The response to my request for an interview last September said it all: “Maggie and I are in Tuscany. . . . We’ve rented a small villa very near Cortona [Italy] and will be here until the end of October. I’m afraid the interview will have to wait until early November. Ciao.”
Nearly a year after receiving an award from the Waterloo Region’s Greening Sacred Spaces organization, Hillcrest Mennonite Church in New Hamburg was the site for a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario solar open house on Feb. 26.
With the theme of “Being a Peace Church,” 88 church leaders and others interested in the topic met at Living Hope Christian Fellowship, Surrey, for the annual Mennonite Church B.C. Leaders, Elders and Deacons (LEAD) conference on Feb. 25.
Reports on a new church plant model and passion for native ministries highlighted the annual delegate sessions of Mennonite Church B.C., held at Living Hope Christian Fellowship, Surrey, on Feb. 26. Delegates followed “Being a Peace Church” as a theme, carried out through both business and workshop sessions.
Henry Kliewer, standing, the director of Mennonite Church Manitoba Leadership Ministries, offers a prayer of blessing during the commissioning serv-ice for Ken Warkentin, the new executive director for MC Manitoba. “I am looking forward to the significant challenges that lie ahead,” said Warkentin, who has been involved in church work for 29 years.
The annual Mennonite Church Manitoba gathering did not bring forth momentous decisions, but it did cause the 147 delegates—representing 37 of the area church’s 50 congregations—to occasionally squirm uncomfortably, express exasperation at times, and grapple with several challenges.
I can best write about my hopes and dreams for the future of the church by reflecting on the past. During the last 29 years of pastoral ministry I have experienced growth, turmoil, grace, struggle, surprise, conflict and peace in the church. To each one of those words I can attach stories of God breaking into my life, and into the corporate life of the body of Christ.
When I think back to my early experience of Bible stories, I recall that King Solomon was “good,” he enjoyed God’s favour. Sure, Solomon had riches and power, but he had immense wisdom, which put him in the good books . . . or so I thought.
Looking back to my church roots, it makes sense that I would inherit such a view of so-called benevolent dictators.
The story of Esther is stunning in its providential beauty and hope. Despite God never being named, the book bearing a Jewish Persian Queen’s Gentile name—a wonderful twist of biblical irony—is received as Scripture, as God’s very speech. Esther is God doing sign language. God writes himself out of the story, but not out of history. The I AM receives no cameo.