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. 

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.


“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.


Subscribe to RSS - Opinion