Bethlehem Bible College sits within walking distance of the birthplace of Jesus and about 200 metres from the eight-metre-high concrete wall that hems in Palestinians such as those who lead and attend the college.
A woman runs past graffiti on the wall that divides Bethlehem from Israel. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College)
Munther Isaac recently published a book that confronts a longstanding problem in Christian attitudes toward the Holy Land—ignorance, indifference and even hostility to the Palestinian church. Isaac is an Oxford-educated, Palestinian Lutheran pastor who serves as academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College.
I’ve probably preached half a dozen sermons on “Doubting Thomas” over the last decade or so. Thomas shows up faithfully in the lectionary readings each year after Easter Sunday. Thomas, the recalcitrant empiricist.
Vern Ratzlaff, centre, worked much of his life within Mennonite institutions in western Canada and internationally, serving as a church pastor, Bible school teacher and radio preacher. From 1982 to 1987, Vern and his wife Helen served as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representatives in Egypt.
Christmas is a difficult season for many people, myself included. As a Christian, I “should” be celebrating the birth of Jesus. The angels sing of “great joy” as the lowly and the mighty come to bend the knee at the crude bedside of the baby. The Incarnation is what makes Christianity profoundly different from all other religions.
As I read through the accounts of the kings in the Bible, Uzziah’s story doesn’t strike me as being overly unique. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, at least for a while. Eventually, his own power and pride did him in. He overstepped, and it cost him.
Christian Palestinians have asked the global church to stand with them, and Mennonites in Canada have now asked their government to do the same.
This image—entitled “Before Grace”—and the one opposite—entitled “Endless Cycle”—tell of artist Lynda Toews’ experience growing up in a violent home. They were part of the exhibit, ‘Breaking the Silence on Domestic Abuse,’ at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery a year ago. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Toews)
Research shows that rates of domestic abuse are just as prevalent in religious communities, and even higher in more conservative forms of religion, says Val Peters Hiebert, assistant coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba’s Abuse Response and Prevention Program, which helps congregations navigate disclosures of abuse and cases of sexual misconduct by clergy.
Geraldine Balzer, a member of Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, was elected moderator of Mennonite Church Canada in July, replacing Calvin Quan, who served in the role for six years. We asked her to share about her life and vision. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Emily Summach: Where did you grow up?