1. Do you consider yourself as a rational being or more of an emotional being? Do you find others reacting more rationally or more emotionally? In what ways has the Mennonite Church tended to appeal to our heads rather than our hearts? Has this been changing?
After many hours of methodical and systematic doubting of all that he held certain, seventeenth-century French philosopher Rene Descartes came to an astounding conclusion: the only thing that he could know for certain, beyond any reasonable doubt, was that he was a thinking creature.
1. Carol Penner says, “sinning against our neighbours once removed just doesn’t feel so bad.” Do you agree? Who might be a “neighbour once removed”? What might be some examples of sinning against such a neighbour? What is it about injuring someone close at hand that is abhorrent?
When I was little, I remember my dad explaining our relatives to us: “She’s my cousin, twice removed.” It’s an expression that talks about a relationship that is a bit more distant. Today I want to talk about our neighbours, once removed. Why is it easier to hurt people when they are removed from us? What does it mean to be a Christian when so many of our neighbours are once removed?
1. What do you find most amazing about the story of the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia? Does the Mennonite Church in North America have any comparable stories? What is appealing about a charismatic church?
As Fanosie Legesse and Steve Brnjas were driving through a small village in rural Ethiopia, their car slowed to pass through a narrow street when suddenly a boy darted into the car’s path, and was hit. His body flew and landed a few feet away. The driver stopped, though hesitantly, sensing there might be trouble. The passengers got out to see how they could help. It didn’t look good.
1. What has been the history of how a pastor is chosen in your congregation? How many people from your congregation have entered the pastoral ministry? How did the congregation help them develop leadership skills?
When a church is in need of a lead or associate pastor, do they nurture these characteristics in the youth and young adults in their congregation or search for ready-made pastors outside of their congregation? The trend among Mennonite churches is to search for pastors who are educated in seminary or at one of the many Mennonite schools in Canada and abroad.
Which is better for the church, a pastor with seminary training or a layperson groomed for the role and invited from the local context? While a seminary-trained pastor may be regarded as more professional, in some settings there are advantages to other models of leadership.
1. What foods evoke memories of your childhood, your family or your church? If you have special foods for holidays such as Easter or Christmas, what role do they play in your life? How strong are your connections between food and culture or food and religion?
Marlene Epp teaches History and Peace & Conflict Studies and is director of Mennonite Studies at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo.Among other things, she teaches a course on “Food, Culture, and History.” This article is based on a talk at the 37th annual Kitchener-Waterloo Inter-faith Community Prayer Breakfast, May 9, 2012.
1. What anniversary celebrations has your congregation participated in? How are these celebrations similar to or different from the one held in the Democratic Republic of Congo this summer? What is the value of these celebrations?
When a Belgian school inspector needed to recruit singers for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, he entrusted the task to two missionary women, one of whom was Lodema Short. Short served from 1947-1981with Congo Inland Mission, now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM).
The Chorale Grand Tam-Tam (Big Drum Choir) walked nearly 100 miles to participate in the centennial celebrations of the Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Community in Congo) July 16-22.
Fifty-some young musicians walked nearly 100 miles carrying their drums, luggage and a few babies to attend the centennial celebration of Communauté Mennonite au Congo—CMCO (Mennonite Community in Congo), July 16-22.
When Bob Lovelace, a chief of the Ardoch Algonquin of Northeastern Ontario, wrote about his people’s struggle over uranium exploration on their land, he did so from a Canadian maximum security prison. To protect their traditional territories from uranium exploration, the Ardoch Algonquin had set up roadblocks.
“Never in Canada’s 150 year history has an emerging generation been exposed to such an explosion of change and choice,” Tim Froese said in his “Scripture in Exile” workshop Saturday afternoon.
Many people remark that it’s difficult to get young adults interested and involved in church. But that wasn’t the case for the 44 registered young adults at the 2012 Mennonite Church Canada Assembly.
Kristina Toews, a youth leader from Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford and a delegate, is very involved in the local, national, and global church.
Film has become the most important entertainment medium of this time and can shed light on scripture, said Vic Thiessen, Chief Administrative Officer at Mennonite Church Canada, in his workshop, “From the Prince of Egypt to Batman: Can Film Illuminate Scripture.” Thiessen said film can allow us to see biblical stories and themes in new ways and showed clips from The Prince of Egypt and The Las
The Bible was primarily written for the damned, proclaimed Gareth Brandt provocatively during a roving workshop called, “Word on the Street” on Friday afternoon. The nine participants went on an urban hiking and public transportation adventure around Vancouver to read Bible verses and tour around the city.
She wept as she told her gripping story of being criminalized by the Canadian government for exercising her indigenous rights to fish from the Fraser River. And she drummed a prayer for “indigenous” Mennonites attending the overflow “Sacred Scripture in Invaded Space” Assembly workshop as she appealed for help in fighting a lonely battle in the courts for the past decade.
Jesus plays the role of scapegoat so that we don’t have to hate, kill and blame each other for those sins, observed Rose Graber in discussing the “Three Views of the Atonement” workshop led by April Yamasaki. The workshop focused on Christ-the-Victor, Substitutionary and Moral Influence categories developed by biblical scholars over the ages.
Randy Wiebe, Mennonite Church Canada’s CFO, reported to delegates at Assembly 2012 that while total revenues increased by $55,000 over the previous year, the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2012 still ended with a $129,000 deficit. Wiebe showed the continuing downward trend since 2004, and warned that increasing or even maintaining current programming is not possible over the long term.