As Christmas approaches, many of us are thinking about gifts. The beautifully wrapped packages under the Christmas tree, of course. Also other types of gifts—the kind that we can receive and give at any time of the year. The gifts that require more than a click on a website or a trip to the mall.
‘Light,’ by Zoe Fretz, a Grade 8 student at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., who attends Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, also in Kitchener.
‘It Matters,’ by Jaiden Du Plessis. The Grade 9 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘The world has to work as one voice to show that things matter.’
‘The Light,’ by Rayna Pan. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Remember to always look to the light to find hope.’
‘Tree of Hope,’ by Tara Yasemi. The Grade 8 student at Menno Simons Christian School, Calgary, says, ‘Hope is a connection to all these ideas.’
‘Untitled,’ by Emma Martin, a Grade 7 student at Centennial Public School, Waterloo, Ont., who attends Elmira (Ont.) Mennonite Church.
Recently, I read a book that unsettled my sense of hope.
In the early 2000s, I sat in the church office of Pastor Wang in southern China. He was lamenting the fact that 300 people from his congregation had signed up to take baptismal classes during services over the Christmas weekend. I tried to encourage him by saying that that number was beyond a Canadian congregation’s wildest dreams.
The Rosedale Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (also known as Holdeman) is in the community of Crooked Creek, Alta. This photo is from the 1970s, but the community began in 1928 and is located 72 kilometres east of Grand Prairie, Alta. In 2019, this congregation’s membership was 178.
I have a friend. Her name is Samantha (a pseudonym).
I called Samantha last night and invited her to a church service next Sunday. It will be an Eternity service, during which candles are lit for those in our lives who have died. Samantha assured me she would be there.
Advent is the season of waiting for the gift to come. Advent moves into the season of Christmas, which ends at Epiphany, when the Magi—possibly Zoroastrians—famously gave gifts to the infant Jesus.
What do you do when you maybe don’t believe the Bible—or at least a particular part of it?
My grandfather smoked, but I didn’t know it. Grandma didn’t want us to see him smoking and pick up the habit, but they agreed he could continue as long as it was out of sight. I had no idea until years after his passing, when a coworker returned from a smoke break smelling just like grandpa.
When the death of George Floyd sparked race-related demonstrations across North America earlier this year, one of our deacons asked, “What can we do in response to this?”
Milo Penner, 4, looks out the window as a candle lit by his father, Kyle Penner, burns in support of Steinbach's healthcare workers, patients and their families. (Photo by Kyle Penner)
Kyle Penner, a pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, Man., has been lighting candles every evening since mid-November in prayer and solidarity with his community's healthcare workers, patients and their families. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Penner)
A single flame flickered into existence in the window of a home in Steinbach, and now throughout the city—and across the country—candles send warmth to a hurting community.
The weekly church youth group gathering, whether for service, faith discussions or recreational activity, has had to change this fall in the face of COVID-19. B.C. youth leaders are adapting the best they can, trying to keep young people engaged and connected to the church.
Leah Reesor-Keller, newly installed MC Eastern Canada executive minister, speaks from the sanctuary of First Hmong Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., which hosted the physically distanced installation service that was recorded and shared at the regional church’s fall gathering held online. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me . . . I will keep on singing.”
Thanks to a generous donor, Camp Valaqua was able to build two yurts this spring to offer as places to rest and refresh. Next to the Little Red River on the north quarter of the camp’s property in Water Valley, Alta., each yurt has a bunk bed, and pull-out queen bed together with other modest furnishings. Yurt bookings are expected to be available by April 2021. (Photo by Jon Olfert)
A regional church check-in meeting last month gave members a chance to learn how Mennonite Church Alberta is faring.
With the arrival of fall, when in-person meetings were prohibited, MC Alberta leaders decided to host a Zoom check-in for all the churches so communities could connect and hear how things are going.
As with most celebrations during this pandemic, it was a quiet 75th anniversary celebration for St. Catharines United Mennonite Church on Nov. 1. In order to limit social contact, the Sunday services alternate between families and seniors, and this Sunday was a seniors Sunday service. About 86 people attended.
A new anthology published by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada and Mennonite Church Canada hit the press this fall. Be it Resolved: Anabaptists & Partner Coalitions Advocate for Indigenous Justice, 1966-2020 is a collection of more than 90 documents detailing commitments Anabaptists have made to Indigenous justice and decolonization since the 1960s.
For many of us, sitting around the table with extended family is a very important part of our Christmas celebration. In my family of origin, the traditional menu included turkey and dressing, while dessert was always iced sugar cookies and fruit salad with cubes of red and green Jell-O. I’m sure each family has its own well-worn food customs.
Before his death in November 2019, John Regehr of Winnipeg said he wanted to start a discussion about death and dying.
Regehr, 93, a former Canadian Mennonite Brethren pastor and professor at Mennonite Brethren Bible College (a founding college of Canadian Mennonite University), did just that when he chose to die using medical assistance in dying (MAID).