Whether you call it Sunday school, faith formation or Christian education, one aspect of a congregation’s life together is how we nurture faith in people of all ages. Last spring, with the coming of the COVID-19 restrictions, many churches saw drastic changes in their faith education programs.
The Mennonite church has the opportunity to become a dependable partner in the work of dismantling racism.
The church as a whole has a record of racism—both overt and covert—that has been attested to by generations of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) community members both within and outside the church.
Johise Namwira, a human rights activist and member of Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, takes part in a MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
Participants in the MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church are pictured from left to right, top row: Dennis R. Edwards, Johise Namwira and Amy Gingerich; middle row: Chantelle Todman, Jerrell Williams and Leah Fulton; and bottom: Delonte Gholston. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
Acknowledging that “the church has been awakened and reawakened to racial injustice in our midst after the death of George Floyd,” MennoMedia, an agency of Mennonite Church Canada and MC U.S.A., dedicated one of its ‘adaptive church webinars’ to addressing racism in churches.
I’ve been embarrassed of my heritage for most of my life. I’m the son of immigrants who came from Germany and the Philippines. Even though I was born in Canada, I know that to many people, I look like I came from somewhere else.
That’s why I’ve always cringed when people ask me where I’m from. It’s never about where my home is but rather where my family came from. Saying “Canada” was never good enough, and that often made me feel like an outsider.
As rallies and protests continue across the United States and Canada in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the five regional churches of Mennonite Church Canada released a statement yesterday asking congregations to set a specific time of prayer this coming Sunday, June 7.
At the end of May and into June, as news outlets reported on demonstrations in cities across North America, we witnessed something more powerful than tear gas hanging in the air.
It was all about working together for the good of the local Cambridge community when Preston and Wanner Mennonite churches partnered with a local theatre group to support the work of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.
Stacey Swampy, the Micah Mission’s Indigenous Awareness Program facilitator, tells his story of life within the system and of healing, at a two-day workshop entitled, “The awakening: Indigenous voices in restorative justice.” (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Group 2 has all the advantages in assembling its Lego set, including the participation of the presenter’s 11-year-old daughter! (Photo by Donna Schulz)
As part of an exercise to mirror the experience of Indigenous children in the residential school system, Group 1 must try to assemble the Lego set without instructions and without speaking. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
There were two Lego sets and two groups of participants. The first group to assemble its toy would be the winner, but it quickly became apparent that the playing field was not level.
I like to think Canada is a progressive country, and discrimination is on the decline, but I’ve had a reality check.
Doris Bergen of the University of Toronto delivers the keynote address, “Neighbours, killers, enablers, witnesses: The many roles of Mennonites in the Holocaust,” at the Mennonites and the Holocaust conference held on March 16 and 17, 2018, at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. (Bethel College photo by Vada Snider)
Bethel College students Jacob Russell, left, of Lawrence, Kan., Albert Bratthammar of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Henry Baxter of Dothan, Ala., talk with Mark Jantzen, centre, Bethel professor of history, and Doris Bergen of the University of Toronto. (Bethel College photo by Vada Snider)
Participants in the Mennonites and the Holocaust conference talk after Doris Bergen’s keynote address in Memorial Hall at Bethel College. At left is Ben Goossen of Harvard University, author of Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era. At right, Joel Nofziger, director of communications for Lancaster (Pa.) Mennonite Historical Society, talks with Rachel Waltner Goossen of Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., who moderated one of the conference sessions. (Bethel College photo by Vada Snider)
In 2004, Joachim Wieler of Weimar, Germany, opened a small wooden box he inherited after his mother’s death. To his surprise and horror, it contained letters his late father wrote while serving as an officer in the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
There is a popular language arising in the church when it comes to justice work, that of “being an ally.” It means to align yourself with whoever your “other” is, so to love your neighbour and serve the Lord. But what happens when words are not enough, and when having only words of an ally can make injustice? What happens when being an ally is not enough?
The logo of the #ReclaimHolyWeek campaign, organized by Holy Week of Resistance (holyweekofresistance.net)
After a recent experience in New York comes this reflection on racism and the social context of our faith.
I can't breathe. At this moment, this is one of the most politically charged statements you can say in the United States. It drudges up a social context where racism and state brutality are killing innocent people. It evokes a memory that causes resistance to injustice. It is a call to action. It is conviction.