Volume 23 Issue 19

Shaped by our essential book

'What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above other books?' (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

The name Arab Christians use for the Bible translates literally as “The Holy Book,” and they often shorten it to “The Book.” Article 4 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states: “The Bible is the essential book of the church.” What does it mean if we see the Bible as the book above

The world in colour

‘Face painting phantasm’ (mennopix Digital art by Ross W. Muir)

If the Bible is a story, it is also something more: It’s a book that dares to make an authoritative claim on life. Between the poems and proverbs and parables, a portrait is taking shape of who God is and what exactly God desires. The Bible suggests that to learn to walk with God and love the things that God loves is to begin to live in sync with the world’s true design.

Speak Jesus

(Image by Thomas B./Pixabay)

In the mid-1960s, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman coined the phrase “the social construction of reality.” The phrase emphasizes that the world of power and meaning is created through the careful management and manipulation of social symbols.

Bethel Bible Institute

Photo: By Rudy Regehr / Mennonite Heritage Archives

Can you help identify these three men at Bethel Bible Institute (BBI)? Is John Poettcker in the centre? The formation of Bethel in Abbotsford, B.C., was proposed in 1937 at the ministers conference of the Conference of United Mennonite Churches of B.C.

Rhythms of reconciliation

'We can forgive and trust God’s healing power to transform our broken hearts.' (Image by succo/Pixabay)

My two-year-old has developed a habit of throwing his bowl across the kitchen when he’s finished his food. Sometimes it clears the dining area and we find it in the playroom with a messy trail of porridge!

Every time I tell him not to do it, he says, “I sorry, Mommy. I won’t.”

Credible Christians

'People who are sceptical of organized religion are actively seeking out insights on Jesus and spirituality from people who aren’t overtly affiliated with the church. People like Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Brand (pictured) . . . to name a few.' (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/RussellBrand)

“People are no longer interested in religion or church, but they are still interested in Jesus.” This is a statement many Christians, including myself on occasion, proclaim confidently.

Walking a different path

Marlene Friesen of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., enjoys a sunrise view of the Dead Sea during a walking tour of the West Bank last spring. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Out for a late afternoon hike in the desert with a Bedouin host from our camp, we happened upon their camel herd. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Hikers pass Mar Saba, a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in AD 483 and now considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world that still maintains many of its ancient traditions. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Many of the valleys we walked through were carpeted with wild flowers. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

One of our fellow hikers speaks with a local shepherd comparing walking sticks and hiking poles! (Photo by Albert Friesen)

When we first started telling people we were going to hike the Masar Ibrahim Trail in the West Bank, Palestine, they were incredulous.

“You’re going where? You’re doing what?”

Chinese Mennonites persist in Edmonton for 30 years

Edmonton Christian Life Community Church, which has membership in three Mennonite denominations, rents space from St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Edmonton. (Photos by Ken Tse)

Each week, a little band of disciples known as Edmonton Christian Life Community Church meets at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Edmonton, where many homeless people congregate. The congregation of about 20 is made up of Chinese boat people who came to Canada in the 1980s, many of whom got jobs as cleaners upon their arrival.

A farewell to the ‘blue hymnal’

Eighty people from different Mennonite churches, denominations and even provinces participated in Sargent Avenue Mennonite’s hymnal sing-a-thon weekend at the end of September. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Singers sang all 658 hymns from Hymnal: A Worship Book and raised $800 to help Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church purchase copies of the new Voices Together hymnal. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Over the span of a single weekend, Sean Goerzen sang or played every single hymn in the blue-backed Hymnal: A Worship Book. All 658 of them. “I feel like I know the hymnal in a very intimate way now,” he says with a laugh.

Praying without words

John Gascho and Melody Neufeld have launched a centring prayer group that meets bi-weekly at Osler (Sask.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

A solitary candle flickers on a low table in the middle of a darkened room. Participants chat quietly with one another as they wait for the session to begin, having come to partake in an hour of centring prayer and sharing.

A short history of Lao Christian Fellowship

Lao Christian Fellowship in St. Catharines officially became a Mennonite congregation in 1983. (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

After many years of war in and around Laos, the Laos PDR party took over in 1975, and hundreds of thousands of Laotians escaped to Thailand. Under Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, and with the help of individuals and groups under the leadership of Mennonite Central Committee, many families settled in Canada.

Like a bird who flew away . . . and came home

Nancy Frey, left, is pictured teaching at the Benin Bible Institute in Cotonou, Benin. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Frey and Bruce Yoder)

Nancy Frey remembers as a young child seeing a bird flying by and telling her mother, “Someday I am going to be like that bird and fly away.”

She did just that, spending a year in France after graduating from high school. That was only the beginning of a ministry career that has spanned two decades, most of it spent in West Africa.

Langham artist finds connection through painting

‘Created in His Image’ by Valerie Wiebe.

‘A Coat of Many Colours’ by Valerie Wiebe.

‘Down in the Valley’ by Valerie Wiebe.

Painted for MC Canada’s Assembly 2016, ‘Called Out’ by Valerie Wiebe depicts the church (the tiny black marks representing the people of God) leaving the church building and walking toward the setting sun.

Her parents called her Dynamite. Although she didn’t care for the nickname when she was a child, Valerie Wiebe has come to appreciate its layers of meaning.

Book explores healthy masculinity

Once upon a time, living in splendid isolation, Mennonite men were moulded differently from the rest of society. Worshipping in a traditional peace church with a different set of values, they didn’t fit the western stereotype of a male. But today, Mennonite men are diverse; as much urban as rural, as much men of colour as white, and they have diverse views on politics, religion and lifestyle.

‘I realized I had been duped!’

Gordon Toombs, left, was deceived by the Canadian military when he tried to register as a conscientious objector during the Second World War. His recent book, "L74298: Recollections of a Conscientious Objector in World War II," is dedicated to Conrad Stoesz, right, archivist at Winnipeg’s Mennonite Heritage Archives, in gratitude for revealing the deception.

Gordon Toombs was deceived by the Canadian military when he tried to register as a conscientious objector (CO) during the Second World War. His recent book, L74298: Recollections of a Conscientious Objector in World War II, is dedicated to Conrad Stoesz, archivist at Winnipeg’s Mennonite Heritage Archives, in gratitude for revealing the deception.

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