Opinion

A season of Jubilee

Ontario pastor Kara Carter speaks at Gathering 2022. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

“Called to proclaim good news to the poor . . . release to the captives . . . sight to the blind . . . freedom for the oppressed . . . and the time of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19).

Practices of Jubilee are particularly relevant today when we consider this new season of being church.

J.J. Thiessen

(Photo: Heinrich M. Epp Fonds / Mennonite Heritage Archives)

“All beginnings are hard” said J.J. Thiessen. He began his public ministry in 1930 in Saskatoon, hired by the General Conference Mennonite Church to operate the Maedchenheim, helping young women find work and providing spiritual guidance, and to give leadership to the emerging congregation in Saskatoon.

Can we see it?

A woman plays traditional Javanese music at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Indonesia last month. (Meetinghouse photo by Kresna Kurniawan)

It’s a summer of church gatherings. It’s a summer of truth-telling about the devastating impact of colonization by the church. It’s a summer of reflection on what it means to be a post-colonial church.

Sharing across languages

Duang Champa, the name of the folk melody, is a translation of the name for the Lao national flower, the plumeria. (PixaHive photo by Prabhakiran (CC0 licence))

“Dear friends, we’re one in Jesus’ love, restored to hope, so trust him fully, he’s the Lord who calls us friends.” Voices Together’s No. 525, is a simple and lilting Laotian traditional melody, with lyrics that describe Jesus’ followers as friends.

Diversity in our unity: Belonging to each other in the body of Christ

(Photo by Julianna Arjes on Unsplash)

When I was a young adult volunteer in Jamaica, part of Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, I brought a pie to a Mennonite church-sponsored baking competition and was disqualified because my mango pie did not fit the unstated criteria of being a sweet pot

Notes from afar

Participants worship on the opening night of Mennonite World Conference Assembly 17. Hundreds more took part via livestreaming. (Photo by Kresna Kurniawan for Meetinghouse)

In early July, I was in Indonesia—virtually. Like approximately 800 other Anabaptists around the world, I registered as an online participant of Indonesia 2022, the 17th assembly of Mennonite World Conference (MWC).

An undefended spirit

“A boneheaded mistake. A mistake undoubtedly connected to my grey-beard status.” (Photo by Mimzy from Pixabay)

Bought tires for my pickup and determined to install them myself. I no longer have the specific equipment, so tire work involves scrabbling on a concrete floor with hammer and pry bars.

Cycling the Black history of Ontario

The Voices of Freedom Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Photo by Randolph Haluza-Delay)

When I moved from Alberta last year, my explorations of Ontario began by bike. My cycling companions showed me things I had not heard of. Once, we biked past the towering statue of some military guy on the heights above the town of Queenston. Just a day earlier, we had cycled around another part of the Niagara Region and found a historical marker about a “negro burial ground.” Such wording!

A trickle of trust

“Do I believe that, by trusting enough and believing in God’s providence, I’ll be shown special favour as God’s child, a prosperity-promise kind of trust?” (Photo by bhossfeld from Pixabay)

The camping trip had a rough start. While packing to go we got a phone call with a heart-stopping estimate for our car repairs, the first of two vehicles needing work. We were definitely feeling the financial crunch.

Middle Eastern adventure for Winnipeg students

Hannah Kroeker and Fiona Janzen ride camels in the Wadi Rum. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students engage with Ben, an Israeli man who spoke about losing his daughter in the conflict. He is part of the Family Forum, a group that connects bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Raya Cornelsen and James Friesen sit by the separation barrier in Bethlehem, just outside of Banksy's Walled Off Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Students scramble up to the Burdah rock bridge with their Bedouin guides. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Raya Cornelsen and Nancy Loewen overlooking the treasury in Petra. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

The Westgate students pose in front of the treasury at Petra. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students kayak on the Sea of Galilee. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students meet with the young people who are a part of the Galilee Dreamers. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students eat at the Fauzi Azar Hotel in Nazareth. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate student Sarah Schellenberg, right, chats with two students from the Galilee Dreamers. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

In Madaba, Jordan, Westgate students learn how to make maqlube, a dish consisting of meat, rice and fried vegetables placed in a pot that is flipped upside down when served, hence the name ‘maqluba,’ which translates literally as ‘upside-down. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

After two years of living through a pandemic, we never expected that we would be able to travel to the Middle East. After so much uncertainty, we were so fortunate to be able to be a group of 15 graduating Grade 12 students visiting Israel/Palestine and Jordan.

 

Ladies at MWC

(Photo: The Canadian Mennonite/Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

A large audience gathered for one of two “Women’s Section” meetings at the Mennonite World Conference held in Kitchener, Ont., in 1962. The women met to consider the conference theme, “The Lordship of Christ,” from the perspective of personal faith and the home.

These are our people

(Photo by Leejoann/Pixabay)

We welcomed two babies and their families with words of blessing and commitment into our local congregation today. The wide-eyed babies took in all the people watching them and waving at them, with our pastors saying “Look, these are your people!”

A tune finds words

The talents of Katie Graber (left) and Charlene Gingerich combined to create No. 603 in the hymnal Voices Together.

When we opened the portal for submissions to Voices Together, the new Mennonite hymnal, the committee received over 2,000 submissions from songwriters, text writers, and composers from around the world, many of whom were Mennonite.

My opinion on opinions

(Photo by Geetanjal Khanna/Unsplash)

I recently heard a comedian say, “Everyone has an opinion on everything these days.” He continued, “When I was young, it wasn’t that way. People had maybe six opinions. Sometimes you’d meet a guy with, like, eight opinions, and you’d think, ‘Man that guy’s opinionated.’ But on average people had about six opinions. And most of them were about food.”

Large bequest ‘threatened to swamp us’

A drone photo of the old red brick and the new Shantz Mennonite Church. Erb’s Road goes east to St. Agatha and Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Chad Bender)

Lukas Winter introduces a slideshow chronicling the two-and-a-half-year construction process underway during COVID. (Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Mike Shantz, co-chair of the build team, speaks to the congregation in the new sanctuary of Shantz Mennonite Church. (Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Dwight Baer, Mae Baer and Norma Shantz enjoy the celebratory lunch in the new church gym. (Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Kathy and Andy Oja receive food from Liz Plumtree, at the celebratory lunch in the new gym. (Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

The new Shantz Mennonite Church building as seen from Erb’s Road. (Photo by Chad Bender)

Shantz Mennonite Church held a dedication service on Sunday, June 5. It was intended to be for our new facilities, but in truth, it was primarily a rededication of ourselves. Like other followers of Christ, we have been aware that God is calling the church to a new beginning—one that reestablishes its centeredness in a way of life where all are beloved, welcome and authentically known.

Bergthal church

(Photo: Conference of Mennonites in Canada Photo Collection)

The Ontario Mennonite businessman Jacob Y. Shantz established rough housing for newcomers and promoted immigration to a place he called Didsbury, N.W.T., in 1893. In the following two years, Mennonites from Ontario and Manitoba arrived to what became known as Didsbury, Alta. The Bergthal Church was established there in 1903 and became part of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada in 1910.

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