A woman who was raised in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches is now a member of my congregation. When Shannon described what led her to the Mennonite church, she observed a few differences between how Mennonites and other traditions she knew practise their faith. She said that one difference was that “Mennonites hold on less tightly to their possessions.”
We are now living in a full-blown digital world. With just one click or voice command we can ask Google for a chicken recipe, order office supplies or give to our favourite charity online.
As a kid, I grew up with the ritual of walking to the front of my church and dropping a few coins in the donation box every Sunday. But as I was sitting in church several months ago, a hymn playing on the piano and the offering basket passing through my hands, I realized that I don’t donate to my church.
We have a lot of pastoral transitions happening at the moment in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is a time that has given me pause to think about how we do church ministry and what our pastoral ministry positions look like.
In 1894, Anna Enss (1855-1914), left, and Peter Regier (1851-1925) moved their family from Prussia (now Poland) to Tiefengrund, Sask., where Regier was the founding leader of the Rosenorter Gemeinde and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.
A woman I’ll call Adelle stops by the church from time to time, looking for food or for a ride to another part of the city. My congregation has supplied me with non-perishable food, toiletry items, and, in colder seasons, toques, socks and mitts, for just such occasions.
Many conversations about the Old Testament are determined by questions of modernity. What are the facts? What really happened? The facts are then loaded as ammunition in the culture wars of “liberal” and “conservative.” Other questions bring faith to the shoals of doubt on matters of a potentially violent and misogynistic God.
Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, left, with campers from her cabin at Camp Koinonia’s youth week. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)
Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, centre, with fellow Camps with Meaning staffers Matthew Sawatzky and Emma Berg. (Photo courtesy of Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
It’s 10:30 on a sunny August morning and the lodge at Camp Koinonia, near Boissevain, Man., is bursting with shouts and harmonies. People dance and laugh together. The group radiates energy.
If the church is the body, then camp is the heart that pumps life into every corner.
Geronimo Henry, a survivor of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., says of his experience at the school, ‘I find it hard to forgive. It took my childhood from me.’ He is sitting at one of the new tables built by MDS volunteers from Mennonite congregations in Ontario and British Columbia. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Mennonite church youth groups from Kitchener, St. Jacobs, Listowel and Elmira, Ont., and Abbotsford, B.C., helped MDS restore this longhouse at the Woodland Cultural Centre over the summer. (Photo by John Longhurst)
The former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., is currently being refurbished. Over the summer, MCC, MDS and Mennonite congregations from Ontario and British Columbia helped with the work. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Carley Gallant Jenkins, the coordinator of the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence fundraising campaign, sits at a newly minted desk made by MDS volunteers from Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church in July. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Stella and Rebecca Liu of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church help file documents and shelve books in the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Jason Deng of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church sands a tabletop built by members of his congregation and MDS volunteers. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Matthew Deng of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church sands the base of a school desk built by members of his congregation and MDS volunteers. (Photo by John Longhurst)
Survivors of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., have returned to scratch messages into the bricks. There are hundreds at the back of the building where former students have left their marks, like this one from Franke, who served time at the school—‘11 years too many.’ (Photo by John Longhurst)
Crew leader Andrew Thiessen, right, of Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., and helpers from St. Jacobs Mennonite Church and Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., help move documents and books around the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (MDS photo by Nick Hamm)
Ontario volunteers from Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, and Avon Mennonite Church in Stratford. (MDS photo by Nick Hamm)
Markus Schroeder Kipfer and Jonah Willms of St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, Ont., sift for historical artifacts on the grounds of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (Photo by Nick Hamm)
Aidan Morton Ninomiya and Jonah Willms of St. Jacobs (Ont.) Mennonite Church, front row, and Christian Albrecht and Steve Manske of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., back row, sit in school desks they helped build at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (Photo by Nick Hamm)
“It’s personal, there are names and faces. It’s not just textbook information now.”
That’s how Timothy Khoo, 16, describes what it was like to meet residential school survivors while volunteering with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford in July.
Springridge Mennonite Church boot toss at its annual picnic this June in Pincher Creek. (Photo by Del Willms)
Springridge Mennonite Church egg toss with Chris Marten and granddaughter Claire. (Photo by Del Willms)
Springridge Mennonite Church traditional sack race. Pictured from left to right: Tany Warkentin, Kyle Janzen, Riley Diesty, Danika Warkentin, Andrew Janzen, Karl Janzen and Asher Warkentin. (Photo by Del Willms)
Springridge Mennonite Church sack race with Riley Diesty, left, and Jonas Anjo. (Photo by Del Willms)
Children participate in the sack race at this year’s church picnic at Trinity Mennonite Church in Okotoks, Alta. Pictured from left to right: Cole Schellenberg, Nate Lopaschuk and Ruby Loewen. (Photo by Jenna Hunsberger)
Many church programs eventually come to an end, but there’s one event that still remains after many decades—and that’s the church picnic!
Ontario’s Theatre of the Beat has a mandate of staging change and creating conversations around social justice issues, but that’s also happening in communities beyond the Mennonite enclaves the company brings its plays to.
The Waterloo Region chapter of Women Empowering Women (WEW) meets quarterly to nurture connections and friendships, to be inspired and to raise funds that support women in developing economies. As an auxiliary group of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), it supports MEDA’s international work of “helping women move into more valued and equitable roles in their economies.”
The local church is an excellent place to discuss saving money: Which type of tractor is cheapest to repair or whether a Costco membership is worth it. Mennonites brag about finding a good deal.
Ly Vang was 16 and stuck in a refugee camp in Thailand with a pair of shoes and two sets of clothes. She was lonely and sad. She struggled with suicidal thoughts.
“What is the meaning of living like this?” she complained to God. “Being dead would be better.”
Children make planets at the VBS craft station, on the theme of ‘To Mars and beyond.’ (Photo by Barb Burkhard)
“I’m so sad that it’s over!” said one young participant after a week of high-energy Vacation Bible School (VBS) activities at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener last month.
That is just what the eight-member intercultural planning committee wanted to hear after its first joint venture of leading VBS for children aged 2 to 11 each morning from Aug. 12 to 16.