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Walking a different path

Marlene Friesen of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., enjoys a sunrise view of the Dead Sea during a walking tour of the West Bank last spring. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Out for a late afternoon hike in the desert with a Bedouin host from our camp, we happened upon their camel herd. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Hikers pass Mar Saba, a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in AD 483 and now considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world that still maintains many of its ancient traditions. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Many of the valleys we walked through were carpeted with wild flowers. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

One of our fellow hikers speaks with a local shepherd comparing walking sticks and hiking poles! (Photo by Albert Friesen)

When we first started telling people we were going to hike the Masar Ibrahim Trail in the West Bank, Palestine, they were incredulous.

“You’re going where? You’re doing what?”

Helena Kruger's sewing class

Photo: Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Pioneer Mission Photo Collection

According to CBC, Canadian households buy four times as much clothing as they did 30 years ago, and throw away 46 kilograms of clothing per year, of which 85 percent ends up in the landfill, where it creates greenhouses gases as it decomposes. We are addicted to cheap and cheaply made clothing, the report claims. Helena Kruger of Steinbach, Man., loved to teach sewing classes for many years.

Informed ethics

'Christian social scientists use the research-based tools of their trade to probe the issues of the day, then combine them with theological tools. Only together do they serve the goal of figuring out how to live so that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' (Image by Tumisu/Pixabay)

A man saw the title of the book I was reading with my morning coffee. It was something religious-sounding, so he engaged me about faith. Eventually he asked what I did, and I said I teach at the nearby Christian university. I teach sociology. “Oh, sociology?” he said. “Then you can’t really be a Christian.”

Where heaven and earth meet

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the largest building in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

The Temple of Heaven is one of my favourite places in China. It was the place where the emperor went several times a year to offer sacrifices and receive wisdom from the spiritual realm, in order to rule wisely. The temple, with its three-tiered, round, blue roof representing heaven, is surrounded by a square courtyard with green walls representing the earth.

Intentional with our time

'My husband and I have been very mindful of what we will fill our schedules with... We have time for father-son mountain biking, weekend morning Lego time, and running over to the neighbours to play with their kittens.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

With fall schedules now well underway, I sense the pressure of a “busy” lifestyle creeping in on our days and cramping our summer style. I’ve chatted with many friends who have hopped right into the overwhelming patterns of rushing out the door to yet another soccer practice or piano lesson.

How to talk about money at your church

'Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving.' (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving. God’s mercies to us are new every morning, and we have so much to be grateful for.

Imagine that one or two Sundays every month, someone from the congregation shares a moment of gratitude during worship. I’ll call the church Peach Blossom.

Revolutionary hospitality

'Radical hospitality became a central practice for the early church. Congregations intentionally welcomed those who were unwelcomed by others.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

When you search “hospitality” online, Google auto-fills with words like industry, services and tourism. You will find links to lodging, food and beverage establishments, entertainment and travel services, and hospitality management training institutions. What you don’t find, unfortunately, are links to Christianity or the church.

Finding spiritual fruits in Mennonite orchards

'We found that the sweetest spiritual fruit had grown in the Mennonite communities, so we wanted to plant that seed in our backyard.' (Image by Marco Roosink/Pixabay)


When Ly Vang was growing up on a farm in Laos, her family planted it own fruits, and her parents always said, ‘Whenever you eat fruit that tastes good, save the seed so you can plant it. That way you will have more delicious fruit!’

A collaborative leadership approach

"For Jesus... There would be no hierarchy, no coercive power, no one person ruling over and above another person. His model is mutual, shared leadership under one Lord." (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

We have a lot of pastoral transitions happening at the moment in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is a time that has given me pause to think about how we do church ministry and what our pastoral ministry positions look like.

‘Camps make church come alive’

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, left, with campers from her cabin at Camp Koinonia’s youth week. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, centre, with fellow Camps with Meaning staffers Matthew Sawatzky and Emma Berg. (Photo courtesy of Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, right, with camper Carlynn Davidson at Camp Koinonia’s youth week. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

It’s 10:30 on a sunny August morning and the lodge at Camp Koinonia, near Boissevain, Man., is bursting with shouts and harmonies. People dance and laugh together. The group radiates energy.

If the church is the body, then camp is the heart that pumps life into every corner.

Valaqua: A place where people express God’s love

"Conversations about God, Jesus, love, life and other big topics are abundant" at Camp Valaqua, Michael Taves writes. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

I have worked at Camp Valaqua for a total of six summers, and this summer I am back on staff after being away for a few years.

Valaqua is a place where I learned many things. It was my first job. I learned how to work with a large group of people cooperatively. Valaqua is a very isolated place, so I got a taste for what it is like to live in close community.

Creating a wardrobe to match your values

Elise Epp’s sneakers are ethically and sustainably made and sourced. (Photo by Elise Epp)

Elise Epp’s socks are made of certified organic cotton. (Photo by Elise Epp)

Elise Epp’s shirt, jeans and shoes are ethically and sustainably made and sourced. (Photo by Krista Hawryluk)

If you wear clothes, then you need to care about how they were made and who made them. Even if you aren’t interested in “fashion.” Even if it means giving up your favourite stores and finding new ones. Even if you think it won’t be available in your budget, style, or size (it is). 

How do you get over these hurdles? Connect it with something you’re already passionate about.

The most important word

"With" may be the most important word in the Christian faith, Sam Wells argues in his book, "Incarnational Ministry." (Photo courtesy of stmartin-in-the-fields.org)

“With” may be the most important word in the Christian faith. So argues Sam Wells, an Anglican priest-theologian, in Incarnational Ministry, a book about being with the church.

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