Volume 23 Issue 17

Disciples and citizens

'If they had had the chance, how would the diverse disciples have voted in matters affecting their community and their land?' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

A group of men and women travelled the dusty roads, meeting people, eating together, hearing stories, pondering deep sayings, seeing miracles and conversing with their leader. 

Faithful practices on a dying planet

‘Bring out your dead,’ by Edmund Evans, circa 1864. This coloured wood engraving pictures a medieval street scene with a town crier and a two-wheeled cart making the rounds and collecting the bodies of plague victims; a few people have gathered around a small fire for warmth. (wikimedia.org photo (public domain))

Over the last few months, the reality of the climate crisis we are in the midst of has started to strike me in a new and terrible way. As the best-case scenarios for our planet grow more dire and the possibility of achieving even these scenarios grows more remote, it has started to dawn on me that the church is not only faced with the task of working to stop the destruction of our planet.

Where heaven and earth meet

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the largest building in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

The Temple of Heaven is one of my favourite places in China. It was the place where the emperor went several times a year to offer sacrifices and receive wisdom from the spiritual realm, in order to rule wisely. The temple, with its three-tiered, round, blue roof representing heaven, is surrounded by a square courtyard with green walls representing the earth.

Intentional with our time

'My husband and I have been very mindful of what we will fill our schedules with... We have time for father-son mountain biking, weekend morning Lego time, and running over to the neighbours to play with their kittens.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

With fall schedules now well underway, I sense the pressure of a “busy” lifestyle creeping in on our days and cramping our summer style. I’ve chatted with many friends who have hopped right into the overwhelming patterns of rushing out the door to yet another soccer practice or piano lesson.

How to talk about money at your church

'Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving.' (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving. God’s mercies to us are new every morning, and we have so much to be grateful for.

Imagine that one or two Sundays every month, someone from the congregation shares a moment of gratitude during worship. I’ll call the church Peach Blossom.

Revolutionary hospitality

'Radical hospitality became a central practice for the early church. Congregations intentionally welcomed those who were unwelcomed by others.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

When you search “hospitality” online, Google auto-fills with words like industry, services and tourism. You will find links to lodging, food and beverage establishments, entertainment and travel services, and hospitality management training institutions. What you don’t find, unfortunately, are links to Christianity or the church.

Finding spiritual fruits in Mennonite orchards

'We found that the sweetest spiritual fruit had grown in the Mennonite communities, so we wanted to plant that seed in our backyard.' (Image by Marco Roosink/Pixabay)

When Ly Vang was growing up on a farm in Laos, her family planted it own fruits, and her parents always said, ‘Whenever you eat fruit that tastes good, save the seed so you can plant it. That way you will have more delicious fruit!’

Imperilled world, imperfect choices

‘So I must state that, for all the good reasons to fly, there is one good reason not to: We’re cookin’ the place,’ states Will Braun, as rising sea levels and melting glaciers and icebergs attest. (Photo © istock.com/Don Mennig)

I interviewed five people who care about climate, yet, like many of us, they take actions not backed by their beliefs. I wanted to gently pull back the veil on the inner tensions with which many of us contend. 

Planting trees, nurturing a dream

Wayne and Carry Dueck appreciate the wild beauty of the place they have come to call The Land. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne and Carry Dueck walk across the property they refer to as The Land. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne Dueck admires how the Scots pine trees he planted over 30 years ago have grown and proliferated over the years. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne Dueck is dwarfed next to the Scots pine trees he planted on The Land over 30 years ago. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne and Carry Dueck hammer a cedar shake into the ground in front of a pine tree. This marker recalls a special friendship. Other markers over the years have commemorated loved ones who have died, or recalled distant friends. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The names on this cedar shake will disappear with time, and the marker itself may disappear, as deer seem to find them tasty, says Wayne Dueck. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne and Carry Dueck wander through the trees on the property they call The Land. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

‘Is there cell reception here?’ Wayne Dueck wonders as he sits in a former campfire circle on The Land. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne Dueck notes the proliferation and size of second-growth conifers that have sprung up in recent years on The Land. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne and Carry Dueck examine a small burr oak tree planted in the late 1990s. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne Dueck laughs when he sees an ironically placed detour sign. Spending time on The Land has been a detour of sorts for the Duecks as they have re-evaluated what is important to them. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Carry Dueck marvels at the many second-growth trees that have sprouted over the years since her husband Wayne planted thousands of trees in the late 1980s. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wayne Dueck examines a burr oak tree he planted in the late 1990s. He expects that, if the tree survives, it may outlive many of the surrounding conifers. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

As they walk the length of their 32-hectare (80-acre) property, it is evident that Wayne and Carry Dueck share a deep love for the place they simply call The Land.

Church garden provides produce for soup kitchen

The garden at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, Man., donates its produce to local soup kitchen, Soup’s On. (Photo by Larry Friesen)

Larry Friesen, garden coordinator, shows a harvest of potatoes from the garden. (Photo courtesy of Larry Friesen)

Sharon Reimer picks cucumbers from the garden. (Photo by Larry Friesen)

Betty Koop showcases the garden’s tall tomato plants. (Photo by Larry Friesen)

In the summer of 2004, Joy Neufeld opened the first soup kitchen in Steinbach. Fifteen years later, Soup’s On is still serving its community and is thriving.

Neufeld, a member of Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, started the project because she loved working in the kitchen. “I just love cooking and baking, but the last thing Steinbach needed was another restaurant,” she says. 

Rearranging pews a symbol of deeper discernment

The Waterloo-Kitchener United Church congregation rearranged its sanctuary in a more communal way around a central space. The church’s summer theme was ‘Building community around a shared table,’ with food to share at the end of the service. (Photo by Karl Dick)

In what church member Karl Dick calls a “bold summer experiment,” the congregation at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church decided to unscrew some of its hardwood benches and re-arrange them in “a more communal” way.

Duet bikes an opportunity for young and old to connect

Volunteers take two residents out for a ride on the duet bikes. (Photo courtesy of Menno Place)

Bruce Marshall, a resident of Menno Place, is pedalled around by rehabilitation assistant Dale Carlisle, who took part in the 2018 MCC B.C. Pedaling for Hope cyclathon. (Photo courtesy of Menno Place)

Emily Pfannschmidt and Dale Carlisle pedal for Menno Place residents Lex Smid and Bruce Marshall. (Photo courtesy of Menno Place)

People walking around Abbotsford, B.C.’s Mill Lake might have caught an odd sight of seniors riding on duet bikes this summer.

Duet bikes are wheelchair tandem bikes that enable people who have little mobility to get pedalled around by someone who has that ability. 

Exhibit features professor’s paintings of historic Anabaptist sites

Gareth Brandt, an Anabaptist history professor at Columbia Bible College, stands beside ‘Strassbourg,’ one of his ‘simple folk art’ works at the Mennonite Heritage Museum, where his ‘Stories of the Anabaptists’ collection is on display until Nov. 1. (Mennonite Heritage Museum photo by Julia Toews )

Patrons at Mennonite Heritage Museum view the paintings of Gareth Brandt depicting ‘Stories of the Anabaptists’ that are on display through Nov. 1. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Paintings of Gareth Brandt depicting ‘Stories of the Anabaptists’ that are on display through Nov. 1. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

A love for the arts, combined with an interest in Anabaptist history, has inspired a professor at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford to create paintings depicting early Anabaptist history. The exhibit of Gareth Brandt’s water-colour paintings, “Stories of the Anabaptists,” was introduced Sept. 11 at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford.

MMI golf tournament aids Edmonton Mennonite Guest Home rebuild

Pictured from left to right: Rudy Koop; Garth Wideman and Dave Lefever, both of Holyrood Mennonite, Edmonton; and Herman Neufeld of Edmonton First Mennonite, formed a team to raise money for the Edmonton Mennonite Guest Home at the first-ever MMI golf tournament in September. (Photo by Marguerite Jack)

The Edmonton Mennonite Guest Home, a non-profit subsidiary of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, is rebuilding one of its two houses in south Edmonton. Completion is expected to be in the spring 2020. (Photo by Brian Ladd)

Mennonite Mutual Insurance (MMI) in Alberta had its first-ever golf tournament fundraiser at the Eagle Rock Golf Course in Leduc County, just south of Edmonton, on Sept. 7. Chosen as its beneficiary was the Edmonton Mennonite Guest Home that provides short-term residential accommodation for patients and families of patients being treated in Edmonton’s medical facilities.

Move to Canadian office 'a blessing'

César Garcia, general secretary of Mennonite World Conference is pictured in his Kitchener, Ont., office, where he has been working for the past seven months. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

For César Garcia, general secretary of Mennonite World Conference (MWC), relocating to office space in Kitchener has “been a blessing.” He shares the office with four staff, some of the 40 people who work and volunteer for MWC around the world. MWC shares space at 50 Kent Avenue with staff from a variety of other Anabaptist related organizations.

MCC program shares ‘tools’ to combat homelessness

TOOLS coordinator Pete Olsen sits next to the ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue. (Photo courtesy of Pete Olsen)

A group of TOOLS participants talk with a homeless person at Yonge Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Pete Olsen)

In 2013, the first cast of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz’s “Homeless Jesus” was installed. The bronze statue, which depicts the Christ figure as a person sleeping on a park bench, was offered to two churches before being installed at Regis College at the University of Toronto.

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