Opinion

MW Canada theme puts words into action

Our verbal and physical expressions of support are often enhanced at wider social gatherings.

“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.

Gathering 2019 is for the whole family

Among the tour options at Mennonite Church Canada’s assembly in 2016 in Saskatoon was a bus trip to the Shekinah Retreat Centre. (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

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.

Interdependence

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Image by corinna-kr/Pixabay)

“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.

Graduating class

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

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.

Can we talk about ageism?

'I am bothered by the ongoing negative messages about aging. Even more so, I am bothered that I share them in some ways... Our dominant culture fears aging and devalues the aged.' (Image by Free-Photos/Pixabay)

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.

Equally welcome

'I pray that the church will wholeheartedly welcome every individual with open, gracious and caring arms and show the love of Jesus to each.' (Image by MetsikGarden/Pixabay)

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.

Swords into ploughshares

Photo: Klaas Brandt Photo Collections

“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.

A friend tells a story

'Donny’s life had obviously not been easy, as he displayed in her room with great anger and frustration... He hated school, he hated kids, he hated teachers, he even hated his own name.' (Photo by PDPics/Pixabay)

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. 

Dreaming of possibilities

'We pray that a significant number of our dreams come to be fulfilled,' Vince Friesen writes. (Illustration courtesy of Pixabay)

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.

Canadian Women in Mission

Photo: Der Bote Photograph Collection

These Saskatchewan ladies are hovering over baked goods at a sale circa 1964. “Ladies groups” have been significant organizations that have contributed to the social and spiritual well-being of women, their families, communities and beyond. Over time, the organizational structures grew to include local, regional and nationwide organizations.

Can we talk about suicide?

'If we are unable to speak of the crushing struggle that compels someone to end his or her life, we give it even more power,' Melissa Miller writes. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

A few months ago, a preacher at our church included suicide in his sermon. Philippians 1 was the text, where the Apostle Paul sets out his dilemma between preferring life or death. “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you,” Paul writes.

The beautiful chaos of kids at church

Church can be a beautiful way to be still and meet with the Lord, but it can also be a place where kids are fighting, stealing way too many cookies and running laps through the sanctuary, Christina Bartel Barkman writes. (Courtesy of Pixabay)

As a mother of four little ones, I find church can be pretty chaotic. For six years while living in Manila, our Filipino church gathered in our home while my kids played around the family room.

Worship as an act of loving God

'When we come together to collectively recognize and respond to God’s presence in our midst, something happens that we don’t experience on our own,' Troy Watson writes. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

I’ve run into a number of people who are “spiritual but not religious,” who have recently started attending church. They told me they skip the opening worship and just show up to hear the message. When I asked why, one person said, “The music doesn’t resonate with me or the world I live in. It often hinders my ability to connect with God, to be honest.”

Deepening our walk with each other

'Throughout the biblical story there is a direct correlation between our love of God and our call to love each other,' Ryan Siemens writes. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

During this past year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has focused on the theme of “Deepening our walk with Christ,” in the hope of increasing our openness to encounters with God’s presence in our lives. This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of great turmoil and uncertainty, we need to come back to the One who calms the storm and brings us peace.

Chesley Lake accordion

Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

An accordionist serenades a literary society meeting at Chesley Lake Camp in Ontario, in 1949. Chesley Lake was the first Mennonite church camp in Ontario and one of the first in Canada. Literary societies were common in Ontario Mennonite churches at the time, as social outlets and avenues for artistic expression.

‘Conversation Circles’ offer encouragement, hope

MW Manitoba committee members Larissa Pahl, left, and Elsie Wiebe were active participants in the Conversation Circles last fall. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Giesbrecht)

Last fall, ignited by curiosity about what we would hear if we invited women to share their experiences of life within Mennonite Church Manitoba congregations, Mennonite Women Manitoba decided to host two Conversation Circles, one in Winnipeg and the other in southern Manitoba.

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