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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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?
“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.
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.
“Women walking together in faith“ is such a fitting theme as I observe life around me this Easter season. The “walking together” part, which carries echoes of the two disciples sharing concerns on the road to Emmaus, draws me in and certainly includes upholding our sisters in prayer, particularly during challenging times.
I have many fond memories of attending our annual national events over my lifetime, beginning in my youth at Great Treks and then as a young adult at assemblies. I remember creative and inspiring worship; animated, even heated, business meetings; and, most significantly, making personal connections with my faith community from across the country.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV).
Most likely, you have heard these words during a wedding ceremony. Although they are fitting for the marriage context, I would suggest that this verse also speaks to our need for each other.
This adorable, and very formal, group is the “graduating class” of the Steinmann Mennonite Church Kindergarten in Baden, Ont., in 1964. The Kindergarten was started in 1962 by the married couples fellowship at Steinmann. Enrolment in the first year was 23; by 1964, it was 58.
A Winnipeg winter has many pleasures: plentiful sunshine, thick river ice for skating, cozy cafés and a wealth of artistic treasures. A Winnipeg winter is also long and challenging, hard on body and spirit.
The other day I hosted a diverse group of women from church: some single, some widowed, some married with kids, some married without kids, some in their 20s and some in their 80s. While sharing our joys and our struggles, we each honoured the unique life stories around the room and created a space for all to feel cared for and valued.
This Lenten season I find myself reflecting on the spiritual discipline of confession. What does a healthy practice of confession look like both individually and collectively?
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” These famous words from Isaiah 2:4 have been enacted in various ways over the years. Sculptures have been created, jewelry made and roads built with former military machinery.
My friend Catherine* teaches at a community school in the core of our city. Given her experience and her skill set, she manages a classroom that is not so much age- or grade-specific, but rather contains children whose behavioural issues make them difficult to manage in normal classroom settings.
As we explore new possibilities in our journey with a new church structure, the Mission and Service Committee of Mennonite Church Alberta has been dreaming about possibilities in a variety of areas. Some of these dreams will remain dreams, while others, hopefully, will come to fruition.