In the early 2000s, I sat in the church office of Pastor Wang in southern China. He was lamenting the fact that 300 people from his congregation had signed up to take baptismal classes during services over the Christmas weekend. I tried to encourage him by saying that that number was beyond a Canadian congregation’s wildest dreams.
The Rosedale Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (also known as Holdeman) is in the community of Crooked Creek, Alta. This photo is from the 1970s, but the community began in 1928 and is located 72 kilometres east of Grand Prairie, Alta. In 2019, this congregation’s membership was 178.
I have a friend. Her name is Samantha (a pseudonym).
I called Samantha last night and invited her to a church service next Sunday. It will be an Eternity service, during which candles are lit for those in our lives who have died. Samantha assured me she would be there.
Advent is the season of waiting for the gift to come. Advent moves into the season of Christmas, which ends at Epiphany, when the Magi—possibly Zoroastrians—famously gave gifts to the infant Jesus.
What do you do when you maybe don’t believe the Bible—or at least a particular part of it?
My grandfather smoked, but I didn’t know it. Grandma didn’t want us to see him smoking and pick up the habit, but they agreed he could continue as long as it was out of sight. I had no idea until years after his passing, when a coworker returned from a smoke break smelling just like grandpa.
When the death of George Floyd sparked race-related demonstrations across North America earlier this year, one of our deacons asked, “What can we do in response to this?”
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38, NIV). John’s exclusionary attitude remains a prevalent attitude in our churches: “You are not one of us!”
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) began work in Thailand in 1960, but from 1963 to 1975 it had no programs there. In 1979, MCC started working with Indochinese refugees coming into Thailand with job creation, social services, agriculture and education programs. This is a photo of MCCer Victor Neumann of Abbotsford, B.C., with refugee workers processing mail at Songkhla camp, Thailand.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years; long enough to have weathered some difficult seasons. We’ve walked alongside other couples in turmoil lately, causing us to reflect together on what makes our marriage work and how we will continue to grow stronger and closer. My grandparents were married nearly 70 years so, in light of that, we anticipate years ahead of us growing closer!
I’ve been a “church-goer” my whole life. I remember my dad polishing our shoes on Saturday evening so we would all look bright and shiny for church on Sunday morning. I remember Sunday evenings watching Walt Disney on TV, getting changed for church during the last commercial, and leaving for church just before the show ended. Going to church is what we did on Sundays.
What does Jesus mean when he says “Do not judge”? How do we respond to injustice, oppression, racism, sexism and prejudice without judgment? I’ve contemplated this for years, and here is where I’ve landed, for now at least.
Ever since the arrival of the coronavirus, there have been segments of the church that have been criticized for not taking the pandemic seriously. Christian sceptics and those who criticize them are well-represented on my social media feed.
Participants in a Festival of Peace at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., embrace during a small group session.
It can probably be said, with a reasonable helping of truthfulness, that the family that I was born into didn’t put big energy into teaching social niceties. Certainly we were taught respect, but “No, no, you take the biggest piece,” didn’t figure prominently.
We don’t talk about mental health much in the church. When we do, we tend to see it as deviation from a presumably healthy “normal.” This is deficit thinking. Maybe our standards of “normal” are a problem. Maybe we could see the diverse ways that minds and bodies function as gifts.
In late August, my wife and I became first-time homeowners. There had been many times we wondered if we would ever be able to afford a house, ever save up enough for a down payment, or if we even wanted to do the traditional homeownership thing. But, after 16 years of marriage, we bought a house.
As I finish off another growing season on the farm, I reflect on how things grew, what went well, and what to tweak for next year. Aside from our various pastured livestock, I also grow a market garden and, after nine years, I still feel that I have so much to learn.
Within this Mennonite hearth, we can read an environmental history. By 1850, when John E. and Magdalena Brubacher built this house, the forest stands of southwestern Ontario were well on their way to being transformed into farmland. The harvesting and sale of wood and its products was the engine of the economy.
Since living in a pandemic that has suddenly limited indoor socializing, I have been particularly thankful for the neighbourhood friendships we’ve created. In March and April, when we were all isolating, we actually got to know our neighbours far better.