Four tributes, two announcements

February 8, 2024 | Editorial | Volume 28 Issue 3
Will Braun | Editor

With this issue, we bid farewell to columnists Ed Olfert, Joshua Penfold and Joon Park. While we are excited to welcome new columnists, the end of existing columns is a loss. Seasons change.

Ed has written about ordinary people, marginal people, broken people and beautiful people, all reflecting the image of God. He has written about welding, coffee shops, family funerals, driving truck and fishing with people who have been in prison. We will miss this combination of gospel and grit.

Joshua’s column grew out of online posts about his five-year plan to read the Old Testament (now complete). His willingness to connect scripture to deeply personal matters—the haunt of immortality, confessed ill-contentment, doubt—has been a great gift to readers.

His column on page 16 provides a particularly fitting conclusion.

Page 13 contains the last of Joon Park’s 12 columns on intercultural church. With courage and spirit, he has offered a clear challenge: no church has an excuse not to integrate people of various cultures. And integration is not about quotas, quesadillas or appearances, but the profound spiritual coming together that is ultimately the work of the Spirit. I have found Joon’s words deeply challenging. He is opening new doors.

May God grant us courage to enter. Joon leaves us with a question: “Are we a church in which visionaries, risk-takers and innovators are welcomed?”

A final farewell goes to our colleague Barb Draper, who is retiring after 23 years, and 549 issues, with CM. In 2001, after about 10 years of teaching English as a second language, Barb said she was “ready for a change.”

She waited to “see what God would provide.” Eventually, she saw CM was hiring a correspondent and an editorial assistant. She applied for the correspondent job and Ron Rempel, editor/publisher at the time, offered her the other position. She said yes, grateful for the “chance to work for the church.”

Contributing to the church through work has always been important to her.

While Barb’s work shifted over the years, the constants were proofreading and serving as books editor.

“A lot of what I did was structure, keeping things in order,” Barb said. This included indexing magazine content and dipping into the database whenever required. Barb also provided a link to the more traditional Mennonite groups and the Mennonite historical organizations.

Barb wrote book reviews (97) and other articles from time to time, including “10 things to know about Mennonites in Canada,” the most read article, by far, on our website.

Having read CM very closely all these years, Barb said, “What was always closest to my heart was stories about other congregations.”

Her wish for CM is simple: “May it continue for a long time.”

Upon Barb’s retirement, Ron Rempel, who hired her originally, said Barb was “definitely the right person for the job!”

Agreed. Thanks for your contribution to the church, Barb.

Finally, I’m eager to announce two upcoming online events. (The first may have passed by the time you get this, but you’ll find a recording at the link below.)

On February 21, we’ll be joined by Maoz Inon, an award-winning Israeli social entrepreneur and peace advocate whose initiatives include the Jesus Trail and Abraham Hostels. Since the murder of his parents by Hamas on October 7, Inon has become a leading voice for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Inon, whose message has drawn the attention of major news outlets, comes to us via his long-time connections to Mennonites. This event will include discussion of action opportunities.

A week later, February 28, you can hear from the authors of The Wall Between: What Jews and Palestinians Don’t Want to Know About Each Other. Raja Khouri is an Palestinian-Canadian and Jeffrey Wilkinson is an American Jew. They speak with uncommon candour and insight about the clash of narratives and the possibilities of change.

For more details, please see

Anabaptist World and Christian Courier are sponsoring the events with us. 

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