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Editorial

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 | 12 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.

Widening our circle

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 04, 2016

The draw to our Anabaptist/Mennonite theology just keeps happening.

First, it was Stuart Murray, the British-born Baptist who, with many in his network, found a “home” in the Anabaptist fold. He has set up the Anabaptist Network to make a centre for seekers in many communions in the United Kingdom. (See more about Murray’s vision: “Holding out hope for the post-Christendom church.”)

Of mission and politics

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 20, 2016 | 1 comment

Two articles in this issue point to a shift in our Anabaptist/Mennonite thinking about both our mission in international witness and our place in the government arena.

“Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric,” Deborah Froese, the director of Mennonite Church Canada’s news service, opens her “What’s up with Mennos and mission?” feature on page 4, quoting Witness worker Daniel Pantoja, who ministers with his wife Joji in the Philippines.

How strong is our DNA?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 06, 2016

“Those of us who discovered Anabaptism experienced this encounter, as I did, as a homecoming,” wrote Stuart Murray in his now-famous book in our circles, The Naked Anabaptist (2010). “Here were other Christians who shared our convictions about discipleship, community, peace and mission.”

Can CM survive?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 23, 2016 | 2 comments

Perhaps the more pointed question should be: Do our readers and congregations of Mennonite Church Canada want us to survive?

Living with paradoxes

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 09, 2016

In a blog post a year ago, The Mennonite’s Tim Nafziger references John Paul Lederach’s book The Moral Imagination, in which the author describes what he calls “paradoxical curiosity.”

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.”

Ten years later

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 10, 2016 | 3 comments

Come with us as we look into the future ten years from now (2026), if the recommendations of the Future Directions Task Force are followed in their present form. Regional clusters of congregations have been asked to pick up the functions of Mennonite Church Canada which was disbanded in 2018.

The clusters were handed the roles of global witness, faith formation and developing their own worship resources. An executive minister was appointed to assist and manage these roles.

Are congregations up to it?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 27, 2016 | 1 comment

With the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, congregations across Canada were wisely and prudently given seven years to discern the important issues confronting them in an increasingly post-Christendom era of the 21st century: multiculturalism, the state of our peace and justice beliefs and practices, and sexuality, to name the high-profile ones.

FDTF: more discernment needed

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 13, 2016 | 1 comment

“We know that the North American context and culture, and Christianity within it, is in the midst of immense change. Conversations with and feedback from hundreds of our constituents across Canada these past two years shows broad understanding that old assumptions about the place of church in society have changed.”

Isaiah for 2016

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 23, 2015

The year was 587 BC. Our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites, were deported to Babylon, where they felt like refugees in a foreign land. Their place of worship, the temple, had been destroyed. They sat by the rivers of Babylon. . .and wept. (Psalm 137:1). They were dispirited and tempted to think Yahweh had deserted them.

More transparency please

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 09, 2015 | 5 comments

Sexual misconduct cases by our pastors are difficult to process. These stories, numbering three in the last two years in congregations across Canada, are even harder to report in our publication.

They are stories of abusing power, of crossing boundaries, of letting down congregations and trusting congregants, of creating victims all around—not only of accusers, but of the perpetrators’ family and network of friends, destroying reputations and legacies—especially in the recent case of a long-deceased Ontario pastor.

Peace more than pacifism

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 18, 2015

Every year at Remembrance Day and Peace Sunday, Canadian Mennonites are torn between honouring those who lost their lives through war and entering into a ritual that celebrates violence as a way of resolving international conflict. In doing one, do we negate the other?

The long view

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 04, 2015

The year was 1963. D.W. Friesen and Sons of Altona, Man., publishers of 10-year-old The Canadian Mennonite were struggling to keep the first English-language, inter-Mennonite publication financially afloat. The conferences were slow to accept this new communication venture, which had the purpose of “serving the interest of all the groups for the purpose of bringing them closer to each other so that their respective contributions might complement each other,” as described by Ted Friesen at the 1999 annual meeting of The Canadian Mennonite.

Hospitality to strangers

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 21, 2015

Next to the Toronto Blue Jays, nothing more has gotten our attention as Anabaptist Mennonites than the greatest refugee crisis in the modern age, with more than 50 million displaced persons—the greatest number since the Second World War. With our own history of resettlement during the past century, this has become our defining spiritual moment.

The downside of digital

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 07, 2015

Some days I would like to just unplug my computer, walk out into the sunshine and warmth of an autumn day, breathe in the clear air and pretend I was living in a time before the Internet. Find a close friend and chat face to face, rather than “like” his thoughts on Facebook.

Seeking redemption and peace

Joyce Gladwell
Editorial | By Joyce Gladwell | Sep 23, 2015

Canadian Mennonite received a copy of a letter sent to David Martin, executive minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, as a response to its releasing the story on the alleged sexual misconduct of the late Vernon Leis (Sept. 14, 2014, page 16). We have offered MC Eastern Canada space in our next issue to present its case.

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