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Ten years later

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 10, 2016 | 2 comments

Come with us as we look into the future ten years from now (2026), if the recommendations of the Future Directions Task Force are followed in their present form. Regional clusters of congregations have been asked to pick up the functions of Mennonite Church Canada which was disbanded in 2018.

The clusters were handed the roles of global witness, faith formation and developing their own worship resources. An executive minister was appointed to assist and manage these roles.

What is ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’?

‘The marriage at Cana’ by Marten de Vos, c. 1596.

Feature | By Darrin W. Snyder Belousek | Feb 10, 2016 | 1 comment

In a time when western society is rapidly altering its image of marriage and government institutions have legally recognized same-sex marriage, the church is pressed to decide: Shall we follow suit?

Readers write: February 15, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Feb 10, 2016

Giving and receiving are complicated transactions

Re: “God loves a cheerful receiver,” Jan. 4, page 9.

When I receive a gift accompanied by a script dictating my response, I feel like returning that gift. I do not feel grateful; I feel controlled. That’s how I felt when I read Arnie Friesen’s “God, Money and Me” column.

We are not in control

Ryan Siemens
Viewpoints | By Ryan Siemens | Feb 10, 2016

Summers in central Saskatchewan are short. Okay, they’re too short. And so when the snow finally melts, the ice disappears and the risk of frost is nearly non-existent, we clear out of the cities (and the pews) and head into the wilderness.

What keeps you up at night?

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Feb 10, 2016

What keeps you up at night? Your kids? Your bank account? Church problems? Your fears? Your enemies? Your self-justifications? Your habits? Your faults? Other people’s faults? Your hopes and goals?

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2). So, does this mean God doesn’t love me if I can’t sleep? Now there’s another reason to lie restlessly staring at the ceiling!

Blessed in the journey

Khamphong Phommaseng
Viewpoints | By Khamphong Phommaseng | Feb 10, 2016

In 1980, Grantham Mennonite Brethren Church in St. Catharines, Ont., sponsored me to come to Canada. I had been living in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand, for a year after fleeing Laos due to communism and civil war. When I arrived in Canada, the Mennonite Church warmly welcomed me, although I did not speak English very well. At that time I discovered that there was a small community of Laotian Christians at the St. Catharines Mennonite Church and my journey to Christ began with this congregation.

Where the ‘good news’ is

Pieter Niemeyer
Viewpoints | By Pieter Niemeyer | Feb 10, 2016

Are you wondering where the good news is? It is in surprising and unexpected places.

Mennonite refugees arrive in Waterloo

Photo: Herbert Enns/Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Feb 10, 2016

A camera captures the moment on July 19, 1924, when Mennonite immigrants from Russia met their “Swiss” Mennonite cousins in Ontario. The so-called Swiss Mennonites were the first Mennonites to immigrate to Canada, beginning in the late 1700s. They were followed by the Amish, who arrived directly from Europe, beginning in the 1820s. The Russian Mennonites who arrived in 1924 were the first from Russia to settle permanently in Ontario. These early groups were billeted briefly in Swiss Mennonite homes.

Future Directions: Myths and message

God at work in the Church | By Future Directions Task Force | Feb 10, 2016

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. . . Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. —poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke

Mennonite Heritage Museum opens in B.C.

Cutting the ribbon to open the new Mennonite Heritage Museum are, from left: Richard Thiessen, executive director of the museum; Peter Redekop, president of the Mennonite Museum Society; and Christy Clark, premier of B.C.  Mennonites in B.C. now have a central place to learn about and research the origins of their faith and family. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 10, 2016 | 1 comment

The dream of a heritage museum for B.C. Mennonites to tell their story became reality Jan. 22, 2016, when hundreds, including B.C. Premier Christy Clark, gathered for the grand opening of the Mennonite Heritage Museum (MHM) in Abbotsford.

Hearing stories dispels fear

Glad for an opportunity to relax after a week of exams, Saskatchewan youth listen to Cory Funk’s presentation at this year’s SMYO senior high retreat. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Feb 10, 2016

Retreats present opportunities for building relationships and hearing one another’s stories. Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s senior high retreat, held January 29 to 30, 2016, at Shekinah Retreat Centre, was just such a retreat.

Evangelical Anabaptist Network generates hope and frustration

Left to right: Ryan Jantzi, pastor of the Kingsfield-Zurich Mennonite Church, John Troyer of EVANA, Ron Weber from the Listowel Mennonite Church, and Dianne Roeder from Calvary Church, an MCEC congregation in Ayr, visit during a break at the EVANA workshop at Maple View Mennonite Church on Jan. 22, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 10, 2016

On January 22 to 23, 2016, Maple View Mennonite Church, with its pastor Brent Kipfer, sponsored the first Canadian workshop of the Evangelical Anabaptist Network (EVANA). Located west of Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont., the church is a member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC).

Reconciliation requires an end to guilty white inhibition

Chief Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation shows Rich Coleman, B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development, the site for a liquefied natural gas terminal near kitimat, B.C. Chief Ross favours this project but was strongly opposed to a Northern Gateway crude oil pipeline.

© “Minister Coleman Tours Northwest LNG Sites” by Province of British Columbia bit.ly/1nQa3sb Licensed under CC BY 2.0

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 10, 2016

The door to reconciliation is open further now than ever before in Canada. From Trudeau to church organizers I speak with, interest in improving relations between indigenous and non-indigenous people is far greater than even a few years ago. Yet most of the discussion leaves me feeling hollow.

If we are to seize this moment, which will likely start to fade in a few years, the discourse will need to be more practical, creative and nuanced than much of what I see.

Young entrepreneur balances profit, community and faith

Matthew Penner (right) meets with clients. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Penner)

God at work in Us | By J. Neufeld | Feb 10, 2016

Matthew Penner loves airports. Sometimes he rides his bicycle to the airport in Steinbach and simply sits next to the runway. “I would call it a sacred place for me to go and experience God’s closeness,” he says.

Penner, a pilot and a 29-year-old entrepreneur who founded his own marketing company called Three Six North, was recently among 20 young professionals honoured by the business-focused development organization Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

More than just punchlines

Falk talks with acclaimed novelist Miriam Toews about the humour in her work. (Photo courtesy of Prairie Boy Productions)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 10, 2016

What makes Mennonites funny, and what does their sense of humour say about them?

Those are the questions at the heart of That Mennonite Joke, a new documentary from Prairie Boy Productions. Written and directed by Winnipeg filmmaker Orlando Braun, the documentary follows Niverville, Man., comedian Matt Falk as he traces the roots of Mennonite humour.

“I’m not trying to figure out what makes them funny so I can laugh at them,” says Falk, 26. “I’m trying to figure out what we’re already laughing at so I can bring other people in on the joke.”

Set up to succeed

‘I began university more prepared than most,’ says Amy Matychuk. ‘However, it’s important for me to acknowledge that I was set up to succeed.’ (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Amy Matychuk | Feb 10, 2016

I paid for my undergraduate degree with scholarships and my own savings, and graduated without student debt. I am touchy about this. I tell anyone listening about how expensive it was, how I kept my grades high and earned scholarships, what weird part-time work I did and the imaginative ways I found to save money. I’m proud of myself, and I want other people to recognize the hard work and sacrifice that went into this achievement.

What people want to know about Mennonites

Erwin and Angela Rempel serve as volunteers at Third Way, a portal to information about Mennonites and Anabaptists. They respond personally to questions that the website doesn’t answer directly. (MennoMedia photo)

Web First | Feb 08, 2016

The Third Way website was re-launched last April, and by late 2015 daily visitors were averaging 750 or more. Many are seeking information about Mennonites, their beliefs and practices.

Mennonites active in Ukraine

The Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Ukraine. Personnel from various Mennonite organizations are active in Ukraine, in economic support, education, health and social organizations, peace and justice concerns, seniors care, and evangelistic programs. (Photo courtesy of Victor Kliewer)

Web First | By Victor Kliewer | Feb 08, 2016

Various Mennonite groups and agencies have been working in Ukraine since the late 1980s, and representatives of eight organizations met in Winnipeg on Jan. 25, 2016, for an annual review of their activities. Most of the work has been done in the area of Zaporizhzhya—the area of the former Mennonite Chortitza Colony—and in the area of the former Molotschna Colony.

Mennonite heritage tours of Ukraine during the past 20 years have made North American Mennonites aware of the great social needs.

Project Ploughshares begins a new furrow

Executive director Cesar Jaramillo sits in his Project Ploughshares’ office, located at the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 08, 2016

Cesar Jaramillo, executive director at Project Ploughshares since last July, knows first-hand the need for new ways of dealing with conflict and violence.

He and his wife Paula Cardenas arrived in Toronto in January 2005 as political refugees from Colombia. Cardenas’s father was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and held for ransom, and Jaramillo was the one who was sent to a remote mountain location with the money to secure his father-in-law’s release.

Video: Christ at the coffee shop

Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Web First | Feb 03, 2016

In the spring of 2015, Pastor Kassa Lemma of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto invited Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director Willard Metzger to speak at an Ethiopian evangelistic conference. Metzger admits that his first response was hesitant. “We don’t do that anymore as Mennonites.” But he says the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Mennonites do engage in evangelism—they just go about it in different ways.

Are congregations up to it?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 27, 2016 | 1 comment

With the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, congregations across Canada were wisely and prudently given seven years to discern the important issues confronting them in an increasingly post-Christendom era of the 21st century: multiculturalism, the state of our peace and justice beliefs and practices, and sexuality, to name the high-profile ones.

Witness workers bring forth concerns about ‘Future Directions’

Feature | Jan 27, 2016

The following is an abridged version of a letter sent to the Future Directions Task Force and Mennonite Church Canada leaders that was signed by all 24 Witness workers in light of the Task Force’s concluding report (commonword.ca/go/469). The report focusses on two central questions: “What is God’s Spirit calling us to in the 21st century?” and, “What are the best ways (programs, structures, strategies) for the church to thrive and grow?”

Witness workers’ concerns acknowledged

Feature | By Aldred H. Neufeldt | Jan 27, 2016

On behalf of the Future Directions Task Force I express sincere thanks for the thought and time you’ve put into the open letter received last week from Norm Dyck, Mennonite Church Canada’s Witness Council chair. (See an abridged version of the letter at “Witness workers bring forth concerns about ‘Future Directions.’ ”)

Readers write: February 1, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jan 27, 2016 | 3 comments

Evolutionary theory attacks Christianity

Some time ago there was a letter to the editor promoting evolutionary theory as strengthening faith. This is not Christian or scriptural.

Since evolutionary theory is atheistic, we as Christians do well to believe in God as our creator. True science does not support evolutionary theory, even though evolutionists have hijacked the word “science.”

Do we need saving?

Tim Froese
Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jan 27, 2016

The word “saviour” doesn’t often come up in conversation. Could it be that we are not in need of saving? Perhaps we face no imminent danger. Or perhaps there is nothing in recent history that reminds us of rescue, liberation, redemption or salvation. Maybe we can save ourselves through our own devices. Or maybe we are so inclined to view everything in shades of grey that a concept like salvation draws a line where we think there shouldn’t be one.

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