Disturbing and perplexing is the only way to describe the cut in federal funding for a proven program of ex-prisoner rehabilitation called Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA).
These Easter morning words from Mary (John 20:13b) are prophetic for the church today, a time when we may have lost our bearings in our discipleship-oriented denomination.
My ears perked up at a recent seminar when a leader began to speak about crucial conversations. He defined such conversations as ones whose stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions run strong. I was even more eager to hear how he successfully led his extended family in a process related to his aging father.
Helping people give money away over the past 15 years has been a tremendously rewarding part of my work at Mennonite Foundation of Canada.
Many of these generous people are from the “builder generation” (born in or before 1945). The builders I’ve spoken with give generously, value church institutions and trust the people who run them.
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
So what does the Bible say about thin places?
“God has given us a toolkit,” said Wilma Derksen. First it was forgiveness when Wilma and Cliff’s daughter Candace was murdered in 1984. Then it was learning to love when they learned that Mark Edward Grant was arrested and charged with her murder in 2007, and then truth and justice as they sat through his trial in 2011.
When a high-risk, low functioning, repeat child abuser was released from prison in the Hamilton, Ont., area in 1994, many locals responded with predictable revulsion. Harry Nigh, a Mennonite pastor, was not among them. He gathered a small group of people who reached out to the man, offering support and accountability. The man never reoffended.
Kirsten Hamm-Epp and Jerry Buhler prepare to serve the Lord’s Supper to participants at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions held in Saskatoon recently. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)
Mennonite Church Canada executive director Willard Metzger, left, visits with Ryan Siemens, pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert, Sask., at an ice cream social in honour of Jerry Buhler, outgoing area church minister, at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Ed Bueckert of Zoar Mennonite Church, Langham, Sask., left, listens to Aldred Neufeldt, who attended the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions on behalf of MC Canada’s Future Directions Task Force.
“We don’t all know God in the same way,” Bruce Jantzen reflected at the recent Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions, “but that doesn’t change who God is.”
Like her counterparts in other area churches, Ida Buhler has the unenviable task of making budget cuts. At the recent Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions, the finance chair reported a $40,000 shortfall in church donations to the area church in 2014.
With appreciation and affection, participants at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions said thank you and farewell to Jerry Buhler, who served as area church minister for nine year years. It was clear from the standing ovation he received that he made many friends during that time.
“We want a church that is for everyone, and we want to be part of making that happen.” This statement from a Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization (SMYO) report to the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions appeared to be borne out by the level of engagement witnessed in members of the SMYO Committee at the March 13 and 14 meetings.
Maciel Arias from Toronto New Life Mennonite Church, left, translates for Lili Hurtarte, lay leader at Toronto New Life Mennonite Centre, while Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite, Kitchener, listens with Lucy Roca of the Refuge de Pais congregations in Quebec. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Former MC Canada Witness workers Julie and Phil Bender visit with Sze-Kar Wan, keynote speaker at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Brian Bauman, MC Eastern Canada missions minister, left, and Pastor Jehu Lian of the Chin Christian Church in Kitchener, right, listen as Bernard Sejour, newly hired Ottawa Catalyst, shares during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Louam Vanhbyvang, left, and Liang Nay prepare the Lao-themed dinner for the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Lori and Charlie Derksen, children of Kevin Derksen, one of the pastors at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, dance as Menno Valley Sound performs at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers fun evening. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Pastors Norm Dyck of Listowel Mennonite Church, left, Tim Reimer of Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto, and Steve Brnjas, interim pastor at Zion Mennonite Fellowship in Elmira, visit during an optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Abate Bekele, pastor of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto, left; Fanosie Legasse, an Ethiopian who attends Bethel Mennonite Church near Elora Ont.; Tadesse Mekuria Aleme, pastor of Medahnialem Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Toronto; and Pastor Kassa Lemma of the Freedom Gospel Ethiopian Church in Toronto, visit during an optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Lois Guenther Reesor, left, takes part in a discussion with Sze-Kar Wan and Tom Yoder Neufeld at a public event held during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. Reesor used Wan’s material in her thesis in the master of theology program at Conrad Grebel University College, where the annual school was held. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
“Evangelism is dangerous,” Sze-Kar Wan said in conclusion of his three-day exegesis of the first three chapters of Galatians at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada School for Ministers. “When you evangelize, you include new people in your group and you have to expect change,” he said, noting that it’s possible “the insiders might become marginalized.”
Gerry Loewen runs her fingers along a row of books and moves toward a clothing rack packed with sweaters and cardigans. She is explaining what sort of donations come in to the thrift shop when a customer approaches her. He holds out a business card and tells his story. She listens patiently and, once he’s finished, asks if this is his first time visiting the shop. He answers yes.
“Faith and death: An evening with Rudy Wiebe” drew an interested crowd to hear the noted Canadian Mennonite author speak at Trinity Western University (TWU) on March 3.
Community Mennonite Church face off against East Zorra Mennonite Church at the 2014 Bible quizzing event. (Photo courtesy of Jeramie Raimbault)
For about 30 years, youth from several Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregations in Ontario have looked forward to their annual Bible quizzing event. It’s centred around friendly competition, memorization of minute biblical details and application of biblical principles to everyday life.
There is a natural dignity in the morning routine of a 95-year-old man living alone. Especially when the routine is based on building friendships across cultures.
At 6:42 a.m., the Langara Family YMCA may be the noisiest spot in South Vancouver. Among the squeaks of gym shoes and hiss of locker room showers, you can even catch a chorus of gospel music—in Mandarin.
Emmaus House is an intentional community for university students in Winnipeg made up of 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Emmanus House)
Kelsey Wiebe, left, and Davis Plett clean up after supper one evening. Members of the Emmaus House community eat supper together daily. (Photo by Aaron Epp)
Emmaus House community member Louisa Hofer, with Remy, one of two dogs that also live in the house. (Photo by Aaron Epp)
When Davis Plett was considering moving out of his parents’ home, he wasn’t sure he was ready to be on his own. Moving into a 103-year-old house with 12 other people seemed like a good option.
“The danger of meeting new people and then having the additional risk of living with them excited me,” says Plett, 21, who studies English literature at the University of Winnipeg.