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Ten years later

The question isn’t, “Has our world changed since that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001?” It is rather, “How have we changed 10 years after?”

As I write this, the air and print are filled with reflections on this anniversary date. The emotional wounds of the families of the fallen victims working at the World Trade Center on that tragic day are still raw, their losses still keenly felt. The violent and abrupt end of their loved ones is still overwhelming.

Food as faith formation

What is it with Mennonites and food?

We seem to take great pride in the cultural dishes from our German/Swiss/Russian backgrounds and more recently those national newcomers to our faith—Asian, Latino, African and Eastern European. There isn’t a church potluck or social gathering we don’t like. Before every important congregational decision we seem to think better if we have first dined together.  

Time for the family to ‘pony up’

Although the thousand delegates and locals attending the annual assembly of Mennonite Church Canada represent only 3 percent of our 32,000 members, the event has the feel and dynamic of a family reunion.

The much “meeting and greeting,” that yearly renewal of ties of Mennonite church cousins, is the social underpinning that gives self-identity and a sense of purpose and vision to the discussion and actions of a people defining its faith and practice in the changing culture of the 21st century.

A teachable moment

Have we learned anything about resolving church conflict in the past 50 years?

After reading the painful account of the German/English language dissension resulting in several congregational splits (“Changing the language of worship is a test of love,” page 4), our faith community should take a contemplative look at how to redeem this blot on our past.

How much is a Mennonite education worth?

The case for Mennonite schools is an increasingly complicated one as the values of our religious system and that of the dominant culture, of which we are a part, both change.

On the one hand, the vision of church leaders and parents to instill and formulate distinctive Anabaptist values, beginning at an early age (elementary school) and continuing through university and graduate-level theological training, is needed as much or more than when our immigrant parents wanted protection from government-controlled education with an agenda under suspicion.

A political lament

Emily Loewen

As an American living and working in Canada, I am both intrigued and saddened by two political events of the past ten days in these two North American countries—the take-out of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. military and the take-over by a militaristic Conservative majority government in Monday’s elections in Canada.

Vote your core beliefs

While we won’t endorse candidates of the five political parties in the upcoming May 2 election, or tell you how to vote, we do ask Mennonite voters to both examine the political views and voting records of candidates regarding our deeply held core beliefs in peacemaking, compassion for the poor and care for creation before placing your ballot in the ballot box.

My vision for Canadian Mennonite

“I have never heard the editor’s vision for the magazine,” said a reader when asked what she thought of Canadian Mennonite. The observation caught me up short. Assuming my vision was implicit in the biweekly conversation I engender, being explicit with my goals and aspirations didn’t seem necessary.

To do so might even be redundant, I reasoned. Apparently, I am wrong. With each change of editors, some readers would like to know what roadmap or blueprint they are following. Here goes:

Death as life with the saints

At age 65, he was too young to die. For Stan Benner, my brother whom we just remembered this past weekend, it was especially incongruous. Living life at full throttle, he had big plans for the last leg of his journey. A deadly disease—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that invades the lymph system—weakened his otherwise healthy body in less than a year, interrupting dreams for a stimulating retirement he and his spouse Marg were anticipating.

Is Egypt changing our worldview?

It’s been some week. As I write this several days after a stubborn dictator, Hosni Mubarak, has finally stepped down in Egypt, there is a feeling of relief even though the event has transformed an oppressed country half a world away.

Jim Wallis, called “a Christian leader for social change” by the Huffington Post, says the Egyptian people have changed the world. What the new generation of Egyptians represents, he declares, is not only a victory for democracy, but a “new leadership, a new hope for the future, new voices for the establishments, in both their country and ours.”

Yes, we are online

We do have a website, dear readers, a recently re-designed one, in fact.

And we know many of you are reading Canadian Mennonite online. Our Google Analytics tell us that as many as 2,400 unique visitors a month are coming to the website for some 16,000 page views and staying an average of three minutes to read something of interest.

‘Tunnel vision’

Joe Neufeld puts his finger on an important artificial divide in our congregational care-giving (page 4) when he raises the spectre of perceiving some aspects “sacred”—and thus safe and legitimate—while others are considered “secular”—and thus suspect.

Although his well-articulated case might be overstated at times, it does point to a larger cultural context in which Mennonites are having some difficulty navigating the rapidly shifting values and worldviews of the wider society.

The past as prelude

As a people of hope, what should we, as a Mennonite faith community, expect on the road ahead in 2011?

If the past is prelude, as the adage goes, there are road signs, some of them giving helpful direction, others giving us warnings. At the risk of oversimplifying, we will deal with only three: cultural shifts, ecumenism and a new mission/service focus.

Where are our churches headed?

What will the typical Mennonite Church Canada congregation look like in three years?

That’s the question on the minds of my fellow congregants at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, as we attempt to identify character and vision as a body of believers. Driven by the need to replace a youth pastor, and for preparations for a 25th anniversary in 2011, the 240-member congregation has been holding what are termed Values Identity and Priorities (VIP) sessions that began with a church retreat in early October.

Canadians need stake in new media merger

Canadians have every right to ask questions about the merger of Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN), with offices in Waterloo, Ont., and Scottdale, Pa., and Third Way Media, located in Harrisonburg, Va.

It is not that anyone is against the creation of a “dynamic, innovative, fully integrated multimedia” enterprise (the “spin” courtesy of an MPN/Third Way press release) combining the expertise and resources of an historic publishing arm of the binational Mennonite church with that of a U.S. based electronic media ministry.

The narrative endures

The bad news: Our kids don’t know their Bibles. The good news: They are probably practising it better than many of their elders.

If you take the time to talk with these reportedly biblically illiterate young people, you will find many of them much less materialistic than their biblically literate parents and grandparents, giving much higher priority to relationships than to socio-economic achievements, and living and savouring the present over being driven towards some “success” in the future.

Step up to the peace plate

Tragic, isn’t it, that one fringe religious leader with a very small following can get international attention, damaging beyond calculation the good work in Christian-Muslim relations when all of the remarkable work our congregations are doing goes largely unnoticed?

Terry Jones, pastor of a 50-member flock in Gainesville, Fla., held the world captive for four long days leading up to the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City with his threat to burn 200 Qur’ans in what has been termed an Islamophobic act.


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