My great-grandparents emigrated from Ukraine to central Kansas in 1874 and eventually purchased a farm. Towards the end of October 1894, the harvest was done and the year’s crop of wheat and other grains, along with hay for animals, was stored upstairs.
Sometimes a Christmas experience stands out in memory simply because it is so different from any other.
When recalling a significant Christmas memory, Claire Ewert Fisher goes back some 30 years.
“I felt a very intense homesickness and wanted to go home [to Manitoba] for Christmas. Christmas is a very important holiday to me.”
It was Christmas 2010 and Hinke Loewen-Rudgers had been in Nazareth since October 2008, working through the Witness program of Mennonite Church Canada.
'We began reading it out loud to each other in 1981, and have done so every year since, finding more gems to think about each time.' (Photo by Aaron Epp)
Thirty years ago this Christmas, my wife Annemarie and I began a Christmas tradition we’ve continued year after year, with variations.
1. Why might the idea of learning from other faiths make us uncomfortable or fearful? What are the risks and benefits of honest dialogue with other faiths? What are the faith groups in your community with whom you could build relationships?
A group of Muslim men gather for prayer at a mosque in Israel/Palestine. Palmer Becker wonders if Mennonites, through their example and witness, might eventually help both male and female Muslim believers to pray and worship side by side.
An instructor at the Kitchener, Ont., LDS church explains the consequences of trying to follow both the way of the world and the way of the Lord to a group of high school students who meet each weekday morning for 45 minutes of ‘seminary’ instruction over the course of four years. Do Mennonites have church communities where we might convene our you
In our increasingly multicultural and multi-faith society, can we learn from belief systems other than our own? I believe so, and offer what I have learned from two faiths—Mormonism and Islam—that have very diverse beliefs from each other and also from my own Mennonite faith. This has called for risk-taking, relationship-building and honest self-reflection.
Delegates to the 2011 Mennonite Church Canada assembly responded to the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 3 process with more than 750 recorded comments being turned in from the 800 adults and youths who attended the event.
After more than two decades of being married, birthing and adopting children, and annually teaching two college sexuality courses, I have come to the not-terribly-startling conclusion that I’m rather fond of sex.
Andrew Suderman, right, preaches at Harvest Time Ministries, a church located in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, with Pastor Ntapo handling translation duties. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)
Throughout the Bible, God embodies--and challenges us to embody--a method that challenges the assumption that success, power and influence are gained by focusing on us. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)
One thing that I find so inspiring in South Africa is the countless people who participate in miraculous activities as they strive to make their communities better.
1. Professional hockey is known for fighting and violence. Should this deter Mennonites from being avid hockey fans? Is hard hitting and fighting an essential part of the game? Is violence okay if it’s allowed in the rules of the game? Is this what David Driedger means by structured violence?
It is nothing new to say that Winnipeg and southern Manitoba boasts an abnormally high concentration of Mennonites, although I suppose the Mennonites don’t boast. And given our historical and ongoing tension with how to respond to issues of peace and violence, it was also no surprise that more than a few eyebrows were raised at the unveiling of the Winnipeg Jets’ new logo.
Canadian hockey fans have a reason to celebrate. Fifteen years after the last NHL game was played in Winnipeg, Man., the league is coming back to the city. With other teams having financial difficulties and unstable ownership, fans across the country are seeing realistic chances that in the coming years even more teams will be coming north.
1. Ralph Lebold says that “the congregation is the central reality for gathered Christians.” Do you agree? What are some ways that people from your congregation engage meaningfully with each other? Why do we often resist being open about our questions, finances, mental and emotional struggles?
After 50 years in ministry I have discovered that there is a significant interplay between the divine and human when it comes to physical and emotional healing. All healing is a work of God’s grace, including medical, psychological and social interventions, whether the caregivers acknowledge it or not.
1. How are the songs and music chosen in your congregation? How much thought is given to the words when songs are chosen? Do you agree that we focus on the style of music more than the words we sing? What might help us focus on the words?
"Let me write the songs of a nation. I don’t care who writes its laws.”
This statement attributed to 17th-century Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher about countries also applies to the church. Christians have long recognized the power of music to shape what we believe about God and the life of faith.
César García, at the podium, greets the Sung-Chiang Mennonite congregation in Taipei, Taiwan, in May. To his right are outgoing MWC general secretary Larry Miller, and Joshua Chang, Sung-Chiang pastor and former MWC general council delegate. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder)
Pictured from left to right are MWC general secretary-elect César García, his daughters María and Paula, and wife Sandra Báez. (Photo by Tangie Sheets)
As one amateur Mennonite historian likes to point out, the only real Mennonite name is Menno Simons.
At the last worship service of Mennonite Church Canada Assembly on July 8, Nelson Kraybill reminded the congregation that some of the aboriginal people in southern Ontario moved here from the United States as politics became intolerable there. He then quipped that if Sarah Palin were to get elected another flood of people might be going north!
A fibre art depiction of the interaction between early Mennonite settlers and Aboriginal people in the Grand River valley was on display at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly July 4-8. “My vision was to create a pictorial slice of history,” said Judy Gascho-Jutzi, the artist.
“We are the church!” cheered Willard Metzger, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, inviting progressively younger age groups to join with him in an ever-louder cheer.
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, together with Tyndale House Publishers, have unleashed a behemoth industry on the world, Christian and otherwise. The original twelve volumes of the Left Behind Series have sold over 63 million copies in over a hundred languages.
1. Does your church have ways to connect personally with the individuals it helps? How important is this personal contact? Have you ever experienced awkward moments while providing help to someone? What aspect of the exchange was most awkward?
My parents packed me, my sister and a Christmas hamper into the car. We were headed to an address provided by the local Cheer Board. The plan was for us to all go in for a short visit. I imagine the Cheer Board encouraged this to humanize the helping. Predictably, our venture took us to the run-down side of our Mennonite prairie town.
1. Have you ever attended a worship service where you didn’t understand the language? What was your emotional response? For how many months or years would you be willing to worship in a setting that included a mixture of languages or simultaneous translation?