Volume 24 Issue 8

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Beyond ourselves 

'You and I can expand our circle of attention...' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

As I write, my household is entering into our fourth week of physical distancing. Facing the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus, my spouse and I sit in a comfortable house, with a dependable supply of food and are thankful for good sanitation. We have books, music and movies. We’re still employed, and we’re connecting digitally with a network of family and friends.

Well rooted, well winged

I have the growing conviction that the canon provides us not only roots, but also wings. Not only is it important to be ‘well-rooted’; it is equally important to be ‘well-winged.’ (Photo: © istock.com/ananaline)

For most of us, the biblical canon with its 66 “books” has always been a given, inherited from the past, our parents and churches. We have not concerned ourselves very much with it, even though we may have heard that the Catholic version of the Bible has more “books” in it than the Protestant version. 

Mennonite resistance

(Photo: Richard Sutton, Kitchener-Waterloo Record/ Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Tourists attempt to photograph boys outside of the Elmira Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse, circa 1970. The boys are using a hand mirror to thwart their efforts. The photo appeared in the local newspaper with the caption “Mennonite Resistance.” After the Second World War, urban Canadians embraced rural tourism.

How broad is salvation?

'God has never been revealed to me by finding answers, but rather through the gentle holding of possibilities.' (Image by Raheel Shakeel/Pixabay)

Someone told me recently that they had been asked to share their faith journey in a Sunday morning church service. The invitation, however, came with an addendum: “Don’t talk about universalism.”

At the end of that conversation, I reached for my phone dictionary for a definition. “Universalism” is “a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved.”

The public good in a time of pandemic

'Societal and governmental responses here and around the world show that people and institutions can change quickly.' (Image by Miroslava Chrienova/Pixabay)

The COVID-19 pandemic feels surreal. Streets of our cities are nearly empty, even at rush hour. Kids are home, schools have gone online, and some workers log in from home after many years of regular commutes to an office. And huge numbers of workers have been laid off. 

Mennonite encounters with contemplative prayer

'...dwell with the Spirit of God in silence, just receiving, being open.' (Image by zefe/Pixabay)

Doug Klassen, who now serves as Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, confessed to a fellow pastor that he couldn’t pray for more than 10 minutes. “I came to a place where I kept running into myself when I was praying,” Klassen recalls of his early days as a youth pastor.

Musician offers online singalong

Singing into an iPad propped on top of a stack of books, Bryan Moyer Suderman leads an online singalong from his home, to help people connect and find encouragement and hope during days of physical distancing. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

“A little bit of yeast makes the whole dough rise . . . you do your part; I’ll do mine,” sings Bryan Moyer Suderman, using his body as a percussion instrument. But instead of singing at a concert or a worship service, the itinerant musician is at home singing into an iPad propped up on a stack of books, doing his part to practise physical distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan health-care professionals reflect on COVID-19

Erik and Cara Epp are shown with their daughter. (Photo courtesy of Cara Epp)

While many people are staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some, like Erik and Cara Epp, continue to work because their jobs are considered essential. The Epps, who live in Rosthern, both work in health care. 

As a pharmacist, Erik divides his workdays between Rosthern’s two pharmacies. 

Mennonite Church Alberta holds virtual AGM

A screen shot of participants at this year’s MC Alberta annual general meeting, held online using the Zoom platform. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

With COVID-19 limiting the ability to connect in person, virtual meetings now seem to be the wave of the future. Mennonite Church Alberta had already been using the Zoom platform to hold small provincial committee meetings online, but when its annual general meeting (AGM) was cancelled, the regional church decided to explore whether a larger meeting with Zoom could work as well.

Nourishing body, mind and spirit

Realizing the interconnectedness of mental health and wellness may be key in coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced Canadians to learn to cope with forced isolation, loss of work and social events, and an uncertain future. For a church community accustomed to weekly worship services and small group gatherings, learning how to maintain a sense of community and foster wellness among members presents an unprecedented challenge.

Grebelites continue in community amid COVID-19 separation

At Grebel, students are craving community connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured, apartment dwellers visit with Grebel’s director of operations, Paul Penner, outside their window, and with the director of student services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr, via video chat. (Photo by Anna Kuepfer)

Most people’s lives have shifted dramatically in the past few weeks, as they grapple with social isolation, educational upheaval, job changes, pandemic preparations and health-care emergencies surrounding COVID-19. Conrad Grebel University College is no different.

COVID-19 has significant impact for MDS

Curtis and Heather Funk of Winkler, Man., work on a house in Marianna, Fla., one of the Mennonite Disaster Service projects now shut down due to COVID-19. (Photo by Paul Hunt)

For Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), COVID-19 has had a significant impact on operations.

It started on March 13, when the organization closed all current projects in locations across the United States due to the coronavirus; there were no projects in operation in Canada. A week later, it suspended all summer programs in both countries.

A story that ‘wanted to be told’

Susanna Compton holds the recently published novel she wrote based on stories she heard during her gap year experience of living and volunteering in Botswana. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Susanna Compton holds a neighbourhood child in the village of Latlhakane, Botswana, where she spent part of her gap year in 2008, an experience that inspired her first published novel, A Grandmother Named Love. (Photo courtesy of Susanna Compton)

After high school, Susanna Compton took a gap year before heading off to university. She turned that experience into her first published book.

Updated history of Mennonites in Canada commissioned

Mennonites in Canada, Volumes 1-3, by FRank H. Epp and T.D. Regehr

The last time a history of Mennonites in Canada was published, it covered the period from 1920 to 1970—the year Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, Canada was converting to the metric system, the federal voting age was lowered to 18, and the October Crisis rocked Quebec.

It was a long time ago, in other words.

Conspicuous absences

"[T]he figure of the absent Christ is not invoked pessimistically with images of abandonment, but instead it is interpreted in continuity with the peaceful, non-possessive and uncoercive character of Jesus."

The Absent Christ is a clearly written and compelling exploration of Anabaptist-Mennonite theology that engages with both historical Anabaptist sources and contemporary political concerns, in order to advance a constructive argument centred on the figure of the empty tomb.

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