Volume 20 Issue 21

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Back the boycott

Of all the current global conflicts, none seems as intractable as the Israeli-Palestinian one, pitting an occupier government against its occupied residents. The dire situation was recognized at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon this past summer, when a resolution was passed to support the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement as a way of taking the “few remaining options to end the occupation and facilitate a just peace with the Palestinian people.”

Take, bless, break

The Evansons were out of our league. We were a plain old missionary family coming from rural New Hamburg, Ont., and they were über-educated university professors from glamorous Colorado, U.S.A. But as she so often did when newcomers arrived in Brazil, my mom took the Evansons under her wing. She picked them up at the airport and then helped them find a place to live, furniture, schools for the kids, and so on.

Bean Soup (Bohna Supp)

This simple soup was eaten in Amish Mennonite communities in southwestern Ontario and was often called by its Pennsylvania Dutch name. Some cooks served it simultaneously with a slice of apple pie and pieces of cheese.

1 ½ cups dried navy beans
2 ½ tsp. salt
2 T. butter
4 cups milk
1 ½ cup bread cubes
Cinnamon for sprinkling

Stories: yours, mine, ours

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the late Harper Lee captures the complex reality of relationship: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Sounds messy and uncomfortable, doesn’t it?

Although we can’t literally climb inside someone else’s skin, we have the opportunity to capture other points of view if we share our stories.

Healthy truth

“You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

Jesus’ oft-repeated axiom from John 8 lifts up the value of truth-telling. The living out of it, though, is not simple. As one poster riffed: “The truth will make you free, if it doesn’t kill you first.” In the accompanying picture, a two-dimensional figure with a worried face is being squeezed through the wringer of an old-fashioned washing machine. Yep, the truth can be freeing. It can be transforming. Or it can be as devastating as death.

A lesson on sharing

A father often took his five-year-old son to the local minor hockey league games. Each time they went, they saw the same homeless man in the parking lot asking for donations. The first time, the son asked his dad why the man was asking for money, providing an opportunity for the dad to explain homelessness. The second time, the son asked why everyone didn’t give the homeless man money, which gave the dad a chance to share a lesson on charities and generosity.

Reunion

This is no ordinary 1960s family reunion photo. Thousands of Mennonites fleeing the Soviet Union after the Second World War were forcibly repatriated. With the doors closed on mass migration, Mennonite Central Committee focussed on making efforts to reunite families, one at a time. Some of these men, women and children had arrived in Canada soon after the war; others had arrived only recently. These families were adjusting to new lives together after decades of separation. My grandparents are in this photo! Are yours?

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 1)

One of the devil’s tactics in the temptation of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, intrigues me. In this story, Satan takes Jesus to the holy city of God, into the house of God, and uses the Word of God to distort the truth of God and oppose the will of God.

The devil essentially takes Jesus to “church” and recites Bible verses to tempt him. This should be a warning for us today. Just because we’re looking to the church and to the Bible for answers, doesn’t mean we aren’t being misled.

New moderator brings ‘non-anxious presence’

As a busy professional engineer and a young father, Calvin Quan’s days are full, yet he is ready and willing to serve as Mennonite Church Canada’s new moderator. Where does he find the time and energy for national church leadership during a season of uncertainty and change?

“God provides in unexpected ways,” says Quan. “I’ve seen God working most when I recognize I’m not in control, those times I’ve had to take risks and go places that I wouldn’t otherwise go. It’s a recurrent theme for me.”

Taking a chance on Menno-poly

With special “Menno-poly” Chance cards, five different Monopoly boards scattered throughout Saskatoon and fun team challenges, the Mega Menno Monopoly Rally kick-off got groups excited for another year of youth events in Saskatchewan. The event took place on Sept. 9, 2016, at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, with about 40 youth and sponsors from eight different congregations participating. After a fairly epic game of musical chairs, teams were off to find the Pokémon-, Star Wars-, Saskatoon-, Red Green- and Simpsons-themed boards, each located at a different house.

Yee resigns pastoral role

Kuen Yee, pastor of English ministries at Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church, has resigned her three-quarter-time position effective Oct. 31, 2016. Yee is Chinese and has an Alliance Church background. In September 2012, she began serving as the pastor of English ministries with Vietnamese Mennonites. She formerly served as a lay pastor at Edmonton Chinese Alliance Church. She has also resigned as Mennonite Church Alberta’s representative on the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service board.

Camp Koinonia 50th anniversary snapshots

Molly Schaeffer, standing rear, one of this summer’s resident managers, acts as emcee for Camp Koinonia’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Oct. 2, 2016. Close to 150 people gathered for the event, which included camp activities like wall climbing, ziplining, canoeing and pontoon boat rides that were supplemented by tours and cinnamon buns in the afternoon. (Mennonite Church Manitoba photo)

‘Our family is here’

Elaine Hofer and Paul Waldner are members of Green Acres Colony, near Wawanesa, Man. Their Hutterite colony, along with Enes and Fata Muheljic from Wawanesa, worked with Mennonite Central Committee Canada to sponsor a family from Syria. Hofer writes in her journal about the day they met Reyad Alhamoud, Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad and their two children at the Winnipeg airport on Feb. 18.

A friend to the larger church

As a young girl in Pennsylvania, where she was born, Janet Ranck’s interest in missions and supportive missions was nurtured by her family. Her father gave a house to the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions to house missionaries on furlough in the United States. These missionaries shared many stories of their work in East Africa, which impacted her as a child and teenager.

Pastoral transition in Ontario - David Lewis

David Lewis began as the intentional interim minister of Niagara United Mennonite Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sept. 4, 2016. Lewis has a bachelor of theology degree from Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University) and has also completed several courses at Canadian Theological Seminary and Tyndale Seminary. He is certified in leadership coaching and is trained as a transitional coach. Lewis has served in pastoral and denominational leadership roles in Canada, as well as an international posting in Warsaw, Poland.

Questions answered without words

Poetry has always spoken to me. Whether it is the blank verse of Shakespeare, the doubling images of Hebrew scripture, or the lyrics of song, popular or otherwise. But I had not found the time for regular reading and contemplation until a spiritual director on an eight-day silent retreat suggested that my spiritual path sounded to her to echo the 14th-century Sufi poet Hafez. It was easy to include reading his work to my contemplation time, and I have begun reading poetry in a more regular fashion.

Self-discovery through improvisational theatre

Winnipeg filmmaker Brad Leitch’s next project is a deeply personal one.

The 30-year-old, who attends Hope Mennonite Church in the city, is making a documentary about “playback theatre,” a form of performance art that involves audience members sharing a story from their lives and an acting troupe immediately playing back that story using a variety of improvisational techniques.

Shaping life on campus

For many people, studying at college or university is about more than just going to classes. It’s about connecting with peers at social events, service projects and forums that happen outside the classroom.

Often, these events are planned by the student council. To find out more about the young leaders who are helping to shape life on campus, Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes for the 2016-17 school year.

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