Opinion

No 'happy clappy Christians' for Blake

"Blake’s history didn’t allow him to give much respect to the work of Christian ministry... A frequent derisive term was 'happy clappy Christians.'" (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

My friend Blake Rooks died in early May. 

He was large, unkempt, unhealthy, opinionated and occasionally rude. He was an atheist. His kidneys didn’t work. He loved people. He carried a measure of English charm. All of these were qualities, along with others, that made him important in my life.

Layers of faithfulness

Intergenerational hands are layered at Waterloo North Mennonite Church. (Photo by Carmen Brubacher)

A mentor once told me that, in her view, a female preacher should wear “straight lines” behind the pulpit. That is, a suit. Straight lines command greater authority, which means people are more likely to give your words credit. As someone who has never worn a suit in her life, this didn’t sit well with me and would make me feel like an imposter.

Nipawin streetscape

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives

Streetscape of Nipawin, Sask., in the 1920s. Mennonites first began moving to Lost River in the Rural Municipality of Nipawin in the early 1900s. By 1906, they were meeting in homes for worship. In 1913, Bishop Abraham Doerksen of the Manitoba Sommerfeld Mennonite Church travelled to the Nipawin area, where he baptized 42 people and ordained Aron Doerksen and Abram R. Bergen as pastors.

Pray for the city

'I did feel like an exile, and the verse did command me to pray for the city in which I’d landed. God knows a city needs prayers.' (Image by Korey Lowdon/Pixabay)

Nearly 20 years ago, my husband accepted a job offer in Winnipeg that resulted in our family’s move from Ontario, a place we had called home for 22 years.

The holy task of parenting

‘I need to nurture our relationship, whatever it might take. I need to show a deep and unfailing love to my son, and not let his antics get under my skin.’ (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

It was at the baseball diamond on my 36th birthday that I stumbled upon a breaking point. It came as a deep gut conviction, a weary heartfelt and tear-filled prayer, and a holy call from my Lord.

Morden motorcycles

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives

Summer is a time when many set aside time to explore. Pictured are five men on their motorcycles on Railway Street in Morden, Man., in 1913. From left to right on the motorcycles are: Isaac G. Brown, George G. Brown, Jacob E. Dyck, John J. Braun, and an unknown rider. New and familiar places are visited, old friends get reacquainted and new memories and relationships are made.

Walking together

'This call to deepen our walk with one another calls for the kind of courage we may not possess in and of ourselves.' (Image by Sasin Tipchai/Pixabay)

This year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has been “deepening our walk with one another” as part of a three-year initiative to call us to deeper life with Christ, ourselves and our neighbours.

In court with ‘Clifford’

'In a bleak setting, I was given a glimpse of compassion, determination and hope.' (Image by succo/Pixabay)

Recently, I attended a provincial court session. A released offender friend, “Clifford” (a pseudonym), had messed up rather significantly. It wasn’t a violent offence, but it was the third breach of his conditions. It was a reasonable assumption that the system would not see Clifford’s actions as “cute.”

Experiencing God’s love affair with the world

‘In our Canadian context, growth is not happening. How then do we think about our role? Do we need to water more? Do we need to plant in a different space?’ (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

So I’m out walking in the beautiful spring sunshine and I pass a church that has a large empty parking lot with a sign that says “No Parking.” As I turn the corner, I see the official church sign that states “Everyone is Welcome.”

Harold Schmidt cook

Photo: Harold J. Schmidt / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

We “both have white uniforms,” joked Harold Schmidt in a letter to his girlfriend (later, wife) Enid Culp in 1942. Schmidt, left, was a cook at the Seymour Mountain conscientious objector (CO) service camp in British Columbia; Enid was in nursing training in Ontario. The Second World War disrupted normal life in many ways, including traditional gender roles, as historian Marlene Epp has noted.

Can we talk about abortion?

‘In our churches are people who have experiences with abortion. How does the church provide support, compassion and understanding?’ (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

At a recent gathering of pastors, one man spoke of “a woman’s right to choose” with respect to pregnancy, then added, “I assume everyone here would agree with that.” In a room of Mennonite pastors, I was not so confident that all would be “pro-choice.”

Hold them close

‘We are an extroverted pastoral family, with doors always open to friends and family. And we love that! But we also covet the closeness of our unit and are sure to prioritize time together.’ (Image by waldryano/Pixabay)

It was a year ago now, when we were packing up our life in Manila, embracing in tearful goodbyes and embarking on a new path. On our departure day, our home was still full of our dear Filipino friends who had become our family over the span of six years.

What ‘confessing your sins to one another’ isn’t

Some forms of communal confession, like “open mic” confession, can be hurtful and destructive to the community and individuals involved, Troy Watson writes. (Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay)

Confession is primarily between the individual and God, as I wrote about last month. Yet Scripture encourages us to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). Why is this important, and how do we do this in healthy and helpful ways? 

Didsbury drawing

Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario Mission Photo Collection

In 1893, Kitchener, Ont., businessman Jacob Y. Shantz secured land from the government and railway, and he promoted the Didsbury, Alta., settlement to eastern Mennonites.

Whose are we?

'In the coming weeks, we move together towards the cross, reaffirming the presence of the resurrected Christ in our midst, and therefore reaffirming whose we are.' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

“It isn’t the authority which is given to me, but the authority under whose I am,” was the answer of a friend when I asked, “So what is it like to wear a clerical collar?” In other words, it isn’t so much who I am, but whose I am, to whom I belong and under whose authority I reach out and speak from.

Holiness doesn’t demand perfection

'Each one present... was told about the particular gifts and strengths that he or she brought to make this Circle strong and holy while being offered juice and crackers.' (Image by Ana Segota/Pixabay)

Towards the end of 2006, I burned out as a full-time minister. I had failed to find adequate supports for my introverted spirit in an extroverted role. I chose not attend the church while it made decisions about future directions and leadership. 

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