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Passionate about front-yard living

"The front-yard life of loving our neighbours, sharing with those in need and being open and vulnerable in our friendships will create the caring communities we all need." (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

My pastor husband co-preached about living a front-yard life at a large joint worship service at the park last weekend. With three churches gathered together and probably half of our town at the park, the message of interacting with our neighbours in the front yard, instead of keeping isolated in a fenced-off backyard, rippled through our town this week.

202 columns later

Melissa Miller is ending her column. "I have been grateful for the opportunity to place my heartfelt reflections before you, and will miss the monthly commitment... From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you."

Some years ago, I screwed up my courage and sent off an email to the editor of Canadian Mennonite. I offered to write a column on family relationships. 

Reaching out requires letting in

"Our 'success' in faithful outreach is... evidenced by the ongoing transformation in our own lives as we genuinely connect with others and let them in." (Image by StockSnap/Pixabay)

A recent CBC news article projected that 9,000 Canadian churches will close over the next 10 years. That’s approximately one-third of Canadian churches gone in a decade. It’s not news that the church in Canada is dying, but it is shocking how fast it’s happening. 

Confronting the fear of our history

University students participate in a KAIROS blanket exercise in 2015. (MCC photo by Leona Lortie)

“Yet we Christians have also been called to take a good hard look at ourselves. To reflect on our Christian beliefs, to scrutinize our missional practices. And to decolonize. It’s not that Christianity is inherently colonial, but for generations the church and its faith have been used —wittingly, unwittingly, and far too often—as instruments of dispossession in the settler colonial arsenal.

Church relations on so many different levels

'If we look far enough we can all find similarities among each other.' (Image by Christine Schmidt/Pixabay)

You are what you eat, or can it be said you are who you work with? There’s also the phrase, “two peas in a pod,” but this time there’s three of us.

On the surface, it could be said that Kevin Barkowsky, Garry Janzen and I are nothing alike, but, as Mennonite Church British Columbia staffers, we certainly can relate to each other in our personal lives.

Namaka cutting wheat

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives

A farmer cuts wheat on a farm in Namaka, Alta., in the 1920s. Food and its production continues to be a central driving force in society, affecting our health, quality of life and where we live. Forces such as mechanization, urbanization, and globalization have impacted the food matrix and our connection to the food we grow and eat.

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.

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