The Anabaptist/Mennonite worldwide communion has come a long way since the first Mennonite World Conference some 90 years ago.
That’s right—the mere cost of a cappuccino at Starbucks by 33 of your friends every day for three months provides relief for 1,000 refugees or some 200 families in war-torn Syria.
“Discernment” has been a much-used word and concept in interpreting the Bible over the past number of years. Mainly we have defined it as a working tool to determine what God in the person of Jesus would have us do about difficult issues facing us in the 21st century.
Some significant changes are occurring at Canadian Mennonite.
Disturbing and perplexing is the only way to describe the cut in federal funding for a proven program of ex-prisoner rehabilitation called Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA).
So how are we doing 490 years later?
“Many members are not happy with the direction and general content of the magazine,” writes a Mennonite pastor, in a solicited follow-up note after one of his members cancelled his subscription. The member was unhappy because Canadian Mennonite has put “homosexuality as a priority,” rather than reflecting our church life.
While personally rejuvenated from my four-month sabbatical, I am saddened to come back to a faith community that seems wounded and immobilized with what one of our interim editors, Barb Draper, called a “difficult debate” over sexuality.
Since the 1980s, the Mennonite church has been debating how it should relate to those who are same-sex attracted. It has been a long and difficult debate, and it isn’t over yet. Since 2009, Mennonite Church Canada has been working on how to deal with this contentious issue through the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process.
The dawn of a new year is always alluring to me because there is so much promise. You say goodbye to the year that was. If the previous year was a good one overall, you hope that the new year will be similar. If the previous year was not so great, the new year promises an opportunity to start afresh.
Among other shifting sands in the Mennonite world is how we view our relationship to the state, moving from a stance of a nonviolent witness but not participation, to one of entering its ranks to influence policies for its betterment in the areas of justice, creation care and peacemaking. We are becoming participants, not only witnesses.
Mainstream Mennonites tend to be doers. We have been taught to work hard and take satisfaction from getting things done, whether that is fixing up houses through Mennonite Disaster Service or sending relief kits and food aid through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to places where people are destitute. We like to feel that our hard work is getting results.
In a chapter on “Sabbath” in her book An Altar to the World, Barbara Brown Taylor confesses to “holy envy” of how the Jews practise the Sabbath, beginning with a proper Friday evening Shabbat service and the lighting of two candles, one for each of the Sabbath commandments in Torah, both of which cal
Words, words, words—millions of them filled the Loewen Auditorium during the four days of Assembly at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, earlier this month. Conversations, greetings, drama, spirited singing and good humour made this another inspirational gathering for delegates to the biennial event of Mennonite Church Canada.
Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, has been invited to comment on the complexities of the relationship between Canadian Mennonite and the denomination, in part as a response to Dick Benner’s three-part series of editorials published in September/October, 2013, a series explaining the history, governance and future of this publication.