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.
“All politics is local,” is one of the enduring lines of political wisdom uttered by the salty, outspoken U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, the late Tip O’Neill, nearly three decades ago—a line that seems to be gaining momentum in the 21st century. And it applies to more than politics.
They are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults, less religious—while claiming to be spiritual— less likely to have served in the military and are on track to become the most educated generation in North American history.
His passion for creation care was palatable, his enthusiasm infectious, his words direct but searing the silence. His stature was not imposing, his voice not booming and bouncing off the walls, but as he spoke his words not only reached beyond the abstractions that sometimes cloud things “environmental,” but his spirit touched ours with an almost magical resonance.
A letter writer in this issue questions the practice of yoga and doing labyrinths and other types of what she calls “non-biblical meditation and prayer.”
“Are these practices of the Bible?” Angela Harder asks rhetorically. “Did Jesus teach us to do these things?
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to [all] on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14) will be read and re-read in our places of worship this Advent season as well as sung with gusto, sometimes glibly, to the words of Henry Longfellow: “I heard the bells on Christmas Day.”
Donna Schulz, new regional correpondent for Saskatchewan. She lives in Rosthern and can be reached at 306-232-4733 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Canadian Mennonite is the glue that holds Mennonite Church Canada together,” Larry Cornies, a journalism professor and former chair of this publication’s board of directors, told our staff and regional correspondents during a two-day workshop held last month at our Waterloo, Ont., office.
The local newspaper editor called it a soap opera. The local Member of Parliament tried to make the spokespersons for the historic peace churches lone fringe persons in a celebration of the War of 1812, speaking only for themselves and not for the members of the several Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Friends (Quaker) churches in Stouffville, Ontario.
Robert J. (Jack) Suderman flinches every time I, or anyone representing Canadian Mennonite, uses the word “independent” to describe who we are as a publication. The characterization apparently grates on his pastoral instincts to think, even for a passing moment, that we are not an integral part of the “body of Christ” as it is expressed in the institution of Mennonite Church Canada.
The year was 1953. Mennonites scattered across Canada were a disparate group, having come to this land of freedom in several migrations from Europe, the first of which was of Swiss-German origin from the German Palatinate coming from Pennsylvania and settling in what was to become the Niagara Region of Ontario as early as 1786.
Two stories on sexual abuse have re-emerged recently on the Mennonite scene that call for sober reflection and some self-examination, but not self-obsession. They should be seen, in the present, as “teachable moments” and occasions for healing, rather than harsh judgments on the sins of our fathers.