Once in a great while along comes a classic literary work that gets our attention like no other, not necessarily intended or viewed at the time of its publication, but touching our minds and spirits as a rallying point in our continuing Anabaptist story.
“I really do not want more community than we already have at this church,” shared a congregant during a Sunday morning adult Sunday school discussion. “What I like about this church is that no one judges you for not being more involved or attending regularly. If we had more community, people would expect too much from me.”
1. What are some examples of things you do to support others in your family, congregation, team or club? In what situations have you received support from others? In what groups do you feel a strong sense of belonging? Have Mennonite congregations tended to take the importance of community for granted?
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed . . . it is the smallest of all the seeds, but grows into the greatest of shrubs” (Matthew 13:31-32).
Jesus told his disciples to make disciples. He was very clear. He promised his Spirit would enable us and would do the work of convicting and opening hearts and minds. Our part is quite simple.
How well do you know your neighbours?
Do you know the names of their kids or grandkids? What about their pets? Do you know what their favourite team is?
“Hey, Chink! Go back to China!” Derogatory as it was, this was the racial slur directed at one of my Vietnamese college parishioners in a gym recently. Racist remarks of this nature haven’t changed from the time when I was going to school.
Over the past 20 years I have dedicated much effort to advancing the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the rest of us. I have lived in, worked with and written about various aboriginal communities. Currently, I work part-time for the Interchurch Council on Hydropower, which advocates for fair treatment of indigenous people affected by dams in Manitoba.
Two topics were front and centre when the board and staff of Mennonite Church Manitoba travelled the province in April for face-to-face conversations with congregations in seven regional meetings.
Being a Faithful Church
The cross with the crucified Christ is an important icon for Greek Catholic worshippers. (Credit: George Dyck)
Exterior roof repairs to the former Mennonite church in the former village of Schoensee—now Snegurovka—are visible. (Credit: George Dyck)
A former Mennonite church building in Ukraine is being restored and transformed with the help of Canadian Mennonites into a Greek Catholic church.
According to observers, this development is an example of Mennonite-Catholic collaboration in the spirit of other exchanges over the past decade or so.
Recent member Donna Bentz and founding member Ron Zehr look at photos from Hillcrest Mennonite’s 50 years at the anniversary celebration on May 24. Behind them are the 50 comforters knotted this year as an anniversary service project.
Founding member Earl Bender holds his great-grandson Jack at Hillcrest Mennonite’s 50th-anniversary celebration on May 24.
Hillcrest Mennonite Church’s present and former pastors pose at the 50th-anniversary celebration on May 24. Pictured from left to right, front row: Mary Schiedel, Maurice Martin, Jan Steckley and Glenn Zehr; and back row: Kevin Peters Unrau, Vernon Brubacher, Gerald Good and Harold Schlegel.
Things moved fast 50 years ago. On May 14, 1963, East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock decided that it needed to plant a daughter church to alleviate crowding in the mother church. A building committee met the next day to plan where the new congregation’s building would be and what it would look like.
Josephine and Garcie Cogar of Webster Springs, W.V., test out their new walking bridge that connects their home to the community. It was built by Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers as part of the organization’s efforts after Hurricane Sandy devastated the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in 2012. MDS and community volunteers can be seen in the background. (MDS photo by Paul Hunt)
Thirteen metres isn’t a long walk, but it can be a difficult journey when the creek between your house and the rest of your community is running high and the bridge across it is out.
As a young boy, Elmer Hildebrand enjoyed selling greeting cards and garden seeds to his neighbours in the farming community near Altona. He had no idea where these interests and skills of his would lead. All he knew was that he didn’t want to farm.
“I’m hoping it’ll be like a three-day book club,” said one participant of the continuing education event offered by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan recently.
It was an average supper for us. My partner made potato-leek soup and I put some buns on the table. We said grace and we ate. I liked the soup, so I had a second helping and another piece of bread. It wasn’t long before our soon-to-be-two-year-old was no longer interested in eating and wanted to go outside. I cleaned my bowl, finished the rest of his serving and took him out.
The other morning, after dreaming to the tune of the constant patter of rain on the tin roof of my house, I woke early to enjoy a morning stroll through the mountains of northern Guatemala. After an hour or so of watching the mystical dance of clouds caressing the valleys and peaks of the green hills, I began to notice that my right foot was soaking wet.
Like most North Americans, I grew up in a household where no meal was complete without a serving of meat, although I didn’t really know where the meat that I ate came from.
Here begins a new adventure: Canadian Mennonite’s Young Voices section. What is this section, you ask? Why is it here?
Upon reflection, the magazine realized that its readership is—how to put this gently—aging. And while this threatens the life and breath of subscriptions, it’s also a problem because many voices in the church aren’t part of the conversation.
According to a tract produced by a Holdeman group, television is “rocking people to sleep morally and spiritually.” I agree with our Anabaptist cousins—however outdated they sound—although I still love TV.
“If we step back and review the letters to the editor in this magazine over the past several years, we generally find debates in the church and religion framed in terms of conservative and liberal.
“Each side thinks the other is at best misguided, perhaps even profoundly wrong, and misinterprets Scripture. There tends to be a fair bit of each side yelling at the other.”