From our leaders

I’m thinking about sparrows

(Image by Oldiefan/Pixabay)

I am thinking about sparrows today, about how many of them there are, and yet how little I notice them until they stop for a quick perch on the railing of my deck and I find myself wishing that they were some other variety of backyard bird, perhaps something with just a little more colour—like a wren or a goldfinch or an oriole.  Even a chickadee or a nuthatch will do.

A column about plague columns

Plague columns, like this one in Linz, Austria, are a reminder that the source of salvation is God. (Image by Alfred Stier/Pixabay)

If you’ve travelled in central or eastern Europe, you may have come across a plague column holding a prominent place in a town square. Plague columns were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries as a display of public faith in the church and in God.

The presence of Christ

‘Let us receive the blessing of the presence of Christ yet again.’ (Image by MikesPhotos/Pixabay)

Although our world is facing the challenge of COVID-19, I am so glad for the parts of life that remain unchanged. Every day brings press conferences with appalling numbers of the losses we endure, talk of restrictions and life that seems like it’s in a state of flux. Yet, peanut butter, Netflix, and, of course, the Revised Common Lectionary remain. 

Living into a new imagination

‘Can the next generation of leaders see themselves being involved in short-term, issue-specific initiatives to achieve a specific goal or outcome?’ (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

Once upon a time, around 35 years ago, God brought into the world some new people. These people have grown up to love Jesus and follow him with all of their lives. They have also responded to the impulse of the Holy Spirit and God’s call to serve as leaders in the church. Some of them are pastors. Some are people just interested in making a difference in our world in Jesus-shaped ways.

God is inclusive, not exclusive!

(Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

There are many changes in Canadian society today that compel us to be trained in “diversity and inclusion.” As Christians, what direction do we find in our own biblical texts? 

When Jesus first returned to his hometown, he read a passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The whole synagogue was impressed, as he claimed to fulfil that vision.

Dear MC Saskatchewan:

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called 'Deepening our walk.' (Image by ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay)

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called “Deepening our walk.” In year one, we opened ourselves to encounters with God’s presence by “Deepening our walk with Christ.” This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of turmoil and uncertainty, we need to re-centre ourselves on Jesus Christ, the one who invites us to the table and tr

Expressions of encouragement

Activist Victoria Redsun stands among the symbolically dead at the Manitoba Youth for Climate Action’s Die-In on Sept. 20, 2019. (Photo by Josée Levesque)

Over the years, I’ve attended many youth gatherings, even organized a few. But none were like the one I attended on Sept. 20, 2019, when the Manitoba Youth for Climate Action called students to gather for a Die-In in Winnipeg.

No longer predictable

'Our church family has expanded and, with it, our diversity.' (Image by truthseeker08/Pixabay)

The church we inhabit today is a lot different than the one I grew up in. Whether it was an English congregation or a German one, the worship services tended to have a familiar look and feel. “Mennonite” was somewhat predictable. 

An incessant demand

'I stare at my work wall and pray. It’s plastered with pictures of martyrs and sayings of saints.' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

“Where are you, Mennonites?”

A colleague and I are in a Winnipeg café discussing the current land struggles of many Indigenous peoples. I listen intently as she speaks of the Unist’ot’en, Muskrat Falls and the Tiny House Warriors. I nod my head in understanding and offer affirming murmurs. But then, halfway through tea, she looks at me impatiently.

Speak Jesus

(Image by Thomas B./Pixabay)

In the mid-1960s, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman coined the phrase “the social construction of reality.” The phrase emphasizes that the world of power and meaning is created through the careful management and manipulation of social symbols.

Where heaven and earth meet

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the largest building in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

The Temple of Heaven is one of my favourite places in China. It was the place where the emperor went several times a year to offer sacrifices and receive wisdom from the spiritual realm, in order to rule wisely. The temple, with its three-tiered, round, blue roof representing heaven, is surrounded by a square courtyard with green walls representing the earth.

A collaborative leadership approach

"For Jesus... There would be no hierarchy, no coercive power, no one person ruling over and above another person. His model is mutual, shared leadership under one Lord." (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

We have a lot of pastoral transitions happening at the moment in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is a time that has given me pause to think about how we do church ministry and what our pastoral ministry positions look like.

Valaqua: A place where people express God’s love

"Conversations about God, Jesus, love, life and other big topics are abundant" at Camp Valaqua, Michael Taves writes. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

I have worked at Camp Valaqua for a total of six summers, and this summer I am back on staff after being away for a few years.

Valaqua is a place where I learned many things. It was my first job. I learned how to work with a large group of people cooperatively. Valaqua is a very isolated place, so I got a taste for what it is like to live in close community.

The most important word

"With" may be the most important word in the Christian faith, Sam Wells argues in his book, "Incarnational Ministry." (Photo courtesy of stmartin-in-the-fields.org)

“With” may be the most important word in the Christian faith. So argues Sam Wells, an Anglican priest-theologian, in Incarnational Ministry, a book about being with the church.

Things I noticed at Gathering 2019

Members of the worship team lead the singing at Gathering 2019. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

I didn’t used to get nervous leading singing. There were times before leading at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019 when I was nervous. I was less nervous leading 6,500 youth and sponsors at the St. Louis ’99 Youth Convention than some points before leading a few hundred in Abbotsford, B.C., last month.

Walking with youth toward a fearless faith

At a youth ministry visioning event in April, MCEC participants explored new possibilities for walking with youth “towards a fearless faith in Christ Jesus.”

It is difficult to know what the future holds for youth ministry within Mennonite churches in Canada. Change is happening fast for some churches as they experience more immediate declines in the number of youth and children in their congregations.

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