It’s a big year for Lutherans—the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. So it struck me as significant that I was invited to present a sermon and serve communion alongside a synod bishop at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s national convention in July.
To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my husband and I canoed on our neighborhood river. Due to extremely low water levels, the first stretch was quite challenging, not unlike some stretches of marriage. This was abundantly clear when the stern yelled, “Draw!” and the bow replied, “What’s a draw?” Immediately after, the canoe lodged on a rock.
Do you recognize this “Mennonite centre”? Mary Ann Cressman, second from left, her husband Menno C., and others stand outside the family’s dry goods store at 82 King Street East, Kitchener, Ont., circa 1905. Mary Ann lost an arm in a buggy accident, but that did not deter her from becoming the “founding mother” of the Mennonite Women’s Missionary Society in Ontario during the First World War.
A few weeks ago, we welcomed our first grandchild into the world. Amid my great joy, I have recently found myself reflecting on the incredible responsibility of raising children. Scripture advises that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).
I have a nagging thought as I sit down to write this article. It’s this: I have no idea what state our world will be in when you read this in a few weeks. Who knows what will happen between now and then?
Why aren’t Mennonites holding federal Liberal government to account?
I have been waiting for the deluge of reader letters and opinion columns expressing shock and disappointment that the current federal Liberal government has announced massive increases in military spending, but the silence is deafening.
I am soon transitioning out of a leadership role with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta. Before this, I was a country rep in Bolivia, and before that a director with Fairview College. I was asked to write an Alberta piece for this space and was told it doesn’t need to be about leadership. Maybe it isn’t. I think it’s about community.
Five hundred years ago, our spiritual ancestors were on the cusp of an extended bloodbath of religious violence. In marked contrast, I just enjoyed a three-hour conversation over coffee. Our time was filled with laughter, joy and mutual sharpening. We parted ways with warm hugs. What a difference half a millennium has made. Thanks be to God!
The intercultural migration of foods is very interesting. My mother-in-law, Helen (Faul) Fadenrecht, who lived in North Dakota, regularly made a recipe she called Bean Sprouts, because that was the primary ingredient. Helen was a good cook, considered one of the best in the community, and her Bean Sprouts dish was unusual and delicious. It became one of her specialties.
Bill Koop sits on a stack of Mennonite history books, leaning against the Fort Garry (Man.) Mennonite Brethren Church sign. Recently deceased Canadian storyteller and broadcaster Stuart McLean wrote in Vinyl Café Turns the Page: “Choosing a hero is a delicate business, one that shouldn’t be undertaken frivolously.
Have you ever wondered about your family traditions? What are they and when did they come to be? That’s been me this summer. Every summer we have our “must do” plans, and my girls go along without question because it’s tradition. This year, it became clear that some of our habits have become family traditions.
National church needs to continue leading the way to reconciliation
The following letter was originally written to Mennonite Church Canada’s Interim Council and is reprinted at the authors’ request.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
While training as a family therapist, I learned the term “emotional cut-off.” It was not a dynamic I was personally familiar with; my particular family tends to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. We are often so closely entwined in each other’s lives that a little more breathing space would be desirable, healthy even. As it suggests, emotional cut-off refers to ruptures in families.
For many years my wife and I raised our family in an older community with many beautiful boulevard trees but very few young families. Despite our best efforts, our neighbours were aloof and at times confrontational, but we loved our little home and the family we were building there.
Catching up on Witness worker reports, I came across an update from Mary Raber, who teaches at the Odessa Theological Seminary in Ukraine, a country continuing to experience turmoil despite the absence of stories in the mainstream news media.
Our family was fortunate enough to see an iceberg this summer near Twillingate, N.L. It was a surreal experience for me. Everything around me paused for a brief transcendent moment, frozen in time, with the ironic exception of the massive spire of ice in front of me. “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” by the 1980s band Modern English began playing in the back of my mind.
One late Friday afternoon when the office was nearly empty, two clean-cut young men showed up at the Mennonite Church Canada reception desk to inquire about pension benefits for their widowed mother. Assuming they were sons of a pastor, the receptionist sent them my way. As chief administrative officer, helping such people out is part of my job.
A year ago, I said goodbye to my job and stepped into an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown, or beyond certainty, as my father would qualify when he spoke of plans, concluding, “Lord willing.” The same acknowledgement comes from our Muslim friends who say inshallah with a similar meaning.
With the arrival of summer, my wife and I have been enjoying more time outside. Our yard contains many different fruit trees, shrubs and grapevines that provide shade, beauty, and a harvest of berries and fruits. The trees and shrubs are easily managed. However, the grapevines are another story.
Edward Beatty, front row right, and John Dennis, behind him, speak with Mennonite girls. Dennis was a young man in 1874 who witnessed the Mennonite immigration to Manitoba. Over the next decades, he observed that the Mennonites were honest, hardworking and trustworthy farmers. By 1922, he was a commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Someone once said to me, “The problem with Christians is they are all mental!”
If I were to give a 14-minute TED Talk in our church context before the restructuring assembly for Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches in October, this is the gist of what I would want to communicate. I would like to ask and give an answer to an important question: What is it that is more important for all of us than our current and necessary restructuring?