Last month, a Canadian Mennonite was arrested—for following his conscience. In the tradition of our 16th-century Anabaptist ancestors, civil disobedience was an expected path. But nowadays, we don’t see things so clearly.
Recently, my husband and I sat with friends at a table in an Ethiopian restaurant. As we dipped pieces of injera (sourdough flatbread) into the tasty sauces, we reported on our lives: a new business, a new grandchild, past school experiences, current professional realities.
Consider what happens when people gather around the table:
In the first week I started in this role, a former reader told me she didn’t read Canadian Mennonite anymore because it didn’t have enough joy. Ouch!
I don’t like the cover of today’s issue. I don’t want to see it lying on my coffee table. You probably don’t either. At the top, a large uniformed man wields a whip, as armed soldiers ride toward a house below. Red and yellow flames shoot up in the background.
I like to attend congregational business meetings. Yes, that includes reading my congregation’s annual report booklet. Although I’ve never been a delegate at a churchwide conference, I do like to attend them—or even livestream them. Are you a church nerd too?
Over the past few months I have had the privilege of seeing a whole new side of camps, and this experience has only confirmed and strengthened my belief in the importance of a camp ministry for the broader church.
In January 2017, a TV show drew attention to Mennonites in Canada. The CBC crime series Pure portrayed fictional Mennonite communities in Ontario and Mexico that were running a large illegal drug operation. A Mexican Mennonite drug lord controlled the operation through intimidation and violence.
In the days immediately following our publication of the sexuality statement by Maple View Mennonite Church, several people wrote letters in outrage. Two cancelled their subscriptions. The insert appeared in the Sept. 25, 2017, print edition, and the letters were printed on Oct. 23.
Early last year I decided to give a few dollars to any panhandler I encountered. I made sure to keep loonies, toonies and quarters in my car in case someone approached me while I was stopped at a red light.
A relative of mine sometimes starts out a funny story with the line, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Ah, yes, how things can turn from well-intentioned to humorous! Or much worse.
What are the significant stories in this issue? When I asked this question in the office, the answer came back: “They’re all significant.” This, our Christmas issue, is chock-full of stories to pay attention to—with our prayers and actions.
Two international stories stand out—some good news and some heart-breaking news.
Almost 13 years ago my family said our final goodbye to my mother. Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber lived a full life on two continents, always actively participating in her extended family, church and larger community. I once observed that she and my dad “collected” friends everywhere they went. Our family’s dining room table always had room for guests, planned for or unexpected.
On the weekend of Oct. 13 to 15, Mennonite church delegates and others took part in Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg. More than 400 of us gathered from across the country to consider the direction we, as Mennonite Church Canada, should take in the years to come.
A formative experience for my childhood faith was the reading of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. Set in the fictional land of Narnia, the seven books tell stories of children from our world who are transported to a land of mythical creatures and cosmic struggles.
In the Future Directions conversations, many people expressed a lingering concern that the proposed regional network forming Mennonite Church Canada could cause us, as a church family, to lose a nationwide sense of shared mission and identity. The fear is that each region will be preoccupied with its own local agenda and, therefore, will pull back from connecting with the broader church.
Fourteen months have gone by since the conclusion of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process and the decision congregational delegates made at Assembly 2016. At the end of that seven-year process, a large majority of the delegates voted in favour of “creating space” for congregations to differ from one another when it comes to committed same-sex relationships.
Many of the stories in the pages of this magazine reflect the dreams of the people in our church family. There are stories of successful ministries, families reunited, young voices full of energy and hope. We also read stories of broken relationships, unanticipated outcomes, and of God at work in miraculous, unplanned and unexpected ways.
On my bookshelf sit 19 bound volumes of Canadian Mennonite. I’m looking at Vol. 1, No. 1, published on Sept. 15, 1997. Yes, that means that, come Sept. 15, we will celebrate 20 years of this magazine in its current form.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about missions. The feature in this issue is Part 2 in a series focussing on partnerships between congregations and Witness workers. These workers were sent by Mennonite Church Canada on our behalf, to use their skills and their passions alongside local Christians for the work of God in those unique settings.
Recently I sat in an audience of several hundred Christian communicators and watched the feature film, Silence, by accomplished American director Martin Scorsese.
The movie was released in January, but—movie buffs that we are—my husband and I did not race out to see it in the local theatre. The subject is martyrdom.
As I began writing this, my Twitter and Facebook feeds reported news about a gun attack on an Egyptian bus carrying Coptic Christians. The world gasped and wept—once again. The people of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan struggle with the enormous challenge of caring for thousands of people fleeing violence in their neighbouring homeland. From the West Bank we hear news of more house demolitions.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 2001, are known to be the first generation contending with technology and social media in our personal, professional and relational lives from the start.