1. What role models are boys and young men exposed to today? How well do our families and churches do in providing healthy male role models? Does pop culture provide positive as well as negative images of what it means to be a man? Who were the positive role models of earlier generations?
Doug Klassen, pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alta., served as Pastor in Residence at Canadian Mennonite University in late January and early February 2012. His presentation about the role of men in society at the CMU Monday forum sparked lots of discussion. He reflected further on the topic in a sermon at Foothills Mennonite on February 12, 2012.
1. What are some ways that parenting today is similar to, and different from, earlier generations? Were yesterday’s parents also “scared and overwhelmed”? Do today’s parents tend to hover too much? What role should cell phones play in parenting? Are our children too closely programmed? To what degree is materialism a threat to our families?
Parents of students at MEI Schools in Abbotsford, B.C., attend one of Dave Currie’s ‘i-Parent’ sessions, that are billed as ‘formatting the next generation.’
Are my children going to be okay?” This is the overriding concern that Kathy Giesbrecht, associate director of leadership ministries for Mennonite Church Manitoba, hears and senses from parents. Parents are scared and overwhelmed, and there is no manual for them to keep in their back pocket.
Anne Wiens is determined to avoid food safety inspection hassles like those experienced the last time the annual Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale was hosted in Didsbury, Alta., in 2009.
Windows in doors and walls between offices are a requirement in most church safety policies, according to Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, co-pastor at First Mennonite Church, Edmonton. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)
Ontario pastor Kevin Peters-Unrau tells a Kafkaesque story of what happened when he volunteered to work with children in his community.
- Resolution: Be it resolved that Canada would be more secure if funding were re-allocated from the military to development at home and abroad.
- Speaker for the resolution: Professor Constance Candida
- Speaker against the resolution: Retired General Warren Shuter
The heart of the Christian life is aligning ourselves with God’s love. We squander love and then turn to the Spirit to fill us with it again. Even harder than that, especially as we try to make sense of our church’s current struggles, is what to do when we come to the sinking feeling that our problem might be that we understand God’s love in different and contrary ways.
“As part of my probation conditions, I have to stay away from places where there are families,” says Joe Patterson, “so that made finding a church hard.”
1. Do you know people like Sue and Bill in the story? Does your congregation provide Sunday school classes that appeal more to Sue or to Bill? Do you see the world in a modernist or postmodernist way? Are younger people more apt to be postmodernists?
- Be honest in everything.
- Be open about our ignorance.
- Be open to questions and discussion about anything.
- Care for the other (locally and globally), without hope of them joining us.
Should Christians in North America and Europe understand the Bible in fresh ways in an era when Christianity no longer dominates western civilization? Yes, says a British professor, Lloyd Pietersen, who wrote a book on the subject that was published by Paternoster Press in his country and by Herald Press in North America.
‘Bill’ and ‘Sue’ are on opposite sides of the modern/postmodern divide when it comes to Sunday school. Portraying the fictional Bill and Sue in this photo are Marco Funk and Marla Langelotz.
"Staying for Sunday School, Bill?”
“I’m staying, Sue, but not for Sunday school. I’m going to hang out with the ‘coffee drinkers’ in the kitchen. We have some really good conversations about religion and spirituality there, not dry discussions about traditional meanings of an ancient book.”
1. What are the demographics of your congregation? What percentage is over 65? How many of those are frail elderly? What programs or ministries are designed specifically for seniors? Do the older members of your congregation feel involved and engaged?
When Gloria Dirks was retiring from the joint position of Administrator and Director of Care at Parkwood Mennonite Home in Waterloo, Ont. in 2003, she knew she wanted to use her skills in some way. The call of her congregation, the Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church, to research the potential of a parish nurse seemed like a good fit.
Across the country, many MC Canada churches are staring at the numbers and scratching their heads. As young people drift away from the church and the baby boomers retire, church leadership is faced with increasing numbers of grey heads.
1. What technology does your congregation use in worship? What are the challenges to learning how to use new technology in worship? How much power is wielded by those who control the sound board?
Technology is the single most significant characteristic of modern western culture. Canadian philosopher George Grant contends it has long displaced democracy and capitalism as top identifiers. Technology directly shapes Christian belief and practice in ways we must at the very least question, if not actively resist.
Money, business, salvation and the kingdom of God. You won’t often find these words sharing the same sentence, but they do belong together in the Gospel of Luke. It turns out Luke has a lot to say about how we manage organizations that produce goods and services, and about how this is very closely related to salvation and God’s kingdom.
1. According to Larry Miller, the last two decades have been a time of fundamental change for Anabaptists around the world. What changes have you seen in Mennonite World Conference (MWC) and in how Mennonites interact globally? Do you agree that the centre of gravity of the global church has shifted to the Global South?
“You were a new kind of ‘migrant missionary’ described in John Howard Yoder’s As You Go,” said Bert Lobe, in an evening of memories of Larry Miller at Rockway Mennonite Church, Kitchener, on Oct. 23, 2011.
Larry Miller’s tenure as MWC general secretary was marked by his gift of encouragement among other global leaders. In this 1991 photo, he stands behind his ‘big brothers’: Mesach Krisetya, left, of Indonesia, who was to become MWC president in 1997, and Reg Toews of Canada, then serving as treasurer.
The Millers and their children (now married) in Kolkata, India, in 1997, with the parents-in-law of Indian church leader Menno Joel, right. Pictured from left to right: Anne-Marie Miller Blaise; Elisabeth Miller Sommers, Menno’s parents-in-law, Larry Miller, Alexandre Miller, Eleanor Miller and Menno Joel.
At the 2011 Executive Committee meetings in Taiwan, Cisca Mawangu Ibanda of Congo, centre, presents carved animals to Larry Miller, left, now former MWC general secretary, and César García, who assumed the general secretary’s role on Jan. 1. More than curios, said Ibanda, the animals represent qualities important for their service to MWC: Miller ho
Larry Miller remembers one moment clearly when, as a 38-year-old, he was weighing whether or not to accept the nomination to lead Mennonite World Conference (MWC). The year was 1988 and he was sitting in a university library in Strasbourg, France, where he lived.
1. What experience have you had with the King James Version? Historically, how was it used in your congregation? How familiar do the words of the KJV sound to you? How do you respond to them emotionally?
The King James Version was not the first attempt at an English translation of the Bible. John Wycliffe, together with others, had already published a complete English Bible by 1382, prompting the Roman Catholic Church to decree that the translation of Scripture was heresy and punishable by death.