1. The Christmas season is a time of giving. How does your congregation and/or community get involved in giving during this season? What are we saying when we give gifts? Do you agree with Aiden Enns’s comment in the “Alternatives” article that, “when we give, we acknowledge our dependence on others”?
Christmas will be different this year for Winnipeg’s Kathy Okolita.
She stands in her newly renovated home surrounded by 18 people who have come to offer a house blessing. She can’t seem to say “thank you” enough as she offers fried chicken and potato salad to her guests.
Many people spend their evenings and weekends leading up to Christmas scouring the local mall for the perfect gifts for their loved ones, planning their Christmas feast or decorating their house.
A portable Christmas tradition
Gabrielle Plenert of Winnipeg, Man., and her family spend their Christmas season rather differently.
That our planet is troubled and in need of the ‘light of the world’ to dawn on Christmas morning is evidenced by the first of our three seasonal feature articles, ‘Israeli development thwarts peace on earth . . . at least in Bethhehem.’
Embedded in the Christmas story is God’s desire for peace on our planet. Luke announced that “peace on earth” was the theme that the angelic choirs sang over the skies of Bethlehem on the night that the Saviour was born. We can conclude from their celestial anthem that God yearns for peace on earth.
1. In what ways are the people of your congregation involved with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)? Which generations are most involved? How high are the feelings of support and loyalty towards MCC? Do you know Mennonite churches that do not support MCC?
Worship is remembering, said the prophet Jeremiah. The past holds regenerative power.
I’m a human being living in Canada today because of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC); some of my family in southern Russia (now Ukraine) were rescued from famine and annihilation.
The MCC revisioning process seeks to address the tension of being rich Christians in an age of global inequality—an age in which golf tournaments in Manitoba (as shown by the cover of MCC Manitoba’s annual report, left) fund hurricane recovery efforts in Haiti. (MCC file photo by Ben Depp, right)
At a time when relief supplies can be purchased in countries close to disaster sites—providing stimulus to their often hard-hit local economies—does it make economic or environmental sense to continue making blankets and relief kits of all kinds in North America and then ship them around the world?
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is the largest and most influential Anabaptist organization in the world. It has nearly 1,200 workers and an annual budget of $82 million.
1. How many trees are planted annually in your community? Are they part of a community initiative? Who plants and waters them? How important is it to plant more trees?
2. In what situations would you cut down a tree in your yard? What are the advantages and disadvantages to having lots of trees in your neighbourhood? When might a tree be legitimately “in the way”?
“Richard Branson has offered a large prize to anyone who invents a device that will pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. God already invented this device, and we call it a tree.
On Oct. 2, 2006, the world was stunned by the killing of five Amish schoolgirls in a small schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa. Within hours, the Amish community forgave the gunman and rallied around his family.
A few years ago, when conducting research for my Ph.D. on Amish women in business, I visited a gift shop and noticed a rack of romance novels with pictures of Amish women on the cover. I asked the Amish business owner, “Do you sell a lot of these?”
“Yes,” she said. “The tourists like them.”
“Do Amish buy them?” I enquired.
“Well,” she said, “a lot of people read them.”
1. How well would you score on a college entrance biblical literacy quiz? Do you know the answers to the quiz on this page? How/where did you gain knowledge about the Bible?
1. Put the following biblical characters in chronological order.
A. Daniel / B. Adam / C. Moses / D. Paul / E. David
2. Match the quotes (A-E) with the speakers (1-5). Extra points if you know who each speaker was addressing.
If I want to become a citizen of the U.S., I need to take a citizenship test. Something similar occurs in Canada when someone wants to become a citizen of this country. The Canadian citizenship test evaluates an applicant’s knowledge of Canada, and includes questions about the government, elections, rights and responsibilities of citizens, and Canadian history and geography.
Ervin R. Stutzman, the new moderator of Mennonite Church U.S.A., loves the Bible. He recently shared his passion for knowing the Bible and its story with John Longhurst of Mennonite Publishing Network.
Longhurst: Why is it important to know the Bible?
Stutzman: The Bible provides both a window and a mirror for us.
Every year since 1995 Wheaton College—one of America’s preeminent Evangelical post-secondary schools—has tested the Bible knowledge of incoming freshmen students.
Just over 50 percent of Mennonite Church Canada congregations have their own websites. Next year that number will be higher.
1. How concerned would you be if you had Muslim neighbours? How fearful are most North Americans of Muslims? Is this fear justified? What would you say to those who oppose the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City? Do you think Muslim refugees are less welcome in Canada than other refugees?
On Spirituality chronicles the third Shi’i Muslim-Mennonite Christian dialogue that took place during the spring of 2007 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont.
Islam is one of the two largest religions in the world, with the other being Christianity. Figures differ, but it is clear that Islam is an alive and growing religion.
Ray and Susan Martin of East Zorra Mennonite Church, Tavistock, Ont., visit with Fauzia Mazhar and her daughter Mehar Nayyar at the Floradale potluck.
Grade 12 Rockway Mennonite students Zainab Ramahi, left, and Leanna Wigboldus lead a school chapel this spring.
Documentary filmmaker Burton Buller, back row centre in white shirt, joins the multiracial/multi-faith potluck line at Floradale Mennonite Church.
Burton Buller came to Ontario’s Waterloo Region this spring to explore the many Mennonite-Muslim activities taking place in the community for a new documentary exploring peace traditions in both the Christian and Muslim faiths.
1. How homogeneous is your congregation? How long does it take for “outsiders” to feel welcome? What extra challenges does someone from a visible minority have to feel accepted? What should Mennonite congregations do so that people from other cultures can feel welcomed and included?
The “What makes a Mennonite” brochure has been translated into Spanish, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Chin, while other language translations, such as Hmong and Laotian, are planned. These resources are available from the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre, Winnipeg
Once upon a time, Mennonite congregations in Canada could largely define themselves by German or Swiss Mennonite heritage, but no more.
According to research conducted by sociologists Curtiss Paul Deyoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey and Karen Chai Kim, 92.5 percent of Catholic and Protestant churches throughout the U.S. can be classified as “monoracial.” This term describes a church in which 80 percent or more of the individuals who attend are of the same ethnicity or race.
I travelled throughout Europe in the early 1980s. I had the opportunity to come across some Mennonites and learn something about Anabaptist history and teaching, preparing me for God’s leading to Vancouver, B.C., in the late ’90s, where I began serving with Chinese Grace Mennonite Church.