What makes us Mennonite?

Tewodros Beyene, outgoing president of Meserete Kristos Church, washes the feet of his successor, Deselagn Abede. (Photo by Tom Eshleman/LMC)

“Talking about ‘a’ Mennonite identity seems passé,” wrote Marlene Epp in 2018. Still, Epp, a member of a pre-eminent family of Mennonite historians, is more than willing to talk about Mennonite identity. 

Living into a new imagination

‘Can the next generation of leaders see themselves being involved in short-term, issue-specific initiatives to achieve a specific goal or outcome?’ (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

Once upon a time, around 35 years ago, God brought into the world some new people. These people have grown up to love Jesus and follow him with all of their lives. They have also responded to the impulse of the Holy Spirit and God’s call to serve as leaders in the church. Some of them are pastors. Some are people just interested in making a difference in our world in Jesus-shaped ways.

The gift of imagination

(Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

I remember the feeling with such clarity: that furious, terrified, sick-to-your-stomach despair one feels when you are numerous pages into writing an academic paper and the computer freezes and you’re unsure if it was saved. Rebooting and reopening the document brings about despair and tears as you discover it’s all gone. Every. Single. Word. 

Climate change as a spiritual crisis

A group of young Mennonites pictured at the climate strike in Winnipeg on Sept. 27, 2019. 'We are shifting and caring more about the climate, and every little and big thing we do helps,' Douglas Kaufman writes. (Canadian Mennonite file photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

When Luke Gascho and Jennifer Schrock of Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center invited me to help lead efforts to engage Mennonite churches on climate change, it felt like a call from the Spirit. I felt prepared because I had been leading Benton Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind., in creation care for 15 years and had just spent a sabbatical studying ecology and theology.

Structure and identity

Doug Klassen, executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada (left), serves communion to Calvin Quan, moderator of MC Canada, and Lee Dyck, moderator of MC British Columbia, at Assembly 2019 in Abbotsford last July. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

After Gathering 2019 last summer, Doug Klassen, then newly hired as executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada, sat down with me for a chat in the Abbotsford, B.C., airport. Amid the chatter of travellers and loudspeaker announcements, we considered the work ahead for our church. We talked about structure and identity.

God is inclusive, not exclusive!

(Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

There are many changes in Canadian society today that compel us to be trained in “diversity and inclusion.” As Christians, what direction do we find in our own biblical texts? 

When Jesus first returned to his hometown, he read a passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The whole synagogue was impressed, as he claimed to fulfil that vision.

Twilight Auction

Photo: David L. Hunsberger/ Mennonite Archives of Ontario

In this scene from Twilight Auction by John L. Ruth, young Harvard-educated Sam confronts his traditional Mennonite family’s willingness to sell treasured family heirlooms. Doug Millar, left, is the father, and Dale Shantz, holding the vase, plays Sam in this 1969 Conrad Grebel College production.

Making things right

'My son spent much of that evening writing an apology note...' (Image by _Alicja_/Pixabay)

I read the note from my son’s teacher and my heart sank. As the kids unpacked their backpacks and had a snack, I stood still in the kitchen feeling disappointed, sad and perplexed.

Partners in the body of Christ

Participants at the Mennonite World Conference Renewal 2027 event in Costa Rica in 2019 hold hands and pray together. (Photo by Ebenezer Mondez)

Strange, I know, but I like to read financial statements. I remember, in my early 20s, listening to the treasurer in our Toronto congregation explain how to understand financial statements when they were meaningless to me. Since then, I have learned that financial statements show us how we think about our priorities and relationships. Numbers and their labels tell lots of stories.

The snowball effect

'The snowball effect is about momentum...' (Image by Benoit Hamann/Pixabay)

The snowball effect refers to a situation in which something starts off small or insignificant and increases in size or importance at an accelerating rate. Like when you roll a small snowball through wet snow and it accumulates more and more snow until it becomes so large and heavy that you can’t move it anymore.

Dear MC Saskatchewan:

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called 'Deepening our walk.' (Image by ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay)

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called “Deepening our walk.” In year one, we opened ourselves to encounters with God’s presence by “Deepening our walk with Christ.” This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of turmoil and uncertainty, we need to re-centre ourselves on Jesus Christ, the one who invites us to the table and tr

David Neufeld

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / David P. Neufeld Fonds

You can find all kinds of things in the archives, including humour.  In a report dated Jan. 25, 1963, Rev. David P. Neufeld wrote, “During the course of the last year I have come to sympathize with a man who was called to be the executive secretary of one of our larger denominations [U.S. Protestant Episcopal Bishop, Stephen F. Bayne Jr.]. . . .

‘Unusual kindness’

'I thought of the Sunday brunch that this tiny Lutheran congregation creates annually. Church that day becomes a time for frying sausages and scrambling eggs.' (Image by Holger Langmaier/Pixabay)

On Feb. 2, I attended a worship service that mattered.

It was an ecumenical service, held as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Here in Laird, Sask., population somewhere south of 300, three churches participated. All are, by most standards, laughably small. And yet, there we were, crowded into tiny St. John’s Lutheran Church. 

Slow down for nature

'If we pay attention to creation, we have to move at slower paces, paces more amenable to being gentle and caring in all our relations.' (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

One of the most profound experiences of my life was when I bought a bicycle at the police auction at the precise midpoint of my two-year term of service with Mennonite Central Committee.

Lessons from the wheel

'My best friend, Mike, is a potter. Our friendship has afforded me the occasional opportunity to sit at his wheel and try my hand at pottery. I’ve learned that it isn’t easy.' (Image by Pexels/Pixabay)

My best friend, Mike, is a potter. Our friendship has afforded me the occasional opportunity to sit at his wheel and try my hand at pottery. I’ve learned that it isn’t easy.

Expressions of encouragement

Activist Victoria Redsun stands among the symbolically dead at the Manitoba Youth for Climate Action’s Die-In on Sept. 20, 2019. (Photo by Josée Levesque)

Over the years, I’ve attended many youth gatherings, even organized a few. But none were like the one I attended on Sept. 20, 2019, when the Manitoba Youth for Climate Action called students to gather for a Die-In in Winnipeg.

Cornelius Penner

Photo: Joel Landau, United Press International

In 1944, Cornelius Penner was separated from his wife and four children in Poland. He was sent to a German work camp while the rest of the family was taken to Siberia and later Tajikistan. Cornelius came to Winnipeg in 1949, and worked at the Mennonitische Rundschau newspaper.

Giving up a dream

‘We came incredibly close to buying our dream house, and then we gave it up.’ (Image by Comfreak/Pixabay)

I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year but I definitely jumped into this new decade with a challenge to choose what matters most to our family.

'We discuss and we divide'

(Image by OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay)

In early December, I received an email from Jeremiah Choi, our Mennonite World Conference (MWC) regional representative for Northeast Asia, about the situation in Hong Kong, where he lives and pastors: “Please pray for Hong Kong churches for unity. We were not used to discussing political issues. Now we discuss and we divide.


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