“You . . . were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people” (Ephesians 1:13-14, NRSV).
I was baptized on an Easter Sunday morning, in the midst of a beautiful service celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. By the first rays of morning light, we greeted each other with the familiar refrain, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” We sang the big, old Easter hymns.
Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist; whatever the name, it has been an integral part of the Christian faith since its beginnings. (Photo © istock.com/ipggutenbergukltd)
“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’” (Luke 22:19-20 NRSV).
The church is a community of profound meaning for seniors because it has the capacity to speak to their deep spiritual needs, offering belonging, care and inspiration. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)
I was raised in a family with Scottish Presbyterian roots, where no one talked about faith for fear of being “too religious.” We trusted that seniors had it all figured out and their faith carried them, although we would be stretched to say we understood how.
After serving as interim pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, Ont., Waldo Pauls ended up staying on as minister for seven years. He is pictured with his wife Pam at their farewell service following Waldo’s retirement in 2014. (Photo by Ernie Janzen)
“You don’t go quickly from Egypt to the Promised Land,” quips Harold Schlegel. “The wilderness is where God forms us.”
The wilderness Schlegel speaks of is the transition in a congregation’s life between one pastor and another. Church leaders suggest it’s a time that’s ripe for interim or transitional ministry.
“And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him” (I Samuel 16:23).
David would play his harp, and Saul would feel better. David would mediate the spirit of life and make the evil spirit depart from Saul.
‘Soup and Pie’ by Manitoba artist Margruite Krahn was featured in the November 2015 issue of Anabaptist Witness that focussed on food issues. She cites the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as her inspiration. The work hangs at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.
“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.
I recently learned to eat anarsa—a sweet, rice-based treat—while travelling in India visiting with Mennonite women, and learning about their religious lives and food practices. It was late February, but I was told that Christians in India normally prepare anarsa at Christmastime as a seasonal and festive treat.
There is a new culture in North America around sexual harassment and abuse. The social media hashtag #MeToo is everywhere, and we are starting to address abusive behaviour in the church with the hashtag #ChurchToo.
“While I don’t want to give the impression that the West has no gifts to offer the global church, too often we assume that it is our wealth and our wisdom that will be the world’s greatest salvation.” (Art: ‘Christ and the Rich Young Ruler’ by Heinrich Hofmann)
“What could I—a white, wealthy evangelical Anglophone—say that would be meaningful or relevant to a congregation of poor Mexican Pentecostals?” (Photo courtesy of Michael Thomas)
‘Without understanding there is no basis for compassionate change or the possibility of partnership.’ —First Nations theologian Richard Twiss, 1954-2013 (2010 file photo by Gerry Sportak)
Immediately after finishing with undergraduate school in 2008, I went down to Mexico to help translate for a mission trip that my mom and younger brother were taking with my church’s youth group.
‘We’re starting to build momentum here . . . to build relationships and have good conversations with people who wouldn’t otherwise come to our church building.’ —Pastor Lydia Crutwell, First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver (First United Mennonite Church photo)
‘Our vision is to be a community of authentic relationships in which we learn how to love God, love one another and love our neighbourhood.’ —Pastor Tim Kuepfer, Chinatown Peace Church, Vancouver (Chinatown Peace Church photo)
Mennonites have always been known as a migrant people, whether moving from Switzerland to North America, from the Netherlands to Prussia and Ukraine, and from Europe to South America and eventually to Canada.
It’s a question I’ve heard many times over the years: “Do Christians really need to believe in Jesus’ resurrection?”
It is, after all, a pretty difficult idea to accept. And this is not just a modern difficulty. It’s been obvious to humans for a very long time that dead people stay dead.
Ephesians begins by blessing God for revealing the great mystery, namely, to “gather up all things in Christ” (1:10).
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.
Advent, according to one definition, is “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” Yet along the way, we’ve come to associate Advent not with arrival, but with waiting.
Update: In October 2020, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada announced the termination of the ministerial credentials of John D. Rempel, on the basis of ministerial sexual misconduct.
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.
“The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids and his 11 children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
“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 was humbled and challenged when I spent the day with some of my Old Order Mennonite relations recently.