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Ready for God’s response?

With poetic grace and an invitational tone, Cynthia Wallace of Warman (Sask.) Mennonite Church challenged Assembly 2016 participants at the July 6 worship service to dream boldly and then asked if they were ready for God’s response.

Using the “God~Faith~People” theme text from Jeremiah 31, Wallace characterized the Old Testament story as filled with surprises and “tenacious hope.” God’s people in Jeremiah’s day expected neither destruction nor a new covenant.

Making a case for community

“Too often Mennonites have focussed on disunity.”

With these words, Gareth Brandt began his seminar, “Running towards community,” and he then showed how Mennonite/Anabaptist history is pockmarked with splits and schisms. But Brandt said that he sees these splits as inevitable. “If everybody has a voice, then you’re going to have these splits,” he said of Mennonite polity.

The future lies in the past

Ken Quiring is convinced that the future of biblical literacy lies in video. This may be one reason why he and others like him have joined a growing movement known as “biblical storytelling

“We are reading print less and less, but we are doing more and more video,” said the pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Brandon, Man., during an Assembly 2016 seminar entitled “Back to the future: Telling Scripture by heart,” whose goal was to “demonstrate why Scripture has become, for me, an oral, physical and multi-sensory experience.”

‘We are all responsible for what happens next’

Although a concrete picture of what Mennonite Church Canada might look like in two years isn’t yet determined, 318 delegates voted to approve in principle the direction proposed by the Future Directions Task Force to develop a more integrated nationwide church body; 21 voted against, and 4 ballots were spoiled.

Following General Board moderator Hilda Hildebrand’s announcement of the ballot results, Aldred Neufeldt, chair of the now-defunct Task Force, answered a question that surfaced frequently leading up to today: What’s next?

A vision for the MHC Archives and Gallery

Did you know that if all of the textual records and photographs in Winnipeg’s Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Archives and Gallery were stacked on top of each other, they would be taller than the CN Tower?

That was one of the facts Korey Dyck shared during a seminar entitled “History matters: A new vision for the Mennonite Heritage Centre” that he led.

Dyck, as the centre’s director, said there is something for everyone in the archives: “We can find stories that everyone will appreciate.”

Delegates vote to allow space for differences

Nine years of careful study, sensitive listening, deep engagement by many, but not all, congregations—and innumerable meetings of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) Task Force—led to a large majority vote in favour of creating space for congregations to differ from one another when it comes to same-sex relationships.

With permission to allow abstentions, 277 delegates voted “yes,” 50 voted “no,” and 23 abstained in their response to an amended BFC recommendation that took into account some concerns from MC B.C. about language.

Unpacking seven myths about youth sports

We just dipped our toe into the world of youth sports by signing our seven-year-old son, Sam, up for a T-ball team. Last summer he discovered a love for baseball and loves playing in the backyard with his little sister and my husband. He even sleeps with his baseball glove, so joining a team seemed like the next logical step.

After reading Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports, however, I am going into this experience with my eyes wide open.

Coffee for Peace wins UN award

Coffee for Peace won a certificate of achievement from the United Nations Development Programme. It was one of six winners in the UN’s IIX N-Peace Innovation Challenge for “sustainable, scalable, inclusive peacebuilding, that has long-term and transformative impact.” The award was presented to Coffee for Peace founder and CEO Joji Pantoja in New York City on Oct. 23, 2015.

Storks, sparrows, wind and peace

Two Mennonite authors in British Columbia have recently published children’s picture books, both with across-the-world themes.

Barbara Nickel of Yarrow is the author of the recently released A Boy Asked the Wind, illustrated by Gillian Newland and published by Red Deer Press. A question her young son asked years ago, “Where does the wind live?” spurred Nickel’s imagination and eventually resulted in this book. The story has the wind answering the boy’s question by taking him on an adventure to experience distinct winds in different parts of the world.

‘Where does that spark come from?’

Consultation participants work in groups to review current realities for the church and the surrounding cultures. Working with factors related to congregations and religious groups are Yoel Masyawong, pastor in Kitchener, Ont., left; Safwat Marzouk, professor at AMBS; Karen Martens Zimmerly, MC Canada denominational minister; Leonard Dow, a pastor in Philadelphia, Pa.; and Anna Geyer, a farming entrepreneur in Oxford, Iowa.

Designs for equipping multi-vocational leaders with entrepreneurial skills and a view toward mission took shape as 23 business, mission, pastoral and educational representatives gathered for a three-day consultation in Chicago last fall at the invitation of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS, Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) and Mennonite Church Canada Witness.

Living faith: MCI 125

From June 5 to 7, MCI (Mennonite Collegiate Institute) will celebrate 125 years in Gretna, Man., by throwing a party. Given who we are, we are likely to sing a few songs. We will pitch a tent, prepare a feast and tell stories. We will remember classes, athletic fields and musical stages, quonsets and halls, roommates and friends, teachers and parents, road trips and school trips. We will give praise to God who set us here to teach and to learn.

CMU announces recipient of first Dr. Robert Janzen Memorial Scholarship

Jonah Langelotz

Jonah Langelotz has been awarded the first Dr. Robert Janzen Memorial Scholarship by Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). Janzen was particularly interested in the environmental aspects and impacts of agriculture. He pursued his interests through studies at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, the University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta, where he received his doctorate in soil science. A hard working farmer and steward of the land, Janzen supported agricultural communities around the world by sharing his expertise with farmers.

EMU alumni win award for counselling service

Eastern Mennonite University social work alumni Paula Weaver, far right, and Brian Schrock, second from left, pause during a hike in the Wentworth Valley of Nova Scotia with their children, 15-year-old Kellan, 13-year-old Eliana and 11-year-old Ingrid.

Paula Weaver had to take a moment to let a substantial blessing sink in. The 1988 social work graduate of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), Harrisonburg, Va., had just heard that her agency was the winner of the top award from a local organization called 100 Women Who Care.

Weaver’s non-profit organization, Archway Counselling Association, received $17,300 during the awards event in Truro, N.S., on Dec. 2, 2014. Weaver is a therapist there and Brian Schrock, her husband and a fellow 1988 EMU social work grad, is the executive director.

Sacred space, holy time

Grade 10 church history students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., had the unique opportunity of experiencing a prayer labyrinth last December.

On Dec. 13, 2014, Grade 10 church history students had the unique opportunity of experiencing a prayer labyrinth.

Patricia Horst Wagler, a pastor and trained labyrinth facilitator, led students and staff in exploring the history of the labyrinth as a Christian tool for prayer. She explained the meaning and symbolism of the shape and various features of the labyrinth, and the benefits for many of an active, physical way to pray. She described walking the labyrinth as a way to focus the mind and give insight into one’s life and spiritual journey.

TWU launches Anabaptist-Mennonite centre

More than 100 guests gathered for the launch of the Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre for Faith and Learning at Trinity Western University (TWU) late last fall.

An initiative of the Mennonite Faith and Learning Society, a non-profit organization that promotes Mennonite studies in higher education through the establishment of chairs and research centres at Canadian universities, the TWU Centre will be a strong point of connection between the university and the Lower Mainland’s strong, vibrant Anabaptist-Mennonite faith community, its supporters believe.

A place of beauty

Day and night, children love to play on the metal playground equipment, placed there haphazardly many decades ago. . . . The rusted slides have gaping and jagged holes, and can’t be used except to scramble up and down; children do this each day, still wearing their blue and grey school uniforms as they pause for some fun. (Photo: Nathan Dirks)

Nathan Dirks shows plans for a new soccer pitch and improved playground to local children.(Photo: Bellson Othomile)

When entering Bontleng in Botswana’s Gaborone Region from the southeasternmost road you find yourself passing tall grass, wrought-iron covers and headstones of a large cemetery. As the road curves to the left around the nearby Zion Christian Church compound, just before three drinking establishments on the right that are marked by stacks of bottle crates, you find an open, dusty plot of land crisscrossed by a steady stream of pedestrians.

2014 Fall list of Books & Resources

Theology, Spirituality

 

Good News: The Advent of Salvation in the Gospel of Luke. Darrin W. Snyder Belousek. Liturgical Press, 2014, 140 pages.

As the executive director of Bridgefolk, Snyder Belousek brings together the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition with the Benedictine prayer tradition in looking at what salvation means for life on earth. Snyder Belousek teaches religion at Bluffton (Ohio) University.

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