Growing up in a family with an Evangelical Mennonite bent meant that I early on learned about going to church. While we had prayers at meals, bedtime and on special occasions—like going on a trip or during sickness—we did not have a regular devotional life at home.
God is a living God who encounters us in our daily lives.” So said Arnold Snyder, professor of history at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., during a Reformation Sunday sermon last fall at Wilmot Mennonite Church, New Hamburg.
In addition to the usual Assembly 2011 activities, local organizers have planned a number of tours of Waterloo Region, including:
A 1797 Conestoga wagon, refitted with rubber tires, travels from Lancaster, Pa., to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., in 1952 to mark the centennial of Waterloo County. (File photo by David Hunsberger, Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
A cairn erected at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland in 1986 marks the bicentennial celebrations of the Mennonites’ arrival in Canada. (www.gameo.org photo)
The homestead of Daniel and Veronica (Schneider) Martin (married April 8, 1823) at Wagner's Corners (on the west side of Weber St.) in what is now the north end of Waterloo, Ont. (Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo)
It is 1786. The first Swiss Mennonites have just arrived in Ontario, having travelled from Pennsylvania in Conestoga wagons. They crossed the mighty Niagara River by taking the wheels off their wagons, sealing the wagon boxes to make boats, and then floating across. Cattle and horses swam.
Jeff Warkentin, Mennonite Church Canada worker in Burkina Faso, West Africa, has sent out a prayer appeal
1. When did your congregation first have a woman preach a sermon or first have a woman pastor? How open was the congregation to this change? Were there surprises in who resisted? How has the attitude toward women pastors changed since the 1970s?
Throughout her childhood and youth Martha Smith Good believed her conservative Swiss Markham-Waterloo Mennonite church north of Toronto was all about rules and regulations. “In my spirit/soul I knew there was something more, and I wanted to find that,” she says.
It was the simple yet profound welcome she received as a stranger in a Mennonite church that made all the difference to Erin Morash, who says she grew up in “an extraordinarily secular family.”
Recently ordained, Emily Toews—at 35—is the youngest female lead pastor in Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. She has served for four years at North Star Mennonite Church in Drake, and clearly enjoys her work.
As far as I know, I’m the only one. I’m the only home-grown Alberta woman who left the province, studied in Mennonite institutions, and is a pastor back here. Friends in other provinces wondered, “Why go back?” They knew Alberta’s redneck reputation. Happily, stereotypes are never the whole truth and sometimes they are lies.
Growing up in a very conservative Old Colony Mennonite home in the 1950s and ’60s, I soon learned that education was not encouraged. Church was meant only to attend. I was to keep anything I heard or learned to myself; the men would sort out what needed to be sorted out. My place was to marry, have children and submit unconditionally to my husband, to leadership and to authority.
Canadian Mennonite profiles the inspiring stories of women pastors from each of Mennonite Church Canada’s five area churches, beginning with Eve Isaak from British Columbia and working east to Martha Smith Good in Ontario.
Dr. Mark Ragins, a well-known American psychiatrist who has dedicated his life and practice to recreating, improving and sustaining mental health recovery programs, spoke to 200 people who attended the second annual lecture series of Eden Health Care Services in Winkler last fall.
Every one of us deals with mental health challenges. Whether we’re losing sleep about the math exam tomorrow or are hospitalized for schizophrenia, whether we’re on medication for depression or battling obsessive regrets over how we’ve raised our children—we each have been dealt a unique set of cards.
American Mennonite conscientious objectors (COs) working in mental hospitals during World War II decried the deplorable and inhumane treatment of patients. One symbolically powerful way they objected—and advocated for better treatment—was to unshackle the patients, collect the iron chains and cuffs, and melt them down into one enormous bell.
1. Do you remember comments about physical appearance from when you were young? What attitude did your parents and family have about physical appearance? How did they communicate that attitude? How many mirrors do you have in your house today?
I think you know a lot about Jesus’ body, so I invite you to close your eyes and picture some things.
1. What has your congregation done to help members dealing with personality disorders, addiction or family dysfunction? How effective has it been? How involved should the congregation or the pastor be in helping people cope with these types of issues?
My first experience with pornography was at a corner store when I was nine years old. On a dare, I picked up a Playboy magazine and found that those glossy pictures aroused feelings of excitement that I had never felt before. They also triggered feelings of shame.
Jane’s nightmares kept her from getting a good night’s sleep. “They are just terrifying,” she told her doctor. “I wake up almost every night. It’s like someone is suffocating me—like a body lying on top of me—I’m holding my breath—just shaking with fear!”
“I think we can help with that,” said Dr. Shenk. “Let’s try this new sleep medication to see if that helps.”
Every morning I look in the mirror and do not know who might be looking back at me. I wonder what the day will hold. Will it be a day of relative calm? Or will it be a day when my voice becomes higher-pitched, and my speech speeds up, gushing out of me in staccato fashion while my mind tries to keep up with the ideas that come rushing in?
During the course of an evening of socializing with mostly pastors and deacons at some denominational committee meetings, discussion turned to the roles and practices
A woman—a good family friend—pours perfume worth $25,000 on Jesus’ feet at a dinner party held at her house in his honour. She removes her head scarf, shakes her hair loose, bends over, and wipes Jesus’ perfumed feet with her hair. The fragrance fills the whole house. Surely that fragrance remains on Jesus’ feet—and in Mary’s hair—for days.
1. The Christmas season is a time of giving. How does your congregation and/or community get involved in giving during this season? What are we saying when we give gifts? Do you agree with Aiden Enns’s comment in the “Alternatives” article that, “when we give, we acknowledge our dependence on others”?
Christmas will be different this year for Winnipeg’s Kathy Okolita.
She stands in her newly renovated home surrounded by 18 people who have come to offer a house blessing. She can’t seem to say “thank you” enough as she offers fried chicken and potato salad to her guests.