Book recommendations from leaders

From Our Leaders

April 6, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 7
Arlyn Friesen Epp | Mennonite Church Canada


The regional churches have identified several key ministry areas which receive nationwide coordination and support from Mennonite Church Canada: International Witness, Indigenous Relations and Climate Action. Most regional churches have volunteer working groups in each of these areas.

CommonWord, in turn, provides resources for these important conversations. Our novels and biographies, introductory references and group studies, histories and personal theses, are available to buy, borrow or access online, and are here to inspire, equip and engage you and your congregation in this work.

I have asked our ministry leaders to offer a title that is important to them and that has helped shaped their work. Perhaps you might want to also check out these resources!

Jeanette Hanson, International Witness director
Alan Kreider’s book The Patient Ferment of the Early Church has opened my eyes to see what has been in front of me the whole time while working the last 30 years in Asia: reliance on relationships, prayer and patiently following Jesus in daily life despite the circumstances.

Kreider writes, “[T]he early church grew despite disincentives, harassment and occasional persecution . . . it grew not by plan but by ferment.”

We have much to learn about a church on the margins without political power or influence! I also recommend viewing Kreider’s Resident but Alien videos for more on this topic.

Jonathan Neufeld, Indigenous Relations coordinator
Randy Woodley invites people to decolonize and indigenize their worldview and practices so they can learn to walk on this earth in a good way. Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth is a book in the format of a daily devotional, inviting people to embrace a sustainable, cooperative, responsible, respectful and honouring relationship with creation.

As I have been absorbing the worldview and invitations from his writings, I am catching the wonder and hope of becoming enculturated into a deep connection and love of people and place—and the long road of shedding the values and priorities of dominant culture.

Sandy Plett, Climate Action coordinator
I think of conversation as the “welcome mat” for those wishing to get involved in responding to the climate crisis. By creating space and learning how to talk about climate issues—and our feelings about them—we have a chance to move from anxiety to action, from feeling overwhelmed to being empowered.

Conversation happens in community, and community is our gateway to collective action. So let’s get talking. A good primer is Katherine Hayhoe’s book Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. Or ask me or your regional working group to lead a “Faithful Climate Conversation” in your church or community.

Please be in touch with CommonWord about these resources and with these staff persons or your regional church working group for ways to engage. We’re on these journeys together.

Arlyn Friesen Epp is the director of CommonWord. The CommonWord team can be reached at

Read more From Our Leaders columns:
What is a Mennonite?
Driving Miss Darcie
Camp really matters
New ventures in faith formation
Embracing diversity

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