Born Again and Again: Jesus’ Call to Radical Transformation. Megan K. Westra. Herald Press, 2020, 226 pages.
Westra examines the meaning of salvation, calling for radical transformation of life rather than praying the sinner’s prayer. She discusses the Christian approach to such things as race and gender, politics, finances and attitudes toward creation.
Faith Talk: A Spiritual Memoir Inviting Reflection and Dialogue. Ruth Naylor. Self-published with WestBow Press, 2019, 216 pages.
Naylor was raised in the Quaker tradition, married a Mennonite, and later became one of the early female pastors in Mennonite Church U.S.A. Writing in an engaging style, she reflects on her life and how she was guided through the Holy Spirit and her prayers. Questions at the end of each chapter encourage the reader to engage in personal reflection.
Jesus of the East: Reclaiming the Gospel for the Wounded. Phuc Luu. Herald Press, 2020, 256 pages.
Born in Vietnam but raised in the United States, this author critiques western Christianity. He argues that for centuries the western church has been a tool of government, oppressing the poor and spiritualizing faith, so that Jesus’ message of peace and justice has been lost. He says we should pay more attention to the eastern church fathers.
Liberating the Politics of Jesus: Renewing Peace Theology Through the Wisdom of Women. Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Darryl W. Stephens, eds. T&T Clark and Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2020, 288 pages.
This collection of essays explores Mennonite theology and practice from a woman’s perspective, considering racial and gender justice. The writers want to move beyond the theology of John Howard Yoder, especially in light of his sexual misconduct.
Might From the Margins: The Gospel’s Power to Turn the Tables on Injustice. Dennis R. Edwards. Herald Press, 2020, 224 pages.
Edwards writes with passion about his experiences in the church and analyzes systemic injustice, racism and power. He believes the gospel can give power to the marginalized.
Reconnect: Spiritual Restoration from Digital Distraction. Ed Cyzewski. Herald Press, 2020, 256 pages.
Finding himself virtually addicted to his social-media feed, the author researched the influence of digital technology and found these platforms are designed to keep us hooked. He provides suggestions for setting digital boundaries and deepening our spirituality. A helpful four-session discussion guide is available as a free download from Herald Press.
Recovering from the Anabaptist Vision: New Essays in Anabaptist Identity and Theological Method. Laura Schmidt Roberts, Paul Martens, Myron A. Penner, eds. T&T Clark and Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2020, 189 pages.
For many decades there was a prominent school of Anabaptist theology—the Anabaptist Vision of Harold Bender and John Howard Yoder. Today’s theologians are offering an alternative Anbaptist identity. Several of the theologians in this collection are Canadians.
Suffering the Truth: Occasional Sermons and Reflections. Chris K. Huebner. CMU Press, 2020, 111 pages.
The sermons in this collection are structured around the Christian liturgical calendar. Huebner is associate professor of philosophy and theology at Canadian Mennonite University.
This is God’s Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls. Anna Woofenden. Herald Press, 2020, 272 pages.
Looking for a new way to do church, the author began the Garden Church in an empty lot in Los Angeles. This church plant connects faith and food, worshipping outdoors, growing food and eating together regularly. Woofenden grew up in the Swedenborgian denomination but believes in the importance of ecumenical Christianity.
Wandering the Wilderness: A Guide for Weary Wanderers and Searching Skeptics. Ray R. Friesen. Self-published with FriesenPress, 2020, 332 pages.
Using a storytelling approach, this semi-retired Mennonite pastor examines the hard questions of life with honesty and integrity. With a 21st century spirituality, he reflects on how his understanding of Christianity is different from the conservative fundamentalism of his childhood and how his journey with cancer influenced his perspective.
The Widow and the Judge—Memory, Resistance and Hope: Intercultural Reading of Luke 18:1-8 in Latin American Contexts of Impunity. Hans de Wit and Edgar Antonio Lopez, eds. Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2020.
This is the fifth and final volume of the Intercultural Biblical Hermeneutics series of the Institute of Mennonite Studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. This book looks at how groups in Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia understand the parable of the persistent widow.
Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love and Deliverance. Drew G.I. Hart. Herald Press, 2020, 276 pages.
Using Scripture and personal stories, Hart calls the church to bring justice to their neighbourhoods. The author teaches at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. He also wrote, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism.
Makhno and Memory: Anarchist and Mennonite Narratives of Ukraine’s Civil War, 1917-1921. Sean Patterson. University of Manitoba Press, 2020, 216 pages.
Mennonites remember Nestor Makhno as a vicious terrorist who perpetrated unspeakable violence, while to some Ukrainians he is a hero who liberated peasants from capitalist exploitation. Patterson looks at the literature from both sides to find a human figure who fits neither description. The book also includes a close look at the Eichenfeld massacre.
Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890-1940. Susie Fisher, ed. Mennonite Historic Arts Committee, 2020, 92 pages.
This book of historic photographs shows Mennonite life in southern Manitoba 100 years ago. It features photos by Peter G. Hamm, Peter H. Klippenstein, Johann E. Funk and Heinrich D. Fast.
Taufer: Von der Reformation ins 21. Jahrhundert. Astrid von Schlachta. Available at www.narr.de, 2020, 432 pages.
The director of the Mennonite Research Centre at Weierhof, Germany, has put together this overview of Mennonite history from the Reformation to the 21st century. The book considers what this history means for the church today. It is available in paperback and ebook but is only available in the German language.
Where the People Go: Community, Generosity and the Story of Everence. John D. Roth. Herald Press, 2020, 288 pages.
John D. Roth, professor of history at Goshen College, writes about Mennonite Mutual Aid, now known as Everence. Roth tells the story of its growth from a small aid plan to a large institution that provides health and other insurance, as well as adding a charitable foundation and credit union. Changes in how mutual aid is offered mirror changes in the church.
Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities. Edward C. Valandra, Waŋbli Wapháha Hokšíla, eds. Living Justice Press, 2020, 440 pages.
Johonna Turner, professor of restorative justice and peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, is one of the contributors to this collection of essays calling for racial justice.
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World. Michael T. McRay. Herald Press, 2020, 256 pages.
McRay travelled to places of conflict around the world, including Palestine, South Africa and Northern Ireland, to collect personal stories from peacebuilders and former combatants. These stories of justice and reconciliation have something to say to our divided world.
Making Believe: Questions About Mennonites and Art. Magdalene Redekop. University of Manitoba Press, 2020, 425 pages.
Redekop, a retired professor of English at the University of Toronto, examines what she calls the renaissance of Mennonite art since the 1980s, especially in southern Manitoba. She frames these discussions in light of her own upbringing in southern Manitoba in a Mennonite culture steeped in Low German.
Making Waves: Fifty Stories about Sharing Love and Changing the World. Judy Clemens. Herald Press, 2020, 276 pages.
These 50 true stories about peacemaking from the past and present are designed for children aged 9-12.
The Millennial Mosaic: How Pluralism and Choice are Shaping Canadian Youth and the Future of Canada. Reginald Bibby, Joel Thiessen and Monetta Bailey. Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2019, 348 pages.
Using national surveys done in 2015 and 2016, three Canadian sociologists take a close look at the Millennial generation, those born between 1985 and 2005, and compare them to Pre-Boomers, Baby Boomers and Generation X. In examining Millennial attitudes toward religion and spirituality, they find this generation embracing choice rather than simply following the teachings of their parents.
The Minister’s Wife: A Memoir of Faith, Doubt, Friendship, Loneliness, Forgiveness and More. Karen Stiller. Tyndale House Publishers, 2020,
This spiritual memoir gives a wry and humorous look at the experiences of a minister’s wife in today’s world. Karen Stiller is a writer and editor for Faith Today.
My Mother: The Story of a Courageous Woman. Helmut Lemke. Privately published, 2020, 120 pages.
Helmut Lemke’s mother grew up in West Prussia, where she survived two horrible wars and Hitler’s dictatorship. She later joined her children in Canada. The book is part biography, part Mennonite history. It is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once Removed. Andrew Unger. Turnstone Press, 2020, 275 pages.
Using wit and humour, this novel, set in a small town in Mennonite country in southern Manitoba, explores themes of progress and preserving the past. Unger is also the author of the “The Daily Bonnet,” a satirical website that pokes fun at Mennonite foibles.
Only say the Word: Poems and Paintings. Daryl Culp. Privately published, 2020, 48 pages.
This collection of illustrated poems explores spiritual themes relating to travel, Christian holidays and other experiences. The longest poem reflects on the author’s Mennonite heritage. The book is available from Amazon.
Sustainable Kitchen: Recipes and Inspiration for Plant-Based, Planet-conscious Meals. Jaynie McCloskey and Heather Wolfe. Herald Press, 2020, 226 pages.
This cookbook, with many colourful photos, has a variety of vegetarian recipes with vegan options, as well as tips for meal planning, preserving, decreasing waste and conserving energy.
When the Center Does Not Hold: Leading in an Age of Polarization. David R. Brubaker. Fortress Press, 2019, 175 pages.
David Brubaker of Eastern Mennonite University, together with three colleagues, examines the role of polarization in conflict. The book is designed to help leaders in congregations and other settings deal with conflict.
The Jesus Way: Small Books of Radical Faith series.
These small books of approximately 120 pages, published by Herald Press in 2020, are designed for five or six sessions and come with questions for reflection and discussion. Individuals and study groups in the church should find them to be helpful theological resources.
- What Does Justice Look Like and Why Does God Care about It? By Judith and Colin McCartney.
- What Is God’s Mission in the World and How Do We Join It? By Juan F. Martinez.
- What Is the Church and Why Does It Exist? By David Fitch.
- What Is the Trinity and Why Does It Matter? By Steve Dancause.
- Who Are Our Enemies and How Do We Love Them? By Hyung Jin Kim Sun.
- Why Do We Suffer and Where is God When We Do? By Valerie G. Rempel.
“Mental Health Resource for Congregations” from the Anabaptist Disabilities Network, 2020, 9 pages
This document provides suggestions for understanding mental illness and how congregations can include and support those who are struggling. It provides practical tips of when to refer someone to a professional and suggests further resources.
Racism/Anti-racism resources for congregations:
- From MC Canada/CommonWord:
- From MC USA:
Podcast: “-ingPodcast: Leading, Growing, Being.”
This new podcast explores how people of faith are leading, growing, and being as people of God. It is a produced by Ben Wideman for MennoMedia and is available on various podcast platforms.
Many of the featured titles on the book list are available for purchase or to borrow from CommonWord Book Store and Resource Centre in Winnipeg. For more information, visit commonword.ca or call 204-594-0527 or 1-877-846-1593.
Further reading from our Fall 2020 Focus on Books & Resources:
New hymnal will be ‘part of the fabric of our lives’
COVID clean-up leads to inspiring discovery
‘The Daily Bonnet’ creator publishes book
Living at ‘home together’
Pastor channels love of stories into children’s books