Through the frantic Christmas season, I was part of many gatherings connected to churches, families, schools and workplace settings. All were good.
A thoroughly ragged and stained potholder has hung next to my kitchen stove ever since 1988. It was stitched together from scraps of cloth by some unknown Pennsylvania Mennonite. In those days, a group of women made potholders for every person who came through Akron, Pa., for a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) orientation before a term of service.
Two years ago I embarked on a Bible reading challenge. What started as an attempt to read the Bible in a year, morphed into a slower reading and reflection practice.
“Where are you, Mennonites?”
A colleague and I are in a Winnipeg café discussing the current land struggles of many Indigenous peoples. I listen intently as she speaks of the Unist’ot’en, Muskrat Falls and the Tiny House Warriors. I nod my head in understanding and offer affirming murmurs. But then, halfway through tea, she looks at me impatiently.
In 1968, 115 Westgate Mennonite Collegiate students joined 2,000 members of Students for Educational Equality and Democracy (SEED) for a rally at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg. These students of private and parochial schools were seeking provincial funding, as recommended by a royal commission in Manitoba a decade before.
After the hour-long drive home from my sister’s with my four very energetic kids, I had had enough! Trying to quiet down hyper kids while driving is not an easy feat. Not wanting to yell at them over and over, I gave up and succumbed to their antics, eagerly longing for our driveway. I called my husband and said I would need serious backup upon arrival; I was spent!
“The turkey tasted just like my mom’s turkey.” So said Sandra, a recent newcomer to Canada from Colombia. She was part of the First Mennonite Church (Kitchener) annual Christmas dinner. Our congregation’s tradition is to have both Canadian turkey and El Salvadoran turkey, mashed potatoes and rice, gravy and sauce.
Henry “Sherlock” Friesen is a long-time Abundance Canada client. He follows a well-thought-out generosity plan that includes making regular charitable donations from his gifting fund. This methodical approach to charitable giving suits his analytical nature.
I’ve become aware of various patterns and cycles in my life. One of them is a regular oscillation between two different “kinds” or phases of faith. Sometimes I remain in one phase for years and sometimes I alternate between the two phases multiple times a day.
The first phase is what I call pragmatic faith.
10. Accomplish more by scheduling longer and more frequent committee meetings.
9. Make the world a better place by pointing out how everyone else needs to change.
MCC recommendations for new federal government
The following is a shortened version of a Nov. 8 letter sent from the Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa Office to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with copies to the leaders of the four opposition parties.
What is our responsibility as followers of Jesus to media outlets?
At the Public Archives in Ottawa in 1968, Ted Regehr, head of the Government Records Section, standing, helps research assistant Ernie Dick locate government files related to Mennonites. The two were assisting historian Frank H. Epp with a monumental history of Mennonites in Canada project.
Christmas is the season when we talk about how the birth of the baby Jesus brings hope. Hope implies some sort of betterment to come. So Jesus is our hope. But hope for the future is a crucial question for many people in these days of political polarization, rising global inequality, global ecological degradation and growing issues of mental health.
They come through the church door into the foyer. My limited vision can make out only their forms, but I recognize them, desperate folks who stop by on occasion to check out the food supplies available that day.
“Not another visioning process” was a common reaction when I presented the idea of a year of visioning and discernment at Mennonite Church Alberta’s 2018 annual delegate sessions. The restructuring of MC Canada meant a shift in responsibilities for MC Alberta, and a focus on congregations as the centre of mission.
Mennonites lived in Prussia/Poland for more than 400 years, but our understanding of the Mennonite experience in this area requires further study. This is the former Mennonite church at Rosengart (now Rozgart), near Elbing (now Elblag). Peter Klassen (1930-2019) has worked hard at shedding light on the Mennonite experience in Prussia.
In my work with single, high-risk mothers and women who experience abuse in intimate relationships, many conversations about forgiveness have arisen. I recently shared about choosing the path of forgiveness and I could instantly feel the tension rise. Their bodies shifted, their breath became short, their brows furrowed.
It was Sunday morning on a Mennonite Church Canada Joint Council meeting weekend. We divided up into three groups to visit three different congregations and then we regrouped over a late pizza lunch to hear about the visits.
“Christianese” is what some people call insider jargon Christians use to talk about God and faith. One of the primary problems with Christianese is that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders. Someone once compared it to legalese, which has its place and purpose, but is confusing and meaningless to people who aren’t lawyers.
There’s canola in my bed and it makes me smile.
Perhaps I should explain.
Readers raised on fruit farms—including this archivist—may remember the high-pitched whine of an orchard pesticide sprayer in action. Pictured, Peter J. Sawatzky of Ruthven, Ont., is operating a “speed-sprayer” in his apple orchard.