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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wayne and Carry Dueck appreciate the wild beauty of the place they have come to call 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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.