In 1981, the newly formed Emmanuel Mennonite Church drew on Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19 to express its purpose as a congregation: “To make disciples of all nations.” At the time, the intention was simply to begin an English-speaking church, but, in the years since, it seems to me that those words have proven to be more prophetic than anyone might have realized at the time.
Following are questions for reflecting on and discussing the Canadian Mennonite stories on the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission events in 2010:
When you pass by aboriginal people lying in the gutters on skid row, do you think that they are just “drunk Indians who need to get a job”?
Delegates to Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010 struggled with just how to confess systemic complicity in the Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors issue while not admitting to being directly abusive in non-existent Mennonite residential schools.
As prayers began, a hush fell over the crowd and numerous people pointed to the sky. The great spirit, the eagle, hovered overhead. Surely it was a clear sign of God’s presence and blessing as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) launch in Winnipeg, Man., drew to a close on June 19.
Leann Sleigh, painfully sharing how three generations of residential school forced family separation, sexual and physical abuse leading to alcoholism and parental abuse, offers her moccasins to a collection of native artifacts “for those who walked before us.” A read cedar box holding artifacts and documents was commissioned by the TRC as a “lasting tribute” to school survivors. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)
In the Learning Tent at The Forks, Jamie Monkman was one of the many poring over photo albums of class pictures from many of the Indian Residential Schools. “I am looking for pictures of my mom and granny, who went to the Norway House school,” she explained. The Learning Tent outlined the history of the Indian Residential Schools with phot displays and historical accounts. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)
As the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners begin their five-year sojourn across Canada to hear the stories of those who suffered under the Indian Residential School (IRS) system, Mennonites may well ask if or how they should be involved in this process.
The Poplar Hill (Ont.) Development School—the only Mennonite-affiliated school being officially looked at by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) currently making the rounds of Canadian communities—has been out of the news for more than two decades.
1. How involved is your congregation with Mennonite Church Canada? How do you get information about what MC Canada is doing? What would strengthen the connection between MC Canada and your congregation?
When the Worship Committee for Assembly 2010 couldn’t find a song that captured the essence of the theme, “Reclaiming Jesus™: Gladly Wear the Name,” Chad Miller and Doug Klassen teamed up to write one, aptly titled “Reclaim the Name.”
Q: What inspired you to write this piece?
For Bev Patkau, quilting is a labour of love, her fabric and thread a form of expression.
Congregational giving is up, so why are donations to area and national church bodies falling?
What started out as a small Saskatchewan church’s 2008 resolution to take acts of peace public has become a fairly widespread Canadian campaign with people all over the world getting on board.
After leading three study sessions on Colossians 3:15-17, the Bible theme text for Assembly 2010—Reclaiming Jesus: Gladly Wear the Name—retiring general secretary Robert J.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is changing how it does its work, but not the work itself.
1. How much does your congregation support Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)? Has this changed over the years? What MCC projects have you participated in? How satisfied are the people of your congregation with the mission and program emphases of MCC?
Here are multiple stories of how Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) began. One tells of Clayton Kratz, a young man who went to Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, to attempt to distribute aid to starving people in 1920, but disappeared and was never found.
Another details how Mennonites worked with the U.S. government to finally deliver relief supplies beginning in 1922.
1. Dick Benner writes that, “in Latino culture, time is not a commodity, but a gift to be enjoyed.” What experiences have you had with cultures that have a similar attitude towards time? Why do North Americans have trouble embracing this relaxed attitude about time? What is the relationship between the North American view of success and its view of time?
With an office in Edmonton, Alta., Dave Hubert, who founded Canadian Peacemakers International (CPI) in 1997 following a 23-year career in post-secondary education (including eight years as college president) and 10 years with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), is working with several partners in addressing poverty issues in Third World countries, particularly in Central America.
Members of the 11 families, gathered under a palm-laden, balloon-decorated pavilion, listen intently during the June 5 ceremonies giving them possession of their new homes.
Clinging to the hillside of their newly created village are nine of the 11 new homes dedicated and moved into during the weekend of June 5-6, a project of Canadian Peacemakers International (CPI).
Horacio Cardenes, 36, grins from ear to ear. His is one of 11 peasant families in a rural hillside village in northern Honduras that has just taken title to their first real house—a cement-block, two-bedroom abode that is, in his eyes, a mansion compared to what they now live in.
1. What experiences have you or your congregation had in sponsoring refugees? What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts? What motivates a congregation to sponsor a refugee family?
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario assists refugees who have suffered persecution, violence and human rights abuses to resettle in Canada through partnerships with churches and other constituencies.
A new Immigration Act for Canada in 1976 included a provision for private sponsorship of refugees. A Mennonite Member of Parliament, Jake Epp from Steinbach, Man., had been advocating this option in order for church and community groups—the private sector—to become involved in settling people in Canada.
Inspired by Western Canada’s prairie landscape and the ever-changing light in the sky there, Chai Bouphaphanh spends his leisure time exploring his surroundings through the lens of a camera. His most recent success is having a photograph that he entered in a contest selected for the National Geographic collection of photographs.
For Serge Kaptegaine, the opening ceremonies for Ref-Nyota, a new business venture that promotes the skills and talents of refugees, was an answer to prayer. The event was held at Le Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, Winnipeg, on April 23.