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Independent or inter-dependent?

Robert J. (Jack) Suderman flinches every time I, or anyone representing Canadian Mennonite, uses the word “independent” to describe who we are as a publication. The characterization apparently grates on his pastoral instincts to think, even for a passing moment, that we are not an integral part of the “body of Christ” as it is expressed in the institution of Mennonite Church Canada.

A magazine is born

The year was 1953. Mennonites scattered across Canada were a disparate group, having come to this land of freedom in several migrations from Europe, the first of which was of Swiss-German origin from the German Palatinate coming from Pennsylvania and settling in what was to become the Niagara Region of Ontario as early as 1786.

Healing sexual abuse

Two stories on sexual abuse have re-emerged recently on the Mennonite scene that call for sober reflection and some self-examination, but not self-obsession. They should be seen, in the present, as “teachable moments” and occasions for healing, rather than harsh judgments on the sins of our fathers.

Shared ministry

It is a great experience to be on the board of Canadian Mennonite. On a personal level, it is both fun and interesting. You get to meet other Mennonites from across the country and hear what is going on in their churches. You find that some things between congregations are very similar. You also see that some issues are distinctive because of different social, demographic or economic conditions.

Micah and the Mud

My, what a summer—unexpected flooding in central and southern Alberta, oil rail tankers exploding in Lac-Mégantic, devastating that small rural town in Quebec, record-setting heat waves in several parts of the country.

Catastrophic events like these can lead one to think we are in the midst of some kind of Apocalypse—not only here in Canada, but globally as fires ravage a Bangladesh clothing factory, killing hundreds of unprotected workers; fighting and violence continue to rock two Middle East countries—Syria and Egypt.

The trouble with labels

In an increasingly polarized culture, we seem to be plagued more and more with labels that define us. Driven by an obsession to organize our society, we put each other into the categories of liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice, fundamentalist or social gospel, traditionalist or progressive, pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, Oil Patch worker or anti-pipeline crusader. The list goes on.

Finding our way

Ken Bechtel makes an astute observation in our lead feature when he says the church in postmodernity is more about “the experiential, spirituality, community, globalism, relativism and authenticity” than the “rationalism, dogmatism, nationalism and a veneered religiosity” of the past.


I turned off the radio en route to my destination at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph, Ont. A shooting in Toronto, a bombing in Boston, political chicanery in Ottawa—all were short-circuiting my gradual descent into solace. The noise was drowning my need for silence, a yearning for an uncluttered world.

Creating a village

Recently, our congregation discovered Facebook. “Discovered” isn’t quite the right word, of course, since many of us were already part of the online community reputed to have a mind-boggling billion users around the globe.

But someone started a “secret” Facebook group—meaning it isn’t publicly visible and requires an invitation to join—and it quickly garnered 136 members in a church of 200.

A hidden darkness

While the Mennonite faith community has sometimes been contentiously consumed over the past two decades with one aspect of sexuality—homosexuality and same-sex marriage—another darker side has quietly escaped our notice: sexual abuse of women and children.

A hijacked faith?

In her “Mennonites have a long history of environmental activism” letter to the editor on page 12, Joanne Moyer questions whether it was fair to hold Menno Simons to account for a lack of concern for climate change and broader concerns of the earth.

“A 16th-century church leader can hardly be expected to comment on a climatic phenomenon that scientists only began to notice several centuries later,” she writes. In an e-mail follow-up conversation with Moyer, I said she reinforced a point that I apparently didn’t develop sufficiently for proper understanding.

Practice the peace we proclaim

While I appreciate the widespread support for Canadian Mennonite when we broke the story in our last edition regarding Canada Revenue Agency reminding us about “political partisanship” cited in two editorials and four articles, I want to clarify and correct some misinformation reported by the public media.

I also want to appeal to our readers to refrain from vitriol and name-calling in their responses, despite their strong feelings and deep suspicions regarding the government’s action.

Transition gifts

Henry Paetkau left his position as president of Conrad Grebel University College last year and entered into a new phase of life, which was not quite retirement, but left him wondering about his role and identity. He is now employed as area church minister for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.


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