Editorial

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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.”

Honouring our founder

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.

‘Generous orthodoxy’

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

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.

Taking down our harps

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.

Assembly: Pray for grace

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.

Of mission and politics

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?

“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.”

Ten years later

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.

Isaiah for 2016

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

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.

The long view

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.

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