Do I see a hand?

Photo by Alex Woods/Unsplash

I was sitting on Dave Scott’s porch on the Swan Lake First Nation a few years back when he started talking about a handshake treaty between his Ojibwe ancestors and Mennonites.

I had never heard of this. Later, I discovered no Mennonite historians had either.

Brave birds still fly through fog

Kathryn Lymburner. (Supplied photo.)

The other Sunday, the chairs in our sanctuary were pulled up to round tables. You know you’re in for something different when that happens, and this extrovert with opinions to spare was pumped. I was going to share the heck out of whatever needed sharing. I couldn’t contain my glee when I discovered there were news stories at each table. Best Sunday ever.

Survey says . . .

(Pixabay photo by Adrian)

Starting in April, this magazine will be printed 12 times per year instead of 22. Many readers encouraged the change.

In the Canadian Mennonite (CM) survey, carried out from July to October, we heard from nearly 350 people.

In addition, CM board members and I spoke directly with pastors, church leaders and others across the country.

What kind of peace church are we?

After weeks of bombardment, Palestinians head to the southern part of the Gaza Strip on November 9. The UN says 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced since October 7. (Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun/Active Stills)

As Israel obliterates Gaza, and hostages await sunlight, it’s easy to look away. Indeed, sometimes we must. Not everyone can take every war to heart. But this war demands something of us collectively.

Mennonite Church Canada issued a brief statement on November 2, calling churches to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia in Canada and pray for a “just peace” in the Middle East.

Call and promise

Kohlrabi in the Wiederkehrs root cellar. (Photo courtesy of Theo Wiederkehr)

“I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”

This is God’s beautiful promise in Jeremiah. Indeed, we need shepherds after God’s heart.

Hold tenderly to death

(Photo by Aaron Epp)

The day before writing this marked three years since my sister died of cancer. We gathered as a family at her grave to mark the occasion. We talked about the day she died, things that remind us of her and how proud she would be of the two young boys who will always be her sons.

God have mercy on the Middle East

A building used by the Near East Council of Churches, a partner of the Mennonite Central Committee in the Gaza Strip. The building was damaged by the Israeli bombardment. October 13, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Neart East Council of Churches (via MCC))

As we prepare to send this peace-themed issue of the magazine to press, all eyes are on Gaza. Israeli tanks sit poised at its northern border, ready to invade. Long lines of transport trucks laden with aid sit at its southern border, as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds. The people of Gaza, mostly civilians, sit in between—cut off, trapped, at the mercy of outside forces.

Tell us what you think

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

Have you completed our opinion survey? If not, here is your invitation to do so. We need your help to re-think how Canadian Mennonite (CM) can best serve the church. Please use the link below.

CM is actively researching new ways to gather and deliver news. We are looking at various options to engage our community in conversations about faith.

Birding with Alvin

‘I’m still learning all the time,’ says birder Alvin Dyck, pictured at Oak Hammock Marsh near Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

I don’t get out much.

That’s true for my personal life. My wife and I are homebodies and we jokingly refer to ourselves as “indoor kids”—a nod to the kind of children who choose watching TV or reading a book over getting outside and running around.

Of beets and chainsaws

(Photo by Will Braun)

If integrity is the currency of change, the Wiederkehr family of Mildmay, Ontario should have a chunk of change to spend.

In a world of compromise, greenwashing and homesteaders Instagramming their idealism, the Wiederkehrs have done far more than most to actually extract themselves from the consumerist machine that treats earth as waste bin and soul as credit card.

The poofy blue MCC couch

Not *the* poofy blue couch, but *a* poofy blue couch. (Photo by Giacomo Carra/Unsplash)

When I worked at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) office in Winnipeg 20 years ago, I took pride in showing up early. Occasionally I even arrived before Norm, the custodian, who turned the lights on at 7 a.m.

Sometimes, I was also the last to leave.

I was doing advocacy with a Cree community and there was no shortage of passion or work.

The duty of tension

Maxime Bernier, former Conservative cabinet minister from Quebec, and now leader of the People’s Party of Canada—ran in the federal by-election in southern Manitoba, basing his campaign in the heart of Mennonite country. This image is from a June 10 rally in Winkler, where the big-city francophone politician has won the hearts of a suprising number of Mennonites. (Photo by Will Braun)

I did not plan to write about polarization—I’ve filled my quota on that topic—until Maxime Bernier held a rally near my home. Bernier leads the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and may be the most prominent populist politician in the country. I couldn’t resist the chance to cross the political divide.

How I almost bought a Tesla

The Tesla that tempted me. (Photos from Kijiji post, compilation by Betty Avery)

I came closer than I’d like to admit.

Three weeks before a family road trip to Ontario, our ex-Hutterite mechanic gave our 2004 Jetta wagon the death sentence. The ensuing car search turned into a troubling family crash course in the psychology of real-life environmental ethics.

In-house acknowledgment

A selection of covers designed by Ross W. Muir, managing editor of Canadian Mennonite from 2005-2023, that feature his own photography. (Collage designed by Betty Avery)

With this issue of Canadian Mennonite, Ross W. Muir completes his time with the magazine. As managing editor for almost 18 years, he has undertaken a central piece of the work required to put the magazine together every two weeks.

A centuries-old offer of peace

Jonathan Neufeld is the Indigenous relations coordinator for Mennonite Church Canada.

During the Papal visit to Canada in the summer of 2022, observers and news-watchers likely caught glimpses of banners and heard chants to reject or repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. For some, this may have been a first introduction to the Doctrine; for others it represented decades of work to bring the Doctrine out of the shadows and into the light.

Do we dare to succeed?

'I hear and feel two different narratives—one about keeping the doors open and another about bursting out of the doors on a mission.' (Photo by Manuel Hodel/Unsplash)

“I am convinced more so now than ever before that every neighbourhood deserves a Jesus-centred, disciple-making peace presence.” Norm Dyck starts the 2022 Church Planting Resource from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada with that conviction.

No shortcut to Easter

A mural in San Salvador shows Oscar Romero surrounded by peasants. (Photo by Will Braun)

It’s not easy to come up with fresh, new material for Easter, so we dug up something nearly 500 years old instead. We’re putting the “Menno” in Canadian Mennonite, literally—the original Menno.


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