Are you finding it hard to smile these days? So much heaviness weighs down on the world. In the face of all that is wrong around us, we strive to be responsible citizens, kind people and faithful followers of Jesus. But sometimes it’s hard to find much good news.
The unmarked graves of several hundred Indigenous children. A deliberate act of violence against a Muslim family out for a stroll. In recent weeks, new reports have again shown how entire groups of people suffered because of their ethnicity or beliefs.
What do city dwellers and farmers have in common? They are all eaters! And, in the Mennonite community, another important characteristic is their shared faith. Yet, despite those commonalities, country and city folk sometimes bring different points of view to the question of how our food is grown.
At the end of a video conferencing call, have you found yourself waving energetically at the screen? It might seem strange to make a goodbye gesture toward a computer, but something tells us that it’s not right to simply make those faces disappear by clicking a button labeled “Leave meeting.”
To the Anabaptist Mennonites and Brethren in Christ around the globe:
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant disruption, pain and loss.
We mourn with those who have lost loved ones and grieve the loss of livelihood for others.
We long to gather freely again, to share a meal, and worship without constraints, because this is who we are: a beloved community.
How can helpful, respectful conversation happen in the church? Who can speak? What are they allowed to say? How can words cause harm? These questions emerge from time to time in response to content in this magazine.
When my family moved to Canada, I was amazed to learn that the Canadian Broadcasting Company ran a reality show featuring—of all things!—books. Each year, the Canada Reads program selects five books it encourages Canadians to read, with each title being championed by a public personality.
“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.
Doris Gascho, pictured in March 2020, was a mentor, pastor and the first woman to serve as conference minister of the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Ontario. 'As we celebrate the leaders who have gone before us, let’s keep finding ways to invite and encourage the gifts of all,' Virginia A. Hostetler writers. (Photo by Janet Bauman)
On March 8, 2021, International Women’s Day, I attended the celebration of life for Doris Gascho, who had died a week before, after many years of serving the church. Doris was a pastor in the mid-80s and early 90s and was the first woman to serve as conference minister of the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Ontario, from 1994 to 1999.
The March 15, 2020, entry in our household calendar reads: “We started COVID-19 social distancing today.”
It’s been one year since the worldwide community began confronting the reality of the latest coronavirus. In the past twelve months, this pandemic has brought confusion, fear, anger, illness, death and more. No need for details—you know what I’m talking about.
The annual congregational meeting is moving along with the usual reports and updates. Then it’s time to discuss next year’s budget. Seeing the dollar amount the congregation will forward to the regional church, a well-intentioned member stands up to ask the question: What are they doing with our money anyway?
Canadians are struggling with the heaviness of this winter. The prospect of several more months with physical gathering restrictions is as depressing as the grey skies of southern Ontario in February. As a society, we have started to squabble, point fingers and shift blame.
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.
Professionals in the field of journalism have sometimes called their news content the “first draft of history.” News reporting pulls together facts—who, what, where, when, why, how—capturing an event, a moment in time. Sometimes the reporting is accompanied by analysis, sometimes by opinion. But the news gathering, and its dissemination, generally happens in a relatively short time period.
The carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” paints a Christmas card picture of the ancient town of the Nativity: sparkling stars lighting quiet streets, a Holy Baby resting in a manger as the townspeople sleep, unaware. That idyllic view was replaced by a fuller perspective when my family moved to Israel in 1996.
As Christmas approaches, many of us are thinking about gifts. The beautifully wrapped packages under the Christmas tree, of course. Also other types of gifts—the kind that we can receive and give at any time of the year. The gifts that require more than a click on a website or a trip to the mall.
Throughout this year, readers may have noticed a regular item appearing in the print version of this magazine: historical photos and vignettes highlighting aspects of 100 years of ministry by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). If you are a saver of old magazines, you might want to pull them out and glance through the Et Cetera section of each issue.
A flurry of online comments on a recent sexual misconduct story, an email from a reader despairing of having meaningful dialogue through letters to the magazine, and my congregation’s first online business meeting—these got me pondering how we, in the church community, struggle to have good conversations.
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked Jesus two thousand years ago. Today, as we read the newspaper, watch YouTube and TV news, listen to the radio, and scroll through social media, we confront that same question. In this time of pandemic, social upheaval and political strife, the distinction between truth and falsehood seems especially nebulous.
Recently the worldwide number of souls lost to the COVID-19 virus surpassed 1 million. Visualizing that large number of lives cut short touches one’s own soul. We, the living, mourn and seek to understand.
Halloween is a few weeks away, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch some horror movies to get into the spirit.
Jon Lebold seals a Mennonite Central Committee relief kit with the help of his son, Jed Lebold. 'Mennonite agencies like MCC and others have found ways to serve people in critical need for a century,' Tobi Thiessen writes. 'They do it with little glitz but a lot of substance.' (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/MCCpeace)
While public conversation swirled in July over the details of WE Charity’s speaker fees and all-expenses-paid trips for donors, my church was having a sermon series on Mennonite Central Committee’s 100 years of service in the name Christ.
The last time my church sang together was March 8, the second Sunday in Lent. Since then, my singing has consisted of one backyard, physically distant, “Happy Birthday” and my lone voice following the congregation’s pre-recorded music on the screen.
Setsuko Nakamura was 13 years old in 1945, the day American forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where she lived.
It is now month five for Canadian communities struggling with the COVID-19 crisis. In this time, we’ve heard many pronouncements by health authorities on what members of the public should and should not do to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus. As it spreads, health experts continue to research and learn, experiment and make recommendations.