Volume 23 Issue 13

Learning as we go

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

Four decades of welcome

Group photo from a picnic held at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. Harriet Dick is pictured front left. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Harriet Dick, back right, and son Alan, back left, host a refugee family in the Dicks’ backyard in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A Vietnamese couple’s wedding in 1983, to which Nicholas and Harriet Dick were invited, a signal of their ongoing friendship. The Dicks played a big role in further refugee efforts, including helping to settle a very large extended family of Kosovars. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A horse-and-wagon ride at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Toronto United Mennonite Church was the first church in Canada to receive privately sponsored “boat people” who were fleeing Vietnam and Laos during the chaos of the Vietnam War. 

Building resource connections

CommonWord is partnering with Herald Press to make 'The Bible Unwrapped' available for small-group study at a discounted price. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

CommonWord is just over four years old. In that short time we have doubled our sales (reaching more than 10,000 retail customers last year), more than doubled the number of website users, and have continued to circulate half of our loan materials outside Manitoba—and increasingly to people outside our immediate Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University communities.

Cayuga church

Photo: James Reusser / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

From halfway across the world, a loyal MAID watcher noticed an error. This was not the Rainham church in 1965, as originally labelled by the photographer, but South Cayuga Mennonite Church, Dunnville, Ont. Comparing it to another photo of South Cayuga, he urged us to “look at the west end of this meetinghouse.

Passionate about front-yard living

"The front-yard life of loving our neighbours, sharing with those in need and being open and vulnerable in our friendships will create the caring communities we all need." (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

My pastor husband co-preached about living a front-yard life at a large joint worship service at the park last weekend. With three churches gathered together and probably half of our town at the park, the message of interacting with our neighbours in the front yard, instead of keeping isolated in a fenced-off backyard, rippled through our town this week.

202 columns later

Melissa Miller is ending her column. "I have been grateful for the opportunity to place my heartfelt reflections before you, and will miss the monthly commitment... From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you."

Some years ago, I screwed up my courage and sent off an email to the editor of Canadian Mennonite. I offered to write a column on family relationships. 

Reaching out requires letting in

"Our 'success' in faithful outreach is... evidenced by the ongoing transformation in our own lives as we genuinely connect with others and let them in." (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

A recent CBC news article projected that 9,000 Canadian churches will close over the next 10 years. That’s approximately one-third of Canadian churches gone in a decade. It’s not news that the church in Canada is dying, but it is shocking how fast it’s happening. 

Confronting the fear of our history

University students participate in a KAIROS blanket exercise in 2015. (MCC photo by Leona Lortie)

“Yet we Christians have also been called to take a good hard look at ourselves. To reflect on our Christian beliefs, to scrutinize our missional practices. And to decolonize. It’s not that Christianity is inherently colonial, but for generations the church and its faith have been used —wittingly, unwittingly, and far too often—as instruments of dispossession in the settler colonial arsenal.

Walking and talking along the trail

Drummers welcome walkers at the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse, Fort Langley, B.C., to begin the Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation on May 31. (Photo by Ian Funk)

Walkers approach the former St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission, B.C., on the final day of the Walk for Reconciliation on June 2. (Photo by Deborah Dejong)

A group walks from the Fort Langley United Church to the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse to begin B.C.’s fourth annual Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation. (Photo by Ian Funk)

In solidarity with their First Nations neighbours, Mennonites in the Fraser Valley joined others in a Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation from May 31 to June 2.

The event was a partnership between Mennonite Central Committee B.C., Mennonite Church Canada, and several other denominations, including Anglican, the United Church and Christian Reformed Church. 

The women of Alberta rediscover Mary

Valerie Proudfoot of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, presents Irma Fast Dueck with a picture of a Mennonite Mary. Entitled ‘Mennonitische Madonna,’ the artwork by Helena Dueck of Pennsylvania was originally given to Proudfoot in 1986 as a gift of encouragement. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

“We grew up never talking about Mary. It was like the Catholics got Mary in the divorce settlement and Mennonites got a 30-minute sermon,” said Irma Fast Dueck in her opening talk at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat held from June 7 to 9 at the Sunnyside Retreat Centre in Sylvan Lake.

‘My place is right here’

Muriel Bechtel, right, and Dennis Flaming, organizers of the 'My Place is Right Here' play and joint fundraising event, are pictured with Alie Teetzel-Edmondstone and Yasmine Mohamed, representatives of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, who accepted the food donations. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was all about working together for the good of the local Cambridge community when Preston and Wanner Mennonite churches partnered with a local theatre group to support the work of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

Offering the gift of non-judgmental listening

According to Elaine Presnell, a funeral officiant and a commissioned lay pastor at Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, the best gift one can offer a grieving family is non-judgmental listening. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Elaine Presnell has presided at around 600 funerals. That’s a number most pastors won’t achieve in a lifetime. But Presnell isn’t an ordinary pastor. For more than 10 years, she has worked for Mourning Glory Funeral Services in Saskatoon as a funeral officiant.

Previously, she spent 16 years as a psychiatric nurse at Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre. 

Making art ‘like breathing’ for B.C. illustrator

Dona Park painted a mural at a school in Cambodia during her term with MCC. (Photos courtesy of Dona Park)

For Dona Park, making art is the equivalent of eating, sleeping and breathing. She does it every day because she needs to.

The 24-year-old attended Goshen (Ind.) College, from which she graduated with a double major in fine arts and history in 2017. She is now a freelance artist based in Abbotsford, B.C., where she attends Emmanuel Mennonite Church.

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