Recently, our congregation discovered Facebook. “Discovered” isn’t quite the right word, of course, since many of us were already part of the online community reputed to have a mind-boggling billion users around the globe.
Out of the many discussions at Canadian Mennonite’s annual board meeting recently in Lethbridge, Alta., came the call, once again, for some clarification on two issues: “Whose voice is Canadian Mennonite’s?” and, “Do we print all the letters to the editor?”
While the Mennonite faith community has sometimes been contentiously consumed over the past two decades with one aspect of sexuality—homosexuality and same-sex marriage—another darker side has quietly escaped our notice: sexual abuse of women and children.
In her “Mennonites have a long history of environmental activism” letter to the editor on page 12, Joanne Moyer questions whether it was fair to hold Menno Simons to account for a lack of concern for climate change and broader concerns of the earth.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
“The fossil fuel industry is the richest and most arrogant industry the world has ever seen,” charges Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, and referenced by Will Braun in our lead feature “Crossing the (pipe) line” on page 4. The five largest oil companies alone made $137 billion in profits last year, according to the Sierra Club.
As one year ends and another begins, the pundits package the highlights of the past and out of that attempt to project something of what lies ahead. It’s as if time stands still for a brief moment while we catch our breath for reflection, a search for some meaning.
While I appreciate the widespread support for Canadian Mennonite when we broke the story in our last edition regarding Canada Revenue Agency reminding us about “political partisanship” cited in two editorials and four articles, I want to clarify and correct some misinformation reported by the public media.
When I received a registered letter from Canada Revenue Agency reminding me, as editor, of limitations on registered charities regarding partisan political activities, I took it personally.
Just as Carol Penner, in our lead article calling us to account on Remembrance Day, persuasively makes the case that killing is killing even though it is “once removed,” so does much of our engagement as “Ceasar’s citizens” keep us distanced from the grim realities of injustice in our world.
"Give thanks in all circumstances, counsels the Apostle Paul to the new Christians at Thessalonica in ancient Greece, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Henry Paetkau left his position as president of Conrad Grebel University College last year and entered into a new phase of life, which was not quite retirement, but left him wondering about his role and identity. He is now employed as area church minister for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.
There is something eerily sad about summer coming to an end. One difference with living in Canada is somewhat more satisfying and uplifting than living in warmer climes—the warmth of the summer months seems to re-charge the human spirit, get one in touch with nature and families and unwind from the demands of a whirling, electronic-driven world.
It is much too easy in these days of self-examination as Anabaptist Christians in the 21st century to punish ourselves for colossal blunders when “spreading the gospel” here and around the world in the last century.
There may be good reason why we, the Mennonites, are not joining the United Church of Canada, the Anglican bishops and 28 Presbyterian churches in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland in a protest against the Northern Gateway oil-sands pipeline.
It’s difficult to pinpoint just what made Assembly 2012 in Vancouver earlier this month a standout. Its rich textured fabric made it a many-splendored thing that made you want to dance despite the heavy theme of “Dusting off the Bible for the 21st Century.”
Dusting off the Bible we did. 21st Century it was.
“Gift discernment,” as practised in many of our congregations, is neither. This sometimes agonizing ritual of finding enough willing members to fill the slots needed to keep the faith community functioning on an annual basis is often an arduous task for those assigned to find those volunteer bodies.
“Discernment,” a word in vogue right now among church leaders and theologians, can seem abstract, almost pedantic, and elusive as an operative term for the person in the pew. We seem to use it a lot these days as we wend our way through issues that confront us as followers of Jesus in the 21st century.
Dusting off our Bibles for assembly?
If indeed they are dusty, something has gone wrong for the people of the Book.
His voice was anxious. Member of Parliament Paul Calandra was on the other end of the line. From his office in Ottawa, he seemed uncomfortable with the interview, hesitating, from time to time, to answer my questions. There were several mixed messages.
Are our Mennonite institutions an endangered species? Are they headed for extinction in this post-Christian era when the emphasis seems to be more on “spiritual” than “religious”?
Springtime was in full theatre as we travelled back from Virginia on a Sunday morning recently after a week’s break. Viewing the redbud, dogwood and lilacs providing the backdrop for lush green meadows was as much worship as meeting with the saints in song, scripture and sermon. We turned off the radio and drove in silence, soaking in all the beauty.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).