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Farewell, my friends

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017

It’s been a good eight-year ride, my friends, with a few bumps along the way. I will miss this biweekly meeting with you on the second page of Canadian Mennonite. While it’s been a monologue, I have felt it had the makings of a dialogue, of one friend sharing thoughts with another friend. I have tried to make it more of a conversation than a lecture.

Dependent on God’s mercy

‘The Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector’ (acrylic on canvas, detail), artwork by Rebecca Brogan, John the Baptist Artworks, Tasmania (jtbarts.com), used by permission.

Feature | By Dan Kehler | Mar 22, 2017

A Pharisee and a tax collector
This parable of Jesus seems self-evident. It compares the attitude of two men’s prayers: a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee’s seems rather arrogant, while the tax collector’s only petition is of God’s mercy. The Pharisee’s self-centred prayer is all about his supposed place in God’s favour. The tax collector’s prayer is humbly centred on God. In the end, it is only the prayer of the humble one that God hears with favour. For only the tax collector goes home justified; that is, he is made right with God.

Readers write: March 27, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Mar 22, 2017

That’s not who we are . . . as Mennonites or Muslims

Re: “A not-so-pure depiction of Mennonites,” Feb. 13, page 20.

I read with interest the various online responses by Mennonites concerned about how Mennonites are depicted in the CBC drama series Pure.

The power of imagination

Tim Froese
Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Mar 22, 2017

When communicating about the ministries of Mennonite Church Canada Witness, my former colleague Al Rempel used to tell me, “Help your listeners imagine the work that is being done.”

Unveiling secrets

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Mar 22, 2017

One day my normally cheerful, no-nonsense coworker surprised, or I should say shocked, me. She suddenly and briefly opened the door to her past, a dangerous time of war and famine.

“Those days were horrible,” she said fiercely in a low voice. “Things were so bad, they ate people. We never speak of them.”

Just as suddenly, the door swung shut, and she turned away from me and toward other tasks. I was young and curious, but I knew not to pursue her or the topic.

Giving as protest

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen
Viewpoints | By Dori Zerbe Cornelsen | Mar 22, 2017

Does the headline for this article pique your curiosity or does it irritate you? The word “protest” often evokes strong positive or negative emotions. Like it or not, we seem to be in a time marked by protests of one kind or another.

Beyond giving as duty, the Bible offers us an array of metaphors for giving that can move us to live more generously. The story of the widow’s offering told in the gospels of Mark and Luke offers us one of those metaphors.

Coaldale Nurses

Photo: MB Herald Photograph Collection / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Mar 22, 2017

This photo of six nurses from Coaldale, Alta., and the surrounding area was taken in the 1950s. Pictured from left to right: M. Willms, H. Toews, M. Dick and H. Reimer of Coaldale, with M. Janzen of Pincher Creek and M. Dyck of Grassy Lake. Can anyone provide first names of the people pictured? The medical field was an area in which Mennonite women found public service careers. Aiding people in need fit well with Mennonite sensibilities for service.

archives.mhsc.ca/coaldale-nurses

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 6)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Mar 22, 2017

Fourteen years ago, I asked my handy friend, Carm, if I could hire him to do a flooring renovation. He said, “No. But I’ll teach you how to do it for free.”  

It’s time to do ‘something constructive together’

Worship band members from Elmira’s Zion Mennonite Fellowship lead singing at the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners worship gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on Jan. 15, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

Evangelical Anabaptist Partners (EAP) is a loosely affiliated group of pastors and lay people from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada who have been gathering regularly for worship, mutual encouragement, fellowship and discussion about their mission in the world.

At a recent monthly Sunday evening gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., Craig Frere, the host pastor, challenged the 90 people present to have a faith that extended beyond Sundays into the whole week, “being good news to others” and “being the church on the way” through life.

MC Saskatchewan ‘extends the table’

The Gospel According to Food, a play written and performed by members of Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, encourages MC Saskatchewan delegates to re-examine their relationship with food. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 22, 2017

“Extending the table: Enough for all.” That was the theme chosen for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions this year, and as delegates and guests broke bread together, literally and metaphorically, they found there was indeed enough for all.

Held March 10 and 11, 2017, at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, the sessions were co-hosted by the Nutana Park and Pleasant Point Mennonite congregations.

MEI student dies on ski trip

Julian Osis

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 22, 2017

A school outing turned to tragedy on March 3, 2017, when a student from Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) in Abbotsford died during a ski trip to Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.

Reports said an unresponsive male was found at the bottom of Blackcomb Mountain after he was reported missing in the afternoon. The student’s name was not officially released to news media, but links on the MEI website identified him as Julian Osis, 14.

‘Being like a family’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, centre, leads a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Mar 22, 2017

Mennonite Church Manitoba gave its final comments on the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 process, which has dominated public attention since last summer, at the area church’s annual general meeting held the first weekend in March 2017, at Winkler Mennonite Church.

In an official statement, “Responding to BFC 7,” the area church “recognizes and endorses the recommendations” of the BFC Task Force, commending local congregations to continue in prayer, study and humble mutual respect:

A ‘manufactured narrative’?

Dick Benner
God at work in the Church | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017

“Moral selectivity is worse than immorality,” insisted Omar Ramahl, a Muslim Canadian invited to address an adult Sunday school class at Waterloo North Mennonite Church recently, to give his perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was referring to the biblical narrative that justifies occupation and injustice as a “manufactured narrative.”

A voice from ‘outside the gate’

Victor and Rebecca Fast, left, and Martha and Paul Snyder meet to share the story of the Parents Group (of LGBTQ children), which they had been members of for 30 years before disbanding it last fall. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

“We are exhausted.”

So say members of a group of Mennonite parents of LGBTQ children, who met together for 30 years to worship, pray, exchange stories and support each other and their children, of their decision to call it quits last fall, as age and changing times have taken their toll.

Evangelistic work still paying dividends today

Bible study in the Martins’ basement apartment in 1958. Pictured from left to right: Pauline Reesor, Marc Reesor, Christian Chano, Deborah Martin, Harold Reesor and Mr. Chano from France, their first contact. (Photo courtesy of Tilman Martin)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

Tilman Martin turned 90 on Jan. 3, 2017. He is the last of the four original church planters sent from Ontario to Quebec in 1956 whose work continues to pay dividends to this day. The other original planters were the late Harold (d. March 12, 2017) and Pauline (d. April 6, 1980) Reesor from Wideman Mennonite Church in Markham; and Janet (Mills) Martin (d. July 29, 2002) from St. Jacobs Mennonite Church.

Step back in history

Brubacher House was built in 1850 in a style typical of Pennsylvania German architecture. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017 | 1 comment

Joshua Enns goes through less than two kilograms of flour each week baking bread for himself and his wife Laura. By comparison, the original inhabitants of the house they live in went through 45 kilos.

Playing for fun and credit

Anna Lysack has played the violin for 15 years. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017

Legendary rock ‘n’ roll drummers Keith Moon and Neil Peart inspired Matt Schellenberg to get into percussion, but it’s Bach and Beethoven that he will be playing when he performs next month.

Schellenberg is one of a handful of young adults who are members of the Mennonite Community Orchestra (MCO) in Winnipeg. The MCO is the orchestra-in-residence at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and consists of more than 50 professional and amateur musicians; it will perform its annual spring concert on April 9, 2017, in the chapel at CMU.

Mennonite observes Lent with ‘Fast for Healing Justice’ and tweets to Trump

Daryl Byler, executive director of Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, began a 40-day fast on Ash Wednesday 2017. His daily thoughts, addressed to President Donald J. Trump, combine readings from the Presbyterian lectionary with meditation on the themes of justice and healing for the United States. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Mar 21, 2017

In preparation for his 40-day fast, which began on March 1, Ash Wednesday, Daryl Byler made a few changes to his recreational reading. This lawyer, ordained minister and executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University favors non-fiction and legal thrillers.

Recently, however, Byler has been meditating on the Presbyterian daily lectionary—the faith tradition of President Donald J. Trump—and listening to the thoughts and ideologies that Trump has expressed in his many books.

Is there room enough for hope?

Mary Jo Leddy, left, poses with Lorna Sawatzky at the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar lecture on March 3. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

Mary Jo Leddy asked those gathered on a cold Canadian evening in Waterloo what kind of Canada they want to be part of: one that is mean and nasty, with borders open for business but not for refugees? Or a Canada that is just, good, caring and decent with borders open to invite people to join in the responsibility for this place?

Leddy, the director of Romero House in Toronto, a transition house for refugees, was the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky visiting scholar at Conrad Grebel University College, who spoke on March 3.

‘Communities so full of love that it’s contagious’

Monday Night Peacemeal members meet weekly to share food, concerns and events in their personal lives, as a step towards living with each other in the vulnerability and accountability evident in true community. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nimz)

Web First | Mar 21, 2017

Trusting enough to be vulnerable and the willingness to be accountable are key intentional acts needed to build true community. In the extensively secularized culture of England, self-reliance and independence are seen as ultimate strengths, but being vulnerable is seen as a weakness. So how does one encourage true community there?

Ministry on a human scale

Mandy Smith leads Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors in an exercise delving into their fear and shame of not being enough to truly serve God at the annual School for Ministers on Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

“Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything) / That's how the light gets in.”

EMU alumnus among those kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official and former Mennonite Central Committee peace worker, has been reported kidnapped with five others by unknown assailants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this 2015 photo provided by MCC, he visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Jana Asenbrennerova, used with permission)

Web First | Mar 15, 2017

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official, was among six people kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a press release issued Monday by the Congolese government.

He was part of a UN panel of experts investigating ongoing civil conflicts in the country, according to Al Jazeera. A second UN worker, Zaida Catalan, was also kidnapped as well as four Congolese nationals, according to reports. Catalan’s nationality is variously reported as Swedish or Chilean.

‘Land rights apply to my church and my home’

Junia, seven months, and her mother Kandace Boos plan to walk the 600-kilometre Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. (Photo courtesy of Kandace Boos)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Mar 11, 2017

Nine-month-old Junia has just become the youngest participant to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600-kilometre walk through from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., to Ottawa, taking place from April 23 to May 14, 2017.

Kandace Boos, 28, Junia’s mother, will put in the grunt work of carrying Junia on her back, alongside her task of documenting the walk through her art. Boos is an urban sketch artist, part of a global community of artists who practise drawing in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to.

The past as prologue

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 08, 2017

“While Anabaptists affirm the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture, we are not strict literalists,” writes Palmer Becker in his just-released book, Anabaptist Essentials. This Canadian pastor, educator and missionary makes his point from no less than our Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, a document being held up as something of a Mennonite creed by some biblical literalists.

Rolled away

‘All levels of belief—or lack of it—are present in our churches and the world on Easter morning, and they hear the proclamation, “He is risen indeed,” ’  (Photo:  Image © istock.com/RomaloTavani)

Feature | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Mar 08, 2017

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

I always love this joyful affirmation of life and hope on Easter morning. When it is still grey and cold outside, when the world news is so overwhelmingly negative, when many are dealing with losses and heartache, it is so amazing to be able to say: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”

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