Volume 26, Number 7
Volume 25, Number 7
Greening the church
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psa. 24:1) a congregation declares in its worship service.
Avoiding an environmental shipwreck
It’s as if we are on a ship heading straight for the rocks in spite of warning buoys, lighthouses or even the jagged shoreline looming ahead. Individual efforts seem insignificant, a choice between rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and trying to turn the ship with our bare hands. (Photo by Wollox / Creative Commons Licence (bit.ly/3rLhdz4))
The shipwreck of the SS American Star on the shore of Fuerte-ventura, one of the Canary Islands. (Photo: By Wollox / Creative Commons Licence (bit.ly/3rLhdz4))
When considering how to act against the damage of climate change, too often the focus has been only on the economic reality (i.e. Can a profit be made?), while ignoring the effects on environmental and social systems. But true sustainability only occurs at the place where all three spheres overlap. (Graphic by Betty Avery)
Every time you walk into the church building, that threadbare carpet stares up at you. Everyone agrees it’s time for a change, but how do you replace a worn-out carpet without destroying the planet?
Readers write: March 29, 2021 issue
‘Rooted in Christ, reaching out in love’
COVID-19 has forced most of us to embrace that most rousing of Anabaptist virtues: simplicity. Our lives have been simplified, stripped down to the essentials. We have gone out only when needed, we have bought only what we must, we have travelled only when there was no other choice.
Nothing says “occasion” like a panoramic group photograph. Pictured, Sharon Mennonite Church in Guernsey, Sask., commemorates its 50th anniversary in 1955. The congregation consisted primarily of Mennonite settlers from the Waterloo, Ont., region. The special panoramic camera brought from Saskatoon was sharp enough to keep the entire crowd in focus.
Jean Vanier. Ravi Zacharias. John Howard Yoder. We add to this list in our own Canadian Mennonite church community every year. My Lenten reading in March was from Matthew 23, where Jesus chastises faith leaders who do not practise what they teach and who tie heavy burdens on the shoulders of others.
Cave of emptiness
I spend at least 30 minutes a day in silent prayer and meditation, but sometimes this isn’t enough. A few times a year I need a fuller and deeper experience of silence. I need solitude.
Paul Tillich says, “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone, and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
What would Jesus think about factory farms?
Calves are taken away moments after birth and placed in veal crates. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)
Egg-laying hens are confined in battery cages on a factory farm. (Animal Equality photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)
In Genesis 9:3, God says to Noah: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” But when God declared this, did he have factory farms in mind?
Allowing God’s light to shine ‘out of us’
During a memorial service held as part of MC Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions, Kirsten Hamm-Epp lights a candle for three congregations that, in 2020, made the difficult decision to close. Superb Mennonite closed in May 2020. Hanley Mennonite and Zoar Mennonite in Waldheim will close in 2021. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)
“We hear God’s voice from a place of knowing who we are,” said Kirsten Hamm-Epp. In her meditation that opened Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions, the regional church minister talked about how Mary heard God’s voice and responded.
Reimagining Assembly 17
Following the decision to offer the 2022 Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly in Indonesia as a hybrid event, the Program Committee members and assembly staff are now re-imagining the event and its additional online opportunities.
MC Manitoba looks to the future amid a pandemic
Rick Neufeld, MC Manitoba’s director of leadership ministry, gave his report from the ice. A lively hockey team debate ensued in the Zoom chat room! (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)
MC Manitoba’s annual gathering began with the installation of Michael Pahl, right, as the regional church’s new executive minister. Also pictured, left to right: Doug Klassen, executive minister of MC Canada; Gerald Gerbrandt, moderator of MC Manitoba; and Lisa Bueckert, church council chair of Morden Mennonite Church. (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)
Mennonite Church Manitoba’s 74th annual gathering was confined to screens this year due to the ongoing pandemic, but reports of the regional church’s work came from all over the province, like a small-town ice rink and the Camp Assiniboia lodge.
A life-altering gospel and simple faith
Jeanette Hanson, director of International Witness, left, and Norm Dyck, MC Eastern Canada mission minister.
Over Zoom, Norm Dyck shares a photo of a church-planting map from the Nazareth-Adama region of Ethiopia. At the top is the mother church established in 1948 with the help of Mennonite mission workers.
Chin congregation celebrates 10th anniversary, opening of new building
“God is so good to us,” said Pastor Leng Nawn Thang excitedly as he spoke about all the ways God has taken care of Calgary Chin Christian Church, a member of Mennonite Church Alberta, over the last 10 years. “When we came to Canada, we asked, ‘How can we sing a new song in a strange land?’ Now we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary and the grand opening of our new church building!”
Meet MC Canada’s Sustainability Leadership Group
Mennonite Church Canada is committing to improve the sustainability of its programs and ministries.
Race explored in 2021 Bechtel Lecture
Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely perform ‘This Little Light of Mine’ as part of the Bechtel Lecture on blackness and whiteness in Anabaptist print and mission. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
This year’s virtual Bechtel Lecture, “Blackness, whiteness and the Anabaptist ‘imagined community’ in print and mission,” featured two speakers:
Diana Braithwaite, an accomplished blues, gospel and jazz performer, and founder and director of the Rella Braithwaite Black History Foundation, where she researches, preserves and shares the story of Blacks in Canada.
A dehydrator and a dream
A variety of vegetables grown around Coffee for Peace’s coffee farm. From her visit to Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church and the local Southwestern Ontario Gleaners facility a few years ago, Joji Pantoja got the idea that a vegetable dehydrator could reduce waste, help feed the hungry following natural disasters, and provide additional income for her and her husband’s PeaceBuilders Community ministry. (Coffee for Peace photo)
When the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago, global food security networks were put to the test. In the Philippines, where Dann and Joji Pantoja serve as Mennonite Church Canada International Witness workers, the people in the city were suddenly cut off from their food supply as the country locked down.
‘Making plans, but holding them lightly’
As the academic year draws to a close, students and staff at Columbia Bible College are reflecting on how the college has successfully navigated offering in-person learning despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These have included reduced class sizes, mask fatigue, teaching behind plexiglass, and keeping resident and commuter students apart.
Remembering John H. Neufeld
John H. Neufeld died on Jan. 11, 2021, after a life of serving the church in numerous places and in various roles. Born in Winnipeg, he lived and served in British Columbia, where he directed a camp and taught school at various grade levels over the years.