Mainstream Mennonites tend to be doers. We have been taught to work hard and take satisfaction from getting things done, whether that is fixing up houses through Mennonite Disaster Service or sending relief kits and food aid through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to places where people are destitute. We like to feel that our hard work is getting results.
1. What have been your experiences in cross-cultural bridge-building with Canada’s indigenous people? What involvement does the church and organizations like Mennonite Central Committee have with indigenous people in your province?
As part of a relationship-building event at Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., Darryl Klassen, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C.’s Aboriginal Neighbours program coordinator, presents local elder Ruth Adams with an MCC blanket. In Salish culture, this is an expression of adopting someone into the family. (Credit: MCC BC)
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia has decided to dismiss long-time Aboriginal Neighbours program coordinator Darryl Klassen. The decision, which was made early this year, will take effect at the end of December. Klassen, 64, has worked with MCC B.C. for 25 years.
Harley Eagle, right, Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s co-coordinator of Indigenous Work with his wife Sue, speaks with other MCC staff and partners at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (Credit: courtesy of MCC UN office)
Vincent Solomon, the Aboriginal Neighbours coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba and a priest for the Anglican Church of Canada, says a blessing for the many MCC infant care and relief kits donated by Native Assembly 2014 participants this summer. (Credit: MC Canada/Dan Dyck)
Tension gripped my gut as I drove to a Mennonite church in Altona, Man., with an indigenous friend. We were doing a joint Sunday morning presentation about hydropower impacts.
I wondered if an indigenous person had ever been in that church. I debated making excuses for whatever suspicion, or worse, my people might direct toward him. I tried to muster grace.
When it comes to graphic design and communications, everyone has an opinion. It’s nearly impossible to please everyone, but we live in a day and age when we must engage in design on some level or another; whether it’s weekly church bulletins, yearly directories or websites, churches have information to communicate.
The New Testament speaks of time in two ways: there is chronos (chronology, the movement of time by clock and calendar), and there is kairos (the opportune time, the right moment).
Life is full of chronos. We wake up at a certain time. We eat at certain times. We go to work, school and appointments according to the calendar. Every day is chronos.
One of the many challenges that are common to most new churches is leadership. Those who have decided to be part of Mennonite Church Canada’s area churches are not immune. This challenge can be both an excellent opportunity and highly demanding for the welcoming area churches. It’s an excellent opportunity because one of the visions of MC Canada is growing leaders.
Participants at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat gather for a group photo on their final day together. Many of the women are holding items they crafted during the three-day event.
As part of a ‘get acquainted show-and-tell’ at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat, Edna Balzer of Rosthern, Sask., shares her story of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery using a quilt block she created depicting a butterfly.
Quilting instructor Anne Madden of Osler, Sask., seated, admires a Christmas stocking pieced and quilted by Becky Wiebe of Outlook, Sask., at the Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat held recently at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask.
Assembling random pieces of fabric or paper to create something beautiful is what quilters and scrapbookers do. And they do it with gusto at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s annual Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat. This year, “Random pieces into beautiful creations” was also the theme chosen for the retreat by speaker Sharon Schultz.
Volunteer exhaustion and the difficulty recruiting more and younger volunteers are a big part of the reason the Morris MCC Relief Sale is shutting down after 33 years, but George Klassen, chair of the now defunct board, identifies other reasons as well: ‘People do not need “stuff” as much as they used to.’ (Credit: Kristian Jordan)
“It almost felt like a huge sigh of relief coming from the volunteers,” said George Klassen as he closed the books of the Morris (Man.) Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale. On Sept. 13, about 250 volunteers served their last perogies, knitted their last slippers, baked their last pies and directed traffic for the very last sale in Morris.
Kevin Peters Unrau, right, sits with Stephan Barton, his teacher, on the day Unrau achieved his first-level black belt in Aikido. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Unrau Peters)
Kevin Peters Unrau thinks that the Mennonite Church has gotten Jesus wrong. When Jesus calls on his followers to “not resist evildoers” in Matthew 5:39, many Mennonites have turned to nonviolent resistance. Unrau, however, has turned to Aikido, the martial art of using someone else’s energy to move past them.
“Have you ever watched those TV court programs where a witness is brought to the stand and asked to raise his hand and swear to tell the truth?” I ask my Israel-Palestine tour groups. I get knowing nods all around and inevitably someone completes the courtroom scenario by adding, “. . . the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
The General Council Peace Commission of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) requested a response from Mennonite Church Canada to the question, “How is your church doing in its desire to be a Peace Church?” The two key phrases of this request to our church is, “desire to be” and “Peace Church.” “Desire to be” strongly suggests a process, a pursuit and a passion.
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.