Volume 24 Issue 2

Cultivating hope

'We can take mini-sabbaticals by stepping away from the computer, the smartphone, the newspaper and TV news. We disconnect, knowing that God is larger than our human efforts.' (Image by Shah Rokh/Pixabay)

In the first days of 2020, our newsfeeds were full: confrontations over a pipeline in western Canada, devastating fires in Australia, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, the death of 176 people whose airplane was shot down and speculations of a possible war in the Middle East. 

Learning to live with technology

Zac Schellenberg, a teacher at Rosthern Junior College, uses his cell phone to take a picture of students taking selfies. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

Increasingly, students are required to use their cell phones for classroom work. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

The anonymity of the internet can make it easier to engage in bullying behaviour online. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

While screen time can be isolating, it can also be used to build community, as when students study together. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

In many schools the internet has replaced the library as a major source of information. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

In many schools the internet has replaced the library as a major source of information. (Photo by Jill Olfert Wiens)

The internet and the myriad technologies that have accompanied its rise to media supremacy have transformed the way people communicate. For better or worse they have also transformed education.

No longer predictable

'Our church family has expanded and, with it, our diversity.' (Image by truthseeker08/Pixabay)

The church we inhabit today is a lot different than the one I grew up in. Whether it was an English congregation or a German one, the worship services tended to have a familiar look and feel. “Mennonite” was somewhat predictable. 

MCC annual meeting

Photo by Charmayne Denlinger Brubaker / Mennonite Heritage Archives.

In 1984, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) held its annual meeting in Richmond, British Columbia. Pictured from left to right are board members Hugo Jantz, Leo Driedger, Henry P. Yoder, Bruce Janzen and Florence Driedger. Money is a form of power. With it, a person or organization can fulfill needs and wants. How does God want us to use this power?

Transformative experiences

'A ragged and stained potholder has hung next to my kitchen stove ever since 1988.' (Photo courtesy of Randy Haluza-DeLay)

A thoroughly ragged and stained potholder has hung next to my kitchen stove ever since 1988. It was stitched together from scraps of cloth by some unknown Pennsylvania Mennonite. In those days, a group of women made potholders for every person who came through Akron, Pa., for a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) orientation before a term of service.

Three congregations leave MC Eastern Canada

The sign in front of Calvary Church in Ayr, Ont., hints at the significant shift taking place as the church merges with Calvary Pentecostal Assembly of nearby Cambridge. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

In September 2019, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada reported: “We announce with great sadness that River of Life, Calvary Church Ayr (Mennonite), and Milverton Mennonite Fellowship [all in Ontario] have left the MC Eastern Canada family.

Listening to those who have left

'He recently left a Mennonite Church Canada congregation that professes open-mindedness and inclusivity. I wanted to know why.' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

A Mennonite elder once told me, “We need to listen to people who leave the church.”

John Reimer (a pseudonym) is one such person. A soft-spoken grandpa, he recently left a Mennonite Church Canada congregation that professes open-mindedness and inclusivity. I wanted to know why.

Winnipeg church welcomes its neighbours

Home Street Mennonite Church is located in the heart of Winnipeg’s inner city. (Home Street Mennonite Church website photo)

A star blanket, sewn by an Indigenous women's collective in Winnipeg, hangs in the Coffee and Conversation space at Home Street Mennonite Church. It symbolizes the congregation’s commitment to be treaty people and strive for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. (Photo by Esther Epp-Tiessen)

Every Sunday morning at Home Street Mennonite Church, two ushers hand out bulletins and seat guests for the worship service. But an hour earlier, a group of “Third Ushers” is already busy, welcoming in the church’s inner-city neighbours.

St. Jacobs Mennonite stages 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever'

Imogine (Tina Cressman), Gladys (Lucy Derksen) and Ralph Herdman (Zach Cressman) react with surprise and confusion when they hear the Christmas story for the first time. (Photo by Heather Weber)

Charlie Bradley, played by Jaren Klassen, insists that he doesn’t want to be in the church Christmas pageant directed by his mother, in the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church production of ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,’ based on the story by Barbara Robinson. (Photo by Heather Weber)

Bob (Scott Morton Ninomiya), Charlie (Jaren Klassen) and Beth Bradley (Julia Schroeder Kipfer) discuss how the annual Christmas pageant is the same every year. (Photo by Heather Weber)

Grace Bradley (Melinda Metzger), left, who gets stuck directing the Christmas pageant full of the rough and tumble Herdman kids, reads the Christmas story to the Herdmans, who have never heard it before. Imogine (Tina Cressman), who plays Mary; Gladys (Lucy Derksen), who plays the angel of the Lord; and Ralph (Zach Cressman), who plays Joseph, react with ideas of their own about how the story ought to go. (Photo by Heather Weber)

From left to right, Imogine (Tina Cressman), Gladys (Lucy Derksen) and Ralph Herdman (Zach Cressman) catch the true meaning of Christmas as they play the roles of Mary, the angel of the Lord, and Joseph in the church Christmas pageant. (Photo by Heather Weber)

Some 80 people from all ages were part of staging The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at St. Jacobs (Ont.) Mennonite Church on Dec. 21 and 22. The 1950s era story tells how the rough and tumble Herdman kids end up with all the main roles in the annual Christmas pageant, much to the chagrin of the regular congregants.

Family of artists share their work in new book

Proudfoot family portrait of 2018: (left to right) Annora Proudfoot, Robert Proudfoot, Valerie Proudfoot (nee Braun) and Alicia Proudfoot. (Photo by Alicia Proudfoot)

A couch harp, created by Alicia Proudfoot, on display at the Hernandez Art Gallery in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Alicia Proudfoot)

Many individuals dream of writing a book, but it’s not often that an entire family writes a book together. Three generations of artists from the Proudfoot family compiled a book of short stories, essays, paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and poetry. It was published in February 2019 by Friesen Press.

RJC: Becoming a missional school

RJC students increasingly come from non-Mennonite families. Rather than seeing this as a problem, principal Ryan Wood sees it as an opportunity. (Photo from RJC’s Facebook page)

Rosthern Junior College has been a steadfast presence in Mennonite education for almost 115 years. However, decreasing enrolment has prompted the school’s administration and board to rethink what the school is all about.

Strangers become friends at college

Katrina Steckle, left, is pictured with her first-year Grebel roommate, Madeleine Graham. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Steckle)

My older sister met her best friend at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., in 2013. They were paired together as roommates for their first year, and lived together in their second and fourth years as well. I remember my sister coming home from school on the weekends and telling amazing stories about the fun she and her roommate were having at Grebel.

Their stories showed me how to be brave

Hannah Larson of Vancouver, Wash., serves with SALT in Siliguri, India, with the West Bengal Voluntary Health Association. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Larson)

In the last few months with Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together program, I have thought often about how we all use stories to communicate. And how sometimes I have found myself wishing I could politely use a bookmark to pause someone’s story when I wasn’t that interested in it. 

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