Feature

MCC centrality questioned

The MCC revisioning process seeks to address the tension of being rich Christians in an age of global inequality—an age in which golf tournaments in Manitoba (as shown by the cover of MCC Manitoba’s annual report, left) fund hurricane recovery efforts in Haiti. (MCC file photo by Ben Depp, right)

At a time when relief supplies can be purchased in countries close to disaster sites—providing stimulus to their often hard-hit local economies—does it make economic or environmental sense to continue making blankets and relief kits of all kinds in North America and then ship them around the world?

Will Braun

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is the largest and most influential Anabaptist organization in the world. It has nearly 1,200 workers and an annual budget of $82 million.

For discussion

1. How many trees are planted annually in your community? Are they part of a community initiative? Who plants and waters them? How important is it to plant more trees?

2. In what situations would you cut down a tree in your yard? What are the advantages and disadvantages to having lots of trees in your neighbourhood? When might a tree be legitimately “in the way”?

Peeking under the bonnet

A few years ago, when conducting research for my Ph.D. on Amish women in business, I visited a gift shop and noticed a rack of romance novels with pictures of Amish women on the cover. I asked the Amish business owner, “Do you sell a lot of these?”

“Yes,” she said. “The tourists like them.”

“Do Amish buy them?” I enquired.

“Well,” she said, “a lot of people read them.”

Should there be a test for citizens of God’s kingdom?

If I want to become a citizen of the U.S., I need to take a citizenship test. Something similar occurs in Canada when someone wants to become a citizen of this country. The Canadian citizenship test evaluates an applicant’s knowledge of Canada, and includes questions about the government, elections, rights and responsibilities of citizens, and Canadian history and geography.

The gospel according to Google

After more than a decade of living without a computer—he hauled his old one to the dump—Ralph Lebold of Waterloo North Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., is back online. He now calls himself a ‘converted Luddite.’ (Photo by Dick Benner)

Just over 50 percent of Mennonite Church Canada congregations have their own websites. Next year that number will be higher.

For discussion

1. How concerned would you be if you had Muslim neighbours? How fearful are most North Americans of Muslims? Is this fear justified? What would you say to those who oppose the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City? Do you think Muslim refugees are less welcome in Canada than other refugees?

Interfaith bridgebuilding

Ray and Susan Martin of East Zorra Mennonite Church, Tavistock, Ont., visit with Fauzia Mazhar and her daughter Mehar Nayyar at the Floradale potluck.

Grade 12 Rockway Mennonite students Zainab Ramahi, left, and Leanna Wigboldus lead a school chapel this spring.

Documentary filmmaker Burton Buller, back row centre in white shirt, joins the multiracial/multi-faith potluck line at Floradale Mennonite Church.

Muslim and Mennonite women clean up after the potluck meal at Floradale Mennonite Church, Ont.

Mohammed, a Palestinian refugee, and Luke Keller of Erb St. Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., share a smile at Floradale Mennonite Church, Ont.

Burton Buller came to Ontario’s Waterloo Region this spring to explore the many Mennonite-Muslim activities taking place in the community for a new documentary exploring peace traditions in both the Christian and Muslim faiths.

For discussion

1. How homogeneous is your congregation? How long does it take for “outsiders” to feel welcome? What extra challenges does someone from a visible minority have to feel accepted? What should Mennonite congregations do so that people from other cultures can feel welcomed and included?

Who are our multicultural Mennonites?

The “What makes a Mennonite” brochure has been translated into Spanish, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Chin, while other language translations, such as Hmong and Laotian, are planned. These resources are available from the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre, Winnipeg

Once upon a time, Mennonite congregations in Canada could largely define themselves by German or Swiss Mennonite heritage, but no more.

Becoming a multicultural church

Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C., is an intentional multicultural congregation. Pictured from left to right: John Cheny, Shigali Dembede, Alayne Cheny holding Naomi Cheny, pastor April Yamasaki, Janice Redekop holding Callahan Redekop, and Masako Moriyama.

In 1981, the newly formed Emmanuel Mennonite Church drew on Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19 to express its purpose as a congregation: “To make disciples of all nations.” At the time, the intention was simply to begin an English-speaking church, but, in the years since, it seems to me that those words have proven to be more prophetic than anyone might have realized at the time.

How complicit are Mennonites in Residential School Abuse?

Leann Sleigh, painfully sharing how three generations of residential school forced family separation, sexual and physical abuse leading to alcoholism and parental abuse, offers her moccasins to a collection of native artifacts “for those who walked before us.” A read cedar box holding artifacts and documents was commissioned by the TRC as a “lasting tribute” to school survivors. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

In the Learning Tent at The Forks, Jamie Monkman was one of the many poring over photo albums of class pictures from many of the Indian Residential Schools. “I am looking for pictures of my mom and granny, who went to the Norway House school,” she explained. The Learning Tent outlined the history of the Indian Residential Schools with phot displays and historical accounts. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners begin their five-year sojourn across Canada to hear the stories of those who suffered under the Indian Residential School (IRS) system, Mennonites may well ask if or how they should be involved in this process.

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