Embodying the love that Jesus Christ modelled and treating people the way we want to be treated are the best ways to face an increasingly pluralistic society.
At a corner of Ellice Avenue and Marilyn Street in Winnipeg, the neighbourhood association erected four sheets of plywood and painted them with chalkboard paint. The phrase, “Before I die I want to _________” invited passersby to fill in the blank with their own wishes. Many responses expressed deep desires for meaning and purpose.
They walked together through a valley of shadows for two years, yet Assembly 2014 is the first time Elizabeth Wall and Lorraine Reimer have met face to face.
“It only takes a scrap of time to turn to God.” April Yamasaki shared this anonymous piece of 14th-century wisdom in her “Cultivating spiritual disciplines” workshop at Assembly 14.
Sometimes it feels like a scrap of time is all people have, but that can be turned into a sacred pause, she told a roomful of participants.
What are the needs of women, and how are they working to meet those needs?
Rhoda Keener, co-director of Mennonite Women U.S.A., led a presentation and discussion surrounding these needs at the assembly.
Keener explained that Sister Care seminars, which are given all over the world, are made up of four units:
The Cree word “kiciwamanawak” means “we are all cousins.” In Canada, however, this familial relationship between settler and host is fractured.
After seminar leader Chris Lenshyn began his post-Christian landscape session by reading chapter 1 of Daniel, he invited participants—48 adults and one baby—to gather in twos to converse about this story of young exiles living out their faith in a foreign land.
Unique timing and collaboration led to one of Manitoba Church Manitoba Camps with Meaning sites hosting two days of the children’s assembly—a first in Assembly gathering history. And they did so in the midst of flood conditions.
Probably the two most divisive issues in the church at the moment are women’s status and rights in the church, and the moral legitimacy of same-sex covenant relationships. The parallel passages of Matthew 19:3-22 and Mark 10:2-12 have implications for both of these questions.
During the 2013-14 academic year, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) was engaged in intense conversations on and off campus regarding its hiring policy concerning individuals in covenanted same-sex relationships. Research professor Lisa Schirch sent the following letter to the university’s student newspaper, The Weather Vane, representing some of that conversation.
1. Does your church give equal status and rights to women and men? How did earlier generations explain their assumption that powerful roles were reserved for men? How much does our culture affect our attitudes when it comes to what is right or wrong in the church?
I came across an editorial by Dick Benner a few months ago and was distressed to read about the late—and highly regarded—John Howard Yoder having sexually violated 80 women “at last count” (“Healing sexual abuse,” Sept. 2, 2013, page 2). This was news to me, as I am relatively new to the Mennonite circle.
“I really do not want more community than we already have at this church,” shared a congregant during a Sunday morning adult Sunday school discussion. “What I like about this church is that no one judges you for not being more involved or attending regularly. If we had more community, people would expect too much from me.”
1. What are some examples of things you do to support others in your family, congregation, team or club? In what situations have you received support from others? In what groups do you feel a strong sense of belonging? Have Mennonite congregations tended to take the importance of community for granted?
‘End-of-life decisions will be more complicated as time goes on. It will be necessary for the church community to be aware of the complexity of cases and to seek to find appropriate Christians responses to them.’ (Marianne Mellinger)
David Schroeder, professor emeritus of New Testament and philosophy at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, says that we fail to recognize that death is always with us and every day we are making life-and death-choices.
When Susan Griffiths of Winnipeg went to Switzerland a year ago to die by doctor-assisted suicide, it was headline news and re-ignited the debate around end-of-life issues. Responses to her death revealed that we are living in a time of shifting public sentiment when it comes to end-of-life issues, especially concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide.
1. Have you participated in any end-of-life decisions? Under what conditions would you consider withholding possible treatment for yourself or a family member? How would you respond to a loved one’s request for assisted suicide? Why are we so reluctant to talk about death?
One could attribute the current crisis in Ukraine to the lack of sympathy for democratic practice. Repeated fisticuffs in Ukraine’s Parliament were one indication of that deficit.
The following announcement was released by Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, and Aleksey Smirnov, president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, after they met on April 8:
1. William Yoder suggests that democracy requires compromise and a sharing of power. Have you had experiences in public, church or family life where compromising or sharing power was difficult? Why is power so hard to share? What role do emotions play in these situations?
Do empty churches indicate a lack of faith, or do they need to adapt to different ways of nurturing faith in people both inside and outside their walls? (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
Churches across Canada--including this one in downtown Montreal--are closing for lack of congregants, to be replaced by gyms, spas, restaurants and upscale condos. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
Darian and Jacob Wiebe-Neufeld, centre, enjoy a game of Sorry! with a couple of regulars at the St. James Drop-in Centre in Montréal. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
Two staff and a St. James Drop-in Centre member jam in the art room. The artistic and musical talents that were in evidence among the members were amazing. After meeting the people, the idea that anyone from any walk of life can become homeless really sank in. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
Maison de l’Amitié doesn’t look like much from the outside, but its tiny garden and park benches provide a good place for community members to talk. A Swiss couple who stayed in the student residence for a few nights told director Dora Marie Goulet, “It’s a one star facility, but gets five stars in its connections!” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
A cross has stood on the top of Mount Royal in Montréal since 1643 as a lasting reminder of God’s grace when a flood was averted. The cross standing there today is brilliantly lit every night and can be seen for miles. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
The skyline is liberally punctuated with steeples, but they loom like tombstones over the churches of Montréal. The beautiful buildings are mostly dead on Sundays, and I wonder where the church has gone.
The first Skype conversation I ever had was with someone in Germany about a guy from Montréal who wanted to be baptized in Edmonton. This extraordinary testament to a globalized world was also my introduction to Alain Spitzer.
As in many environments today, “peace” was a conventional salutation in the ancient world. In the Gospel of Luke, when the risen Jesus appears among the disciples in Jerusalem, he extends to them a greeting of peace.
1. When you meet friends or family, what form of greeting do you use? Have you ever met anyone who used “peace” as a greeting? Does your congregation use “passing the peace” or some type of peace greeting in worship? What is the meaning of this greeting of peace?
Just before Jack McKay* was let out of prison, a local paper ran an article that portrayed him as an unhinged, unreformed sexual predator. The message was blunt: Beware, be afraid.
1. What experiences have you had with prison visitation or helping someone with a painful past become settled in Canadian society? What level of acceptance would someone like Jack McKay, the pseudonymous former inmate in this story, find in your community? What social services would there be to help him? What would happen in your congregation if a former sexual offender began attending?