It is June 20, World Refugee Day. Near the Mexico-U.S. border, thousands of people are waiting. Fleeing conflict and violence in their own countries, they are seeking safety. Reports emerge of refugee children being detained and separated from their parents, who are also locked up. These families are torn apart by a policy of “zero tolerance” for so-called “illegal immigrants.”
The concept is simple. In a public place, an older adult sits on a green bench that is marked with the hashtag #ElderWisdom. Community members are invited to sit and engage in conversation about the senior’s life, experience and insights. Afterwards, community members can share about their experience on social media, using the hashtag.
Recently, my husband and I sat with friends at a table in an Ethiopian restaurant. As we dipped pieces of injera (sourdough flatbread) into the tasty sauces, we reported on our lives: a new business, a new grandchild, past school experiences, current professional realities.
Consider what happens when people gather around the table:
I don’t like the cover of today’s issue. I don’t want to see it lying on my coffee table. You probably don’t either. At the top, a large uniformed man wields a whip, as armed soldiers ride toward a house below. Red and yellow flames shoot up in the background.
Over the past few months I have had the privilege of seeing a whole new side of camps, and this experience has only confirmed and strengthened my belief in the importance of a camp ministry for the broader church.
What are the significant stories in this issue? When I asked this question in the office, the answer came back: “They’re all significant.” This, our Christmas issue, is chock-full of stories to pay attention to—with our prayers and actions.
Two international stories stand out—some good news and some heart-breaking news.
Almost 13 years ago my family said our final goodbye to my mother. Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber lived a full life on two continents, always actively participating in her extended family, church and larger community. I once observed that she and my dad “collected” friends everywhere they went. Our family’s dining room table always had room for guests, planned for or unexpected.
In the Future Directions conversations, many people expressed a lingering concern that the proposed regional network forming Mennonite Church Canada could cause us, as a church family, to lose a nationwide sense of shared mission and identity. The fear is that each region will be preoccupied with its own local agenda and, therefore, will pull back from connecting with the broader church.
Fourteen months have gone by since the conclusion of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process and the decision congregational delegates made at Assembly 2016. At the end of that seven-year process, a large majority of the delegates voted in favour of “creating space” for congregations to differ from one another when it comes to committed same-sex relationships.
Many of the stories in the pages of this magazine reflect the dreams of the people in our church family. There are stories of successful ministries, families reunited, young voices full of energy and hope. We also read stories of broken relationships, unanticipated outcomes, and of God at work in miraculous, unplanned and unexpected ways.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about missions. The feature in this issue is Part 2 in a series focussing on partnerships between congregations and Witness workers. These workers were sent by Mennonite Church Canada on our behalf, to use their skills and their passions alongside local Christians for the work of God in those unique settings.
Recently I sat in an audience of several hundred Christian communicators and watched the feature film, Silence, by accomplished American director Martin Scorsese.
The movie was released in January, but—movie buffs that we are—my husband and I did not race out to see it in the local theatre. The subject is martyrdom.
As I began writing this, my Twitter and Facebook feeds reported news about a gun attack on an Egyptian bus carrying Coptic Christians. The world gasped and wept—once again. The people of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan struggle with the enormous challenge of caring for thousands of people fleeing violence in their neighbouring homeland. From the West Bank we hear news of more house demolitions.