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We need ‘Emmanuel’ like never before

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Today

If ever we needed to hear “Emmanuel” (God with us), it is during this Advent season as we wind up the year 2016. With violence prevailing in war-torn countries, and political upheaval changing the face of our neighbour to the south, not to mention changes in our own denominational structure, we seem to be groping for a divine peace like never before.

Spirit-heat to thaw your freezing blood

‘Good King Wenceslas’ biscuit tin covers (above and at left) in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, made by Hudson, Scott & Sons for Huntley and Palmers, 1913.

Feature | By Layton Friesen | Today

“Good King Wenceslas” is not the most sing-able of carols and the lyrics are on the King James end of archaic. You may have assumed this 10th-century legend is about the spirit of the Yule and putting a penny in the old man’s hat. Let’s look again. See what you think of the conversion of his servant, the Page. (You can find the lyrics after the discussion questions below.)

Readers write: December 12, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Today

Is the Doctrine of Discovery yesterday’s news?

Re: “Discovering humility” column, Sept. 26, page 7.

It seems Pope Paul III may have spoken to the Doctrine of Discovery already, in his 1537 papal encyclical:

The new normal now

Ken Warkentin
Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Today

For the past two months I have been living with post-concussion syndrome after an incident that involved a bear, a rock and the rain.

Are we living in the last millennium?

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Today

No one would doubt that Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University theoretical physicist and cosmologist, is one of the more brilliant minds of recent times. The guy forgets more in a day then I’ll learn in a lifetime. The Theory of Everything, the movie of his marriages, his journey with early-onset Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS—more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), and his rise to fame, is a great watch and stirs much thought about the nature of love, faith and science. Hawking intrigues and he has wide influence.

Church wants to spread the ‘Living Word’

Pastor Getachew Woldeyes, left, and Elder Rediet Lemichael of Church of the Living Word in Ottawa, an Ethiopian emerging congregation in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalksy)

Viewpoints | By Dave Rogalsky | Today

Church of the Living Word in Ottawa became an emerging church in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada in 2009, although it was founded four years earlier.

Church of the Living Word has some members, including Pastor Getachew Woldeyes’s wife, who belonged to Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, a Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member church.

Understanding opponents of LGBTQ inclusion

Will Braun
Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Today

Officially, the resolution creating greater openness to LGBTQ people received 85 percent support at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly. That number is incomplete—more on that below—but it establishes a new narrative in which a majority within MC Canada expresses a degree of openness toward LGBTQ inclusion. So what about the people excluded from that narrative?

Viewpoints: Calls for understanding and repentance

Viewpoints | Today

These are two responses to Will Braun’s ‘Understanding opponents of LGBTQ inclusion’ column.

No. 1: Seeking ways to move forward

By Lois Epp

Coaldale baptism

Photo from Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies/Mennonite Archival Image Database-

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Today

This classic baptism photo from Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church has been incorrectly dated as from the 1940s. Dedicated volunteers, who have a long-standing passion for the history of the church and a long institutional memory, believed there was an error in the description. With some effort, they found two newspaper reports that gave the details of the event. Now the record can be corrected: This photo is of a joint baptism service of the Lethbridge and Coaldale Mennonite Brethren churches. The service was held on Sept.

Future Directions: Take Two

Pictured from left to right, the Interim Council is composed of: Keith Regehr, transition coordinator; Aldred Neufeldt, vice-moderator of MC Canada; Paul Wideman, MC Eastern Canada moderator; Willard Metzger, MC Canada executive director; Dan Jack, MC Alberta moderator; Calvin Quan, MC Canada moderator; Ken Warkentin, MC Saskatchewan moderator; Peter Rempel, MC Manitoba moderator; and Lee Dyck, MC B.C. moderator. (Interim Council photo)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Today

Faced with a funding crisis, sliding attendance and shifting cultural contexts, the response of Mennonite Church Canada and the five area churches has been a five-year process of restructuring denominational offices.

Peter Rempel—moderator of Mennonite Church Manitoba and a veteran of other restructuring processes—says pastors tell him that 90 percent of people in the pews are disinterested in the process.

Future Directions Dream

Will Braun
Web First | By Will Braun | Today

I want to be excited about church.          

I do not attend regional or national assemblies, but I care deeply about the broader church. I would rather hang out with my boys than attend a meeting to discuss a wordy Future Directions report, but I would clear my schedule to sit in a circle with others to share our passions about church.

Future Directions process accelerated

Coreena Stewart, MC Canada’s chief administrative officer, left; Alissa Bender, pastor of Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church; and Calvin Quan, MC Canada moderator, visit before a pastors supper during the MC Canada fall leadership assembly held at Toronto United Mennonite Church on Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Today

“The timeline [for the Future Directions plan] from Saskatoon did not reflect what was possible,” Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, told the denomination’s fall leadership assembly in Toronto on Nov. 10, 2016.

‘When all you have is a hammer . . .’

Tom Yoder Neufeld, left, a retired Conrad Grebel University College professor, and Renate Klaassen from St. Catharines United Mennonite Church, centre, interact with Carol Penner after her presentation at Grebel’s annual pastors breakfast. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Today

Carol Penner went into ministry to be a “humble tool in God’s tool box—to preach, go to meetings and love people,” like the hammer she brought to the lectern  with her. “But,” she said during her address to the annual Conrad Grebel University College pastors breakfast on Nov. 1, 2016, “the church is in a different space now.”

‘In the midst of suffering, faith does not disappear’

A worker for the Middle East Council of Churches delivers a Mennonite Central Committee relief kit to Sosamma, 91, who left her home after a missile hit it this past summer. (Real names are not used for security purposes.) Photo courtesy of the Middle East Council of Churches

God at work in the World | By Rachel Bergen | Today

In October 2016, students arriving at a Christian school in Aleppo, Syria, discovered that a rocket had blown out a portion of a classroom. So many rockets were landing in the area that the school administrators hadn’t yet realized the school was hit.

‘Mennonites, land and the environment’

Gordon Zerbe

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Today

Academics, students, independent researchers and lay people alike gathered at the University of Winnipeg in late October 2016 for a global history conference on “Mennonites, land and the environment.”

Assembly 2016 resolution about more than BDS

Just outside Bethlehem, Palestine, an 8.5-metre-high concrete separation barrier covering more than 700 kilometres obstructs the free movement of thousands of Palestinians. The wall is viewed by Israel as a security barrier; Palestinians view it as a wall of oppression. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Today

“In this resolution we are not taking sides between Israel and Palestine,” said Palmer Becker at Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016. “We support the need for a safe place to live for both Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. We grieve whenever there is loss of life, whether that is Palestinian or Israeli.”

The resolution supporting justice for Palestinian and Israeli people was moved by Byron Rempel-Burkholder in response to a request from Palestinian Christians, and seconded by Becker.

Missionaries’ influence spans the generations

The Derksen and Higashiguchi families celebrate together during a visit in 2007. Picture from left to right: Junko and Masaki Higashiguchi, Peter and Mary Derksen, and the Higashiguchi children and grandchildren. (Photo courtesy of Mary Derksen)

God at work in Us | By Barb Draper | Today

Missions is not a very popular word in some circles these days, but when Masaki Higashiguchi visited Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., on Oct. 30, 2016, it was a reminder that missionaries of the past have made an impact. Masaki is a high school teacher in Takachiho, Japan, who is taking a study leave in Canada. After spending a year in Prince Edward Island, he moved to North Vancouver in July, and he and his family plan to return to Japan in January.

‘Marriage geek’ offers her take on love and fidelity

Artbeat | By Kelley Hughes | Today

If self-confessed “marriage geek” Katherine Willis Pershey knows one thing after 14 years of marriage, it’s that couples bound together in a sacred covenant need more than cheery how-to advice on achieving marital bliss.

The author and pastor offers a bracing dose of reality about the “agony, ecstasy, and tedium of wedlock” in her new book, Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity from Herald Press.

Voices singing ‘Let’s be jolly’ . . .

American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens is well known for his 10 Christmas EPs. (Photo by Denny Renshaw)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Today

Nolan Kehler knows a thing or two about music. In addition to studying vocal performance at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, the 22-year-old works part-time as an AM radio DJ and also as a producer for CBC Manitoba.

Kehler has played drums for a number of Winnipeg musical acts, including Pocket Change, Kenzie Jane, and Rhia Rae and the Rubies. If that weren’t enough musical involvement, he is also the founder and editor of a blog that is posting reviews of each album on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 greatest albums of all time.

Painting as problem-solving

‘The Walls Fall Back and the Night is Fluid’ (2016) by Megan Krause is one of several pieces included in her Fertile Ash exhibit. The painting was created using India ink, acrylic and oil on panel.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Today

For Winnipeg artist Megan Krause, painting is a process of problem solving.

“I never plan a piece ahead of time. Not anymore, anyway,” the 32-year-old says. “It’s all intuitively done.”

Krause starts her paintings by playing and experimenting with how to apply the paint, dripping here and splattering there to see what happens. Then she begins to shape the painting.

‘Thanks to God, I have a new house’

Digna Macias and her daughter, Nidia Palma, stand in front of their new earthquake- and flood-proof home, which was built by Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana (IEME), a Mennonite Central Committee partner, after an earthquake struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador in April. (Photo courtesy of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Yesterday

Digna Macias remembers clinging to a door frame in her home in Manta, Ecuador, while the walls fell around her last April following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador, where she lives.

Fortunately, neither Macias, nor her daughter, Nidia Palma, who lives with her, were injured badly, but 668 died, more than 4,800 were injured and 80,000 people were displaced in in the country.

Roi des Rois interested in God’s kingdom realized

Lyne Renaud, left, and Michel Monette share their vision for a church in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area of Montreal at the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering in 2015, in Leamington, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Yesterday

Twenty-five years ago, Michel Monette was selling encyclopaedias door to door seven days a week. One of his fellow salesmen, a Mennonite Brethren man, would take Sundays off to go to a local evangelical church and would do the same Wednesday evenings for Bible study. On Halloween Eve 1991 in Rouyn-Noranda, Monette said to the man, “If you’re such a good salesman, sell me on your God.”

Winnipeg church hosts event of solidarity with Dakota Access protests

The logo of Mennonite Church USA flies alongside those of other organizations protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. (Photo by Tim Nafziger)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Yesterday

Hundreds of concerned American citizens gathered peacefully to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and pray on Nov 26, 2016. At the same time, dozens more gathered at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg to add their voices.

Customs vary among Ontario Amish

The Amish of Milverton, Ont., use open buggies with slow-moving-vehicle signs. The various Ontario Amish settlements have their own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Nov 30, 2016

The Amish in Ontario are a diverse group, explained Fred Lichti at the fall meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, held on Oct. 15, 2016, at Milverton Mennonite Fellowship. Milverton is a small town a half hour west of Kitchener-Waterloo.

There are 21 different Amish settlements or communities mostly scattered throughout southern Ontario. Each of these settlements has its own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community.

A new conversation about dementia

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 16, 2016 | 3 comments

When the diagnosis of dementia hits you up close and personal, as it has me with the decline of my spouse Marlene due to the disease, it sends you on a grief journey that clouds your perspective on life. The questions come fast and furious.

Why did this happen to her, a person so dynamic and useful, so looking forward to fulfillment of dreams at the end of the road, to spending time with family and friends, perhaps some travelling and learning of other cultures, being a gracious grandmother and enjoying the special bond of close friends going through the aging process?