in Winnipeg in 2016, an Alberta Mennonite farmer informs his two children that he plans to give a section of land—most of what he owns—to the Siksika First Nation. The farmer has heart troubles and he’s already renting the land out.
When the water goes up behind the $8.7-billion Keeyask Dam in northern Manitoba, one family will lose more than any other. At a church-sponsored event in Winnipeg on March 18, 2017, they told their story.
Several years ago, my Russian Mennonite grandmother told me a story about her childhood that I think about often. When she was just a young girl living somewhere southeast of Winnipeg, her parents unexpectedly lost their farmland. With no land, no money and no prospects, they packed their few belongings onto the first train out of town.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
I always love this joyful affirmation of life and hope on Easter morning. When it is still grey and cold outside, when the world news is so overwhelmingly negative, when many are dealing with losses and heartache, it is so amazing to be able to say: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”