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Editorial

Walking toward wellness

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 17, 2017

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.—Various attributions

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of all Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Those statistics apply to people in our congregations as well, even if we don’t always like to talk about them in church. One in five of us sitting in a Sunday worship service has experienced—or will experience—our own mental health crisis. And many more of us will walk in the valley of darkness with a family member, friend or colleague.

Beyond guilt and lament

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 03, 2017 | 2 comments

Years ago, I needed some practical help. A person close to me—someone who had the ability to lend a hand—saw my need and said repeatedly, “I wish I could help, but I can’t. I feel so guilty.” That guilt did me no good. Instead of feeling supported, I felt resentful.

Today we are learning about ways in which our ancestors—and we—have deeply wounded the indigenous peoples of this land: the historic taking of land and the residential schools, and also the present inequalities in health, education and community support, along with the insidious racism of our society.

Change, I welcome you

Tobi Thiessen
Editorial | By Tobi Thiessen | Apr 19, 2017 | 1 comment

Anxiety about change abounds. It is a natural response to uncertainty, but I tire of reading about it. Newly taking up my role as publisher of this magazine, I would like to be bold and announce, “Change, I welcome you.” I would also like to praise the staff at Canadian Mennonite for taking our new leadership structure in stride, welcoming me in and being open to new ideas and possibilities.

Church lessons

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Apr 05, 2017 | 2 comments

My church experience has included at least 13 Mennonite churches, a Baptist church, an inter-denominational church and two Catholic schools. That represents more worship services and Sunday school lessons than I can count! Not many details from the sermons and classes stick in my mind, but those experiences taught me many lessons over the years. Here are a few.

Farewell, my friends

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017 | 3 comments

It’s been a good eight-year ride, my friends, with a few bumps along the way. I will miss this biweekly meeting with you on the second page of Canadian Mennonite. While it’s been a monologue, I have felt it had the makings of a dialogue, of one friend sharing thoughts with another friend. I have tried to make it more of a conversation than a lecture.

The past as prologue

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 08, 2017

“While Anabaptists affirm the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture, we are not strict literalists,” writes Palmer Becker in his just-released book, Anabaptist Essentials. This Canadian pastor, educator and missionary makes his point from no less than our Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, a document being held up as something of a Mennonite creed by some biblical literalists.

In the cross-hairs of change

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 22, 2017

“The times, they are a-changin,” belted out singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in the mid 1960s.

While Dylan made the words a hum-them-all-day-long habit for many of his fans, those of us living more than a half-century later smile to ourselves and ask: “What’s new about that?” Change has been constantly a part of our lives if we are awake and taking nourishment every day. Get used to it, sister. Adjust your lenses regularly.

Thank You!

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 08, 2017

It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank and recognize the generosity of the 835 donors, including 45 new ones, to our 2016 spring and fall fundraising drives that brought a record $119,403 into our coffers toward operating expenses and our endowment fund.

The ‘sin’ of disunity

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 25, 2017 | 7 comments

The tension in the room was palpable. High winds and blizzard conditions outside kept some from attending the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship meeting in Winnipeg (see “Let him speak,” page 18), but the stormy weather on Jan. 12 was not confined to the outdoors. Inside the winds of confrontation were brewing, too.

Making the list

Aaron Epp
Editorial | By Aaron Epp | Jan 11, 2017

At the end of every year, I get together with a group of friends and we discuss our favourite music that came out in the previous 12 months. As a starting point for the discussion, each of us creates a list of our 10 favourite albums of the year.

When we began this music night many years ago, I was tempted to come up with an objective list of the Top Ten Best Albums of the Year. It would be a definitive list of the undeniably best music released in all of the world.

A year of re-visioning

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 21, 2016

This year—2017—will bring changes for members of Mennonite Church Canada, a denominational entity to be reconfigured into a proposed structure of five area churches doing the work of a denominational centre in Winnipeg. It is uncharted territory, to say the least.

We need ‘Emmanuel’ like never before

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 07, 2016 | 1 comment

If ever we needed to hear “Emmanuel” (God with us), it is during this Advent season as we wind up the year 2016. With violence prevailing in war-torn countries, and political upheaval changing the face of our neighbour to the south, not to mention changes in our own denominational structure, we seem to be groping for a divine peace like never before.

A new conversation about dementia

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 16, 2016 | 3 comments

When the diagnosis of dementia hits you up close and personal, as it has me with the decline of my spouse Marlene due to the disease, it sends you on a grief journey that clouds your perspective on life. The questions come fast and furious.

Why did this happen to her, a person so dynamic and useful, so looking forward to fulfillment of dreams at the end of the road, to spending time with family and friends, perhaps some travelling and learning of other cultures, being a gracious grandmother and enjoying the special bond of close friends going through the aging process?

No more closed doors

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 02, 2016 | 1 comment

The pastors of Mennonite Church British Columbia got together recently in a closed meeting to discuss their response to the Being a Faithful Church 7 resolution passed at Assembly 2016.

Back the boycott

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 19, 2016 | 3 comments

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.”

Honouring our founder

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 05, 2016

We are pleased to announce that the family of the late Ted Friesen, the first publisher of The Canadian Mennonite, has agreed to set up—and seed with a $50,000 gift—a fundraising initiative that we are calling the Ted Friesen Legacy Fund. We hope that it will serve as an incentive for others to follow suit in giving major gifts to financially stabilize the 63-year-old publication during an uncertain time of changing denominational structures.

Farewell to a ‘budding activist’

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 21, 2016

We will miss her and her passion for justice as a young mother trying to make sense of the complexities of our world in the 21st century. Katie Doke Sawatzky wrote her last New Order Voice column in our September 12 issue as she embarks on full-time studies in journalism.

‘Generous orthodoxy’

Paul Schrag
Editorial | By Paul Schrag | Sep 07, 2016

On his Aug. 11, 2016, podcast, journalist Malcolm Gladwell used the concept of “generous orthodoxy” to frame the story of Chester Wenger. It’s a positive approach to faith that is gaining ground among Mennonites.

Gladwell, a best-selling author whose “Revisionist History” podcast tops the iTunes chart, interviewed the 98-year-old retired minister about officiating at his son’s wedding—and setting off ripples across Mennonite Church U.S.A.

Ramadan delights

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

It’s been a couple years now, but the experience stands out in my mind as if it were yesterday.

Engin Sezen, executive director of the Waterloo, Ont., Intercultural Dialogue Institute, invited my wife Marlene and me to share a meal with his and his brother’s families after dusk during Ramadan.

Canadian Mennonite: A lighthouse

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 10, 2016

In reflecting on Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon, one thing is certain: We are entering a period of uncertainty in the life of Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches. The most hopeful sign in this state of affairs is that the delegates had enough faith in our leaders to begin a new process with few specifics.

Taking down our harps

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 20, 2016

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps” (Psalm 137: 1-2).

These familiar words from the Psalmist, cited by Cindy Wallace as she opened the worship of Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon, persisted as a lament throughout the five-day event that brought together more than 500 delegates and congregants from across Canada.

Speaking with the heart

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 28, 2016

What will be the tenor of the conversation at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon? Writing this 12 days before more than 500 delegates and denominational leaders gather to consider multiple heavy issues, we can only imagine.

A pastor’s holy moments

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 15, 2016

We expect a lot from our pastors, especially the part-time ones who are forced to be bi-vocational. They speak candidly about their roles and their congregation’s expectations in this issue beginning on page 4, as interviewed by our Saskatchewan correspondent, Donna Schulz.

Assembly: Pray for grace

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 01, 2016

Prospects for an intense conversation on several issues appear to be gaining traction for our upcoming assembly in Saskatoon in July.

The agenda features the conclusion of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process after seven years of discernment. And many delegates will come with serious questions about the Future Directions Task Force recommendations. The conversation at the area church level has already been rigorous around these recommendations, sent out to the congregations with only a six-month window for discernment.

A living death

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 18, 2016 | 11 comments

She is more than my spouse and partner of 54 years. She was my soul mate; the person whose love and devotion never faltered; the one to whom I turned for counsel, for wisdom and for comfort.

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