The irony couldn’t have been more self-evident. Here were 7,500 modern-day Anabaptists celebrating the beliefs and convictions that hold them together in 65 countries around the world, following on the heels of a troubled assembly of Mennonite Church USA which appeared to be coming apart at the seams over sexuality.
A modern-day wannabe prophet calling himself a “marginal Mennonite” audaciously predicts that this year’s Mennonite World Conference gathering will see a “mass exodus” from that body and maybe the end of the assembly, depending on the outcome of the polarizing sexuality debate at the Mennonite Church USA assembly this month in Kansas City.
“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.
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