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Volume 20 Issue 5

Cover Date: February 29, 2016

What our survey says about you

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 24, 2016

Canadian Mennonite provides a vital service by keeping the congregations informed on church life issues and trends.  It has a good balance on raising cutting edge questions.”

For what purpose has Christ grabbed hold of you?

Recognizing the ‘Lent twists’ helps us live purposefully toward and through difficult encounters.

Feature | By Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel | Feb 24, 2016

A year ago, when a colleague and I spent an intense two days in the beautiful Fraser Valley of B.C. with the writing team for our Leader magazine, I met this passage again as part of the 2016 lectionary texts for Lent. Many important and life-giving words from these texts (including Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126 and John 12:1-8) spoke to us and led us to the theme of “Living ink,” as well as to weekly sub-themes for this important church season.

Readers write: February 29, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Feb 24, 2016

Magazine should ‘continue to challenge and question’

Re: “Do church and journalism mix?” by Will Braun and “Are congregations up to it?” by Dick Benner, Feb. 1, pages 14 and 2, respectively.

Kudos to Braun and Benner!

History matters

Korey Dyck
Viewpoints | By Korey Dyck | Feb 24, 2016

Last summer, the Mennonite Heritage Centre was given a German language database of more than 110,000 family registries. We were ecstatic! With this new resource, we could reconnect families torn apart during the Second World War. The “lost” had been found. A branch from our faith family tree could be grafted back on.

Aging gracefully

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Feb 24, 2016

On a soft spring day, I looked out my window to see the neighbour’s mature crab tree in full bloom. Its tall, fully rounded shape was blanketed in a carpet of pink-lilac blossoms. Unbidden, a thought emerged, “I want to be like that when I’m old.” Years later, I can still recall the beautiful, magnificent tree and the visual it offered of aging well.

Autonomy and community

Mike Strathdee
Viewpoints | By Mike Strathdee | Feb 24, 2016

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. . . . The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip” (Genesis 32:24-25, 31).

First Mennonite Church in Greendale, B.C., 1948

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Feb 24, 2016

In the spring of 1948, First Mennonite Church in Greendale, B.C., was inundated with water. Dikes had been built along the rivers some 50 years earlier, but they had suffered from neglect. During the winter of 1947 and early 1948, a lot of snow built up, and the late spring and fast melt triggered a sudden rise in run-off. The first dike was breached on May 26, with the water reaching its peak in early June. People were evacuated from Greendale. In 1955, the Greendale church building was destroyed by fire. What happened to the church records—did they survive the flood and fire?

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 2)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Feb 24, 2016

I can’t imagine two scientists debating something of a scientific nature and concluding, “Well, you have your truth and I have mine.” Yet this attitude is quickly becoming the norm when discussing matters of spirituality in Canada today. Why is that?

What makes a quilt Amish?

Bruce Bechtel, left, Janneken Smucker, Debbie Shapansky and interim academic dean Marlene Epp pose after Smucker’s 2016 Bechtel Lectures at Conrad Grebel University College on Feb. 5. Bechtel and Shapansky are the children of Lester Bechtel, who has supported the lecture series from its inception 16 years ago. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 24, 2016

What makes a quilt Amish?  Does it have to be “quilted by a group of Amish women sitting around the frame in their sitting room?” Or does it have to have an Amish pattern, like the Amish Wedding pattern created and popularized by Rachel Pellman of the Old Country Store in Lancaster, Pa? Is appliqué or pieced the appropriate technique?

Edmonton church becomes inclusive, affirming

God at work in the Church | Feb 24, 2016 | 1 comment

On Feb. 7, 2016, Edmonton’s First Mennonite Church voted to become an inclusive and affirming Christian community.

Two motions, one stating that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer people are welcome to become full and equal members of the church, and another to approve the statement: “God calls us to be an inclusive, affirming, Christian community,” were originally put forward at the 2015 annual general meeting.

MC Canada wants to know who is caring for refugees

On Feb. 7, 2016, during the faith formation hour, Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., heard two Syrian refugee families tell their stories. One family is sponsored by Rockway Mennonite Church, the other by Stirling Avenue, Pioneer Park and First Mennonite churches, all of Kitchener. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

God at work in the World | Feb 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Mennonite Church Canada congregations are taking the words of Deuteronomy 10:18-19 to heart by caring for Syrian refugees. The  passage shares God’s desire to clothe and feed strangers. It’s a rather fitting way for Mennonites to express God’s love, as many were once refugees to Canada themselves.

Is climate change real?

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 24, 2016 | 4 comments

A reader of this magazine sent an e-mail admonishing me not to associate our Mennonite faith with the “fear narrative” of climate change. He provided some links to seemingly credible people who refute the common global-warming argument. My impulse was to either delete or politely—or impolitely—sidestep it. Instead, I took it seriously.

Some of you, like me, probably feel immediately defensive when someone questions climate change. Others probably feel immediately vindicated. We should not follow either of those impulses.

Breakfasts, burnt curtains and a surprising friendship

Beverly Winter, of Friendship Manor, a government-run housing facility for people on social assistance, and Karlyn Wiebe of Altona Mennonite Church stand in Winter’s apartment. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Feb 24, 2016

Across the parking lot from Altona Mennonite Church stands a long, yellow brick building with narrow halls and tiny bachelor suites that rent out for $285 per month. Friendship Manor is a government-run housing facility for people on social assistance.

Former soldier leaves legacy of Christian pacifism

Siegfried Bartel

God at work in Us | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Siegfried Bartel, the former German army officer who became an ardent advocate for peace and an influential Mennonite figure in Canada, died at the age of 101.

Siegfried Wilhelm Bartel was born in Prussia, now Poland, into a successful Mennonite farming family. Pacifism had ceased to become important to the Prussian Mennonites, and Bartel voluntarily enlisted in the German army in 1937, before the start of the Second World War. He moved up the ranks quickly. During the war, he was wounded twice and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery.

Camping ministry a common thread for AMBS students

Focus on camping | By Annette Brill Bergstresser | Feb 24, 2016

What do 10 of the 33 first-year students at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) have in common? A background as staff members at Mennonite camps and retreat centres.

Scott Litwiller of Hopedale (Ill.) Mennonite Church is one of the 10. Litwiller has a bachelor of arts degree in biblical and theological studies from Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, and is a master of divinity student in pastoral ministry at AMBS.

Deep in the marrow: Silver Lake Mennonite Camp

Focus on camping | By Mark Morton | Feb 24, 2016 | 1 comment

I never went to camp as a kid because growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan seemed sufficiently uncivilized that I didn’t need to spend another week or two sleeping in a forest.

CMU and Camps with Meaning prepare leaders of faith

These students from Canadian Mennonite University were leaders at Camps with Meaning last summer. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Mennonite University)

Focus on camping | Feb 24, 2016

Summer may be a distant memory at this time of year, but Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) student Jonas Cornelsen fondly recalls how he spent last July and August working as the Bible instructor at Camp Koinonia, one of three run by Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps with Meaning (CwM) ministry.

Camp installs ‘green’ roof

Last fall, workers installed a ‘green’ roof over the Stonehouse meeting room at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp. (Hidden Acres photo)

Focus on camping | Feb 24, 2016

Last fall, workers installed a “green” roof over the Stonehouse meeting room at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp. The old flat roof was in need of replacement and while it would have been easy to simply replace it with the same materials as before, the Hidden Acres board and staff are always looking for ways to better demonstrate “appreciation and care for the natural environment.” After all, that is one of the organization’s core values.

The camp staff is eagerly awaiting this coming spring when the sedum plants will spring to life!

‘God has a vision for Shekinah that’s exciting’

Children and adults alike enjoy tobogganing on Shekinah’s Quill Hill in the winter. These photos were taken at Shekinah’s annual Winter Fun Day in February 2015. (Shekinah Retreat Centre Facebook photo)

Focus on camping | By Donna Schulz | Feb 24, 2016

It’s not the kind of news Shekinah Retreat Centre executive director Nick Parkes likes to share with his constituency, and it’s not the kind of news the constituency likes to hear. In a statement to Mennonite Church Saskatchewan dated Feb. 9, 2016, Parkes announced that Shekinah is in a deep financial crisis.

The trouble, says Parkes, began in 2015, when low enrolment in summer camp resulted in a $30,000 loss. This, coupled with a $40,000 shortfall in the fundraising dollars needed to make budget, resulted in a precarious situation at the end of the year.

Making a Mennonite

‘Not going back to camp will be tough,’ says Andrew Brown of his experiences at MC Manitoba’s Camp Moose Lake. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Manitoba)

Young Voices | By Andrew Brown | Feb 24, 2016

I did not grow up attending a Mennonite church. Growing up two hours southeast of Winnipeg in Piney, Man., I attended International Christian Fellowship, a small congregation that includes an interesting mix of people and theological backgrounds. It is an international amalgamation of American and Canadian churches on the U.S. border, officially under the Evangelical Church, led by a Dutch Reformed pastor and including people from Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical and Mennonite backgrounds.  

Cohabitation focus of discussion event at CMU

Rebecca Steiner and Paul Peters tell stories that reflect the diversity in the relationships of young couples. (Photo by James Christian Imagery)

Young Voices | By Amelia Warkentin | Feb 24, 2016 | 2 comments

What is the significance of youth pastors living with their partner outside of marriage? How do young people respond to this information? Sexuality, spirituality, marriage, cohabitation and the church community all pertain to this conversation. The reality of cohabitation questions long-held views of marriage.