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Editorial

Assembly’s afterglow

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 27, 2011

Maybe it was the downright gorgeous summer weather before the heat wave swept into central and southeastern Canada.  Maybe it was the powerfully inspired music led by Paul Dueck and his gifted musicians in University of Waterloo’s Humanities Theatre.



Time for the family to ‘pony up’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 05, 2011

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 21, 2011 | 1 comment

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.

Conversing in the ‘big tent’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 08, 2011 | 2 comments

“If we step back and review the letters to the editor in this magazine over the past several years, we generally find debates in the church and religion framed in terms of conservative and liberal.



“Each side thinks the other is at best misguided, perhaps even profoundly wrong, and misinterprets Scripture. There tends to be a fair bit of each side yelling at the other.”



How much is a Mennonite education worth?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 25, 2011

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 11, 2011

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.

‘Habits of repair’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 27, 2011 | 1 comment

Not in my lifetime did I imagine that neuroscience and the Anabaptist construct of “community” would come together as a paradigm shift “away from the cult of the individual and back to nurturing relationships,” as one planner of a recent weekend seminar on “Attachment Theory” put it.



Vote your core beliefs

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 13, 2011

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 30, 2011 | 2 comments

“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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 16, 2011

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.

Priesthood: A work in progress

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Mar 02, 2011

The church, or congregation, as a “royal priesthood” was announced as one of our core beliefs by the Anabaptist Reformers nearly 500 years ago, setting us apart from our Catholic-Protestant counterparts who, in that time and place, were perceived to have corrupted the faith with their vertical view of a believer’s relationship to God.

Is Egypt changing our worldview?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 16, 2011

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 02, 2011 | 1 comment

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’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 19, 2011

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 05, 2011

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.

Advent: Waiting for the surprises

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 15, 2010

Two Advent themes should bring us to our feet this season: surprise and waiting. In our hurried, harassed lives, we are probably prepared for neither.

Congregations, too, want ‘new wineskins’

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 24, 2010

It’s too bad the New Wineskins consultations of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), that covered a four-year period and got Mennonites together from all over the world, didn’t “become a hot topic” in the pew, as Will Braun observes in our main feature on page 4.

Where are our churches headed?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 10, 2010

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

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Oct 27, 2010

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

Editorial | By By Dick Benner | Oct 13, 2010

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.

Discerning the ‘liturgical core’

Editorial | By By Dick Benner | Sep 29, 2010

With music being so much a part of the Mennonite DNA, is it any wonder that the spectre of a new hymnal brings some trepidation to the congregational scene?

Step up to the peace plate

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 14, 2010

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.

How green is Canadian Mennonite?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 01, 2010

In a letter to Canadian Mennonite on June 28, Angelika Dawson of Abbotsford, B.C., charged that when we challenged Mennonite Central Committee and congregations to be more environmentally responsible in a previous issue, we “failed to point the finger back at [ourselves].”

Here’s an attempt to answer her specific questions:

Is your magazine printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks? No. When doing informal bids recently on printing with recycled paper and soy-based ink, I discovered we would likely double our paper costs.

Forgiveness to what end?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 26, 2010

The Lutherans have asked us to forgive them for their violent persecution of us in the 16th century, laying to rest, as the Mennonite World Conference reporter, Byron Rempel Burkholder puts it, “500 years of guilt.”

That new class of seniors

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 17, 2010

“One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable,” was one of the more endearing lines coming out of Assembly 2010 in Calgary, Alta.

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