Whether you call it Sunday school, faith formation or Christian education, one aspect of a congregation’s life together is how we nurture faith in people of all ages. Last spring, with the coming of the COVID-19 restrictions, many churches saw drastic changes in their faith education programs.
Volume 25 Issue 2
Despite a landmark 2016 peace deal that held the promise of ending more than 50 years of violence in Colombia, Mennonites in South America’s second most populated country report that the conflict that affected more then eight million people—through killings, disappearances, threats and displacement—continues to claim more victims.
Why go to all the trouble of producing a new hymnal? The Gesangbuch commission of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada faced this question in 1961. The 1942 version, it was felt, lacked readability and a variety in tunes. Furthermore, the world of the early 1960s “demanded a broader witness,” with more vocational, youth and gospel songs. The conference needed a unifying hymnal.
At the end of the infamous year 2020, I retired from pastoral ministry. Again. We’ll see if it “takes” this time.
The Buddhist nun looked across the table and asked me if Christians were taught how to practise faith. “Is Christian faith only beliefs that you try to internalize? Or do you do anything to help people more deeply develop themselves?” she asked.
My youngest daughter Ruth can be a little firecracker. We say that she’s sweet and spicy.
Sometimes she can get into a real funk, though, and I can feel lost as to how to help her. I am thankful for my wife, who often sweeps in to save the day when my strategies are failing miserably. Sometimes our strategies work and sometimes they don’t.
As human beings, we’re generally pretty lousy at grace. We long for it in our deepest and truest moments, and we desperately need it, God knows. But we often struggle to receive it. We’d prefer to earn, to justify, to merit. Grace is for the weak, and that’s not us.
Trisha Robinson, left, executive director of the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, New Hamburg, Ont., stands next to Santa and Mrs. Claus outside Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden, where 137 free curbside Christmas dinners were distributed. At least 10 community churches joined in the effort to bring some Christmas cheer to people in the community who were alone for Christmas. (The Wilmot Post photo by Nigel Gordijk)
On Christmas Day, 137 free turkey dinners were served up for people who needed some Christmas cheer in the Wilmot and Wellesley townships of Waterloo Region.
In online Mennonite World Conference (MWC) meetings in mid-November 2020, the Executive Committee approved expansion of MWC’s structure to include new specialized networks.
The need is great. Six thousand people wait for affordable housing in Waterloo Region. Local government is committed to creating 25,000 new housing units in the next five years, but Karen Redman, the regional chair, acknowledged in a Dec. 24, 2020, Kitchener Today article, “I don’t think we can possibly move fast enough . . . in order to do that, we need partners.”
In the early morning of Dec. 25, 2020, still dark and with snow on the ground, a small group of people gathered in front of Yarrow United Mennonite Church to re-enact the first Christmas.
COVID-19 has given Jake Buhler pause to reflect on his family history and how it has been shaped by pandemics.
In 1918, when both the Spanish flu and tuberculosis were wreaking havoc in South Russia, Buhler’s mother Maria was an 11-year-old girl growing up in the Mennonite village of Grigoriewka. She was the second of seven children born to Helena and Heinrich Pauls.
The Three Wise Men check their map in Menno Simons Christian School’s 2020 virtual Christmas production of The Little Drummer Dude. The performers are not identified as per school policy. (Photo: Ann Pan / Menno Simons Christian School)
Are traditional school productions a thing of the past? Or can the authentic experience still be delivered virtually?
On Wednesdays at Conrad Grebel University College, a group of students, faculty, and staff choose to gather in the chapel for a worship service. In light of the pandemic, services have moved online.
RJC High School runs three grade-based programs that focus on interdisciplinary, cross-curricular thinking:
Chris Huebner, associate professor of theology and philosophy, pictured, and his colleagues found ways to enhance online classroom participation at Canadian Mennonite University during the COVID-19 pandemic. Huebner discovered that teaching from the classroom, where he could employ large displays and multiple cameras, allowed both him and his students to read each other’s faces and body language better than when he taught from behind a laptop. (Canadian Mennonite University photo)
People who arrived on the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) campus last fall were greeted by singing, soaring not through the windows of the music wing, but from outside. In order to create a safe environment during COVID-19 but still continue voice lessons, CMU scheduled them outside.
Rockway Mennonite Collegiate student council members celebrate in the school parking lot after staging a pie-in-the-face incentive that helped to raise $25,000 for the school’s annual Christmas Food Drive, one way this small school makes a huge impact, according to the student council’s motivational video shown in the food drive kick-off chapel. (Photo by Jo Scott)
The annual Christmas Food Drive at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate is a big deal. It starts in November with a kick-off chapel and fun incentives. Normally, students collect non-perishable food for the House of Friendship, a local organization that provides Christmas food hampers for people living on low income.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).