We live in a fearful world. People persecute, slander, ignore, bully and oppress other people.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1894, Anna Enss (1855-1914), left, and Peter Regier (1851-1925) moved their family from Prussia (now Poland) to Tiefengrund, Sask., where Regier was the founding leader of the Rosenorter Gemeinde and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.
A woman I’ll call Adelle stops by the church from time to time, looking for food or for a ride to another part of the city. My congregation has supplied me with non-perishable food, toiletry items, and, in colder seasons, toques, socks and mitts, for just such occasions.
Many conversations about the Old Testament are determined by questions of modernity. What are the facts? What really happened? The facts are then loaded as ammunition in the culture wars of “liberal” and “conservative.” Other questions bring faith to the shoals of doubt on matters of a potentially violent and misogynistic God.
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)
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.
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.
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.
“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.
The Petitcodiac (N.B.) Mennonite Church Council is pictured during a meeting in 1996. Whether around a kitchen table or a purposely built boardroom, church councils are the administrative hub of most mainstream Mennonite congregations. But it was not always so.
At the Mennonite Church Canada Gathering earlier this summer, my husband Darnell and I led a workshop on the theme of inspiring the imagination of the local church.