Volume 24 Issue 22

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(Photo by Tim Bennett/Unsplash)

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked Jesus two thousand years ago. Today, as we read the newspaper, watch YouTube and TV news, listen to the radio, and scroll through social media, we confront that same question. In this time of pandemic, social upheaval and political strife, the distinction between truth and falsehood seems especially nebulous. 

Faith forged in disorientation

(Photo © istock.com / lolloj)

‘By the Rivers of Babylon (Dalziel’s Bible Gallery),’ wood engraving on India paper, by Sir Edward John Poynter, circa 1865-81. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (creative commons cc0 1.0 universal public domain dedication)

‘Ezra Reads the Law to the People (Doré’s English Bible),’ by Gustave Doré, 1866. (Wikimedia commons (public domain))

This is an unprecedented time. Unprecedented—it’s a word we’re hearing a lot in the last few months. The sense of disorientation has been palpable, from eerily empty streets to new protocols at the grocery store, an ever-increasing number of masks and people performing acrobatic feats to maintain a two-metre buffer.

Reaping what you sow

Martens Bartel with some of the vegetables from her garden. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Martens Bartel)

As I finish off another growing season on the farm, I reflect on how things grew, what went well, and what to tweak for next year. Aside from our various pastured livestock, I also grow a market garden and, after nine years, I still feel that I have so much to learn.

Brubacher House

(Photo: Brubacher House Museum, Waterloo, Ont. / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Within this Mennonite hearth, we can read an environmental history. By 1850, when John E. and Magdalena Brubacher built this house, the forest stands of southwestern Ontario were well on their way to being transformed into farmland. The harvesting and sale of wood and its products was the engine of the economy.

‘You must be a Mennonite!’

'Don’t we know that choosing to be a Mennonite is not about skin colour or names, but a specific part of the Christian faith tradition?' (Image by Tumisu/Pixabay)

As a young adult I entered a Mennonite college knowing little about Mennonites. I grew up (mostly) Baptist. I was astonished to hear people say over and over again, “You must be a Mennonite!” I sputtered that just because my last name is Klassen does not make me Mennonite, and that, in fact, I was a Christian who happened to be a member of a Baptist congregation.

Finding the ‘growth edge’ in our lives

'Just as exhaling is as important as inhaling to the breathing process, rest is as important as activity to the growth process.' (Photo by Katie Barrett/Unsplash)

My focus on growth may seem strange during this difficult season we’re in, but I believe that the best way to get through this pandemic is by growing. 

My understanding of growth is simple. It’s the process of becoming who someone (or something) was created and designed to be. 

There are many ways for us to grow during even the most-challenging times. We can grow by:

Anabaptist health network responds to COVID-19

CPN promoter Rosneka Mulalyah, right, hands over a hand-washing station to Paul Karuiki and Mike Musyoki in Mathare 3B community, Kenya. (Centre for Peace and Nationhood photo)

A care group volunteer uses the hand-washing stations provided by CPN in Mathare, Kenya. (Centre for Peace and Nationhood photo)

“We are bound together as a community not only through this global pandemic, but through our faith,” says Rick Stiffney, steering committee member of the Global Anabaptist Health Network.

The global network held its first webinar on Sept. 16, which was attended by two dozen Anabaptist-related health professionals from Asia, Africa, North America and the Caribbean.

Webinar addresses Doctrine of Discovery

Participants in a Sept. 29 webinar on the Doctrine of DIscovery are, clockwise from top left: Ted Swartz, owner and director of Ted and Co. TheaterWorks; Michelle Milne, actor with Ted and Co.; Henry Krause of the MC B.C. Indigenous Working Group; and Alison Casella Brookins, playwright of We Own This Now. (Screenshot by Ross W. Muir)

A Sept. 29 webinar helped 260 participants learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery and how a proclamation made more than 500 years ago still has repercussions for Indigenous peoples today. 

‘Be bold! Make yourselves known!’

Steven Giugovaz, pastoral intern at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta., is pictured with his wife Emily and their children Luka, Walter and Lahna. (Photo courtesy of Steven Giugovaz)

Giugovaz is not a Mennonite name, but Steven Giugovaz is definitely an Anabaptist. Son of immigrants from Italy and with a Croatian heritage, he has been on a journey that has led him to embracing a Jesus-centred theology whose world isn’t flat, a commitment to peace and an admiration for the early “re-baptizers.”

Women supporting women across borders

Pamela Obonde has worked with women and children in Kenya for the last 17 years. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Pamela Obonde came to Winnipeg from Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2019 to study in the master of arts in peacebuilding and collaborative development program at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba in March, it threatened to foil all her plans.

Minority Mennonites organize a support group

Gabby Martin (left) and Andrea De Avila (right). (Supplied photos. Composite by Betty Avery)

When Gabby Martin mentions that she’s a Mennonite, she’s often met with, “Okay, but where are you from?” Her father is Black and her mother is Syrian; she was adopted by Mennonites. Martin grew up in Langham, Sask., and has been Mennonite her whole life, yet, because of her appearance, it feels like she’s expected to prove it.

Zwiebach from Saint Johanna

Elfrieda Schroeder has become an expert zwiebach maker. (Photo courtesy of Elfrieda Schroder)

My earliest memories of food go back to my childhood in the Chaco, Paraguay, where my family lived from 1947 to 1952. Our family, like the others in our village, were refugees from Ukraine. We had arrived from Germany on the the S.S. Volendam, a Dutch freighter, with nothing but the clothes on our backs.

‘There is always a way’

Pictured from left to right: Grace Ho, Lauren Kong, Michelle Quan and Christen Kong work in the community garden begun by the outreach team of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. The garden became a place of healing and connection in the community. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Christen Kong, 27, was part of the community outreach team at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church when the group started a local butterfly garden to encourage pollinators. Kong marvels at how that small garden project became a “community connector” and a place of healing and wholeness.

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