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Jacob’s ‘imaginary’ struggle

‘Jacob wrestling with the angel’ by Gustave Doré, 1855

Feature | By Emma Pavey | Yesterday

“The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids and his 11 children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

What is the Spirit saying to our churches today?

Westview Christian Fellowship, a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada ‘emerging congregation’ in St. Catharines, Ont., operates during the week as the Westview Centre4Women, offering a place of respect, dignity and safety for women in the neighbourhood. Erika Klassen, the centre’s executive director, left, is pictured with Engie, who heard of the centre when she was feeling suicidal because of chronic pain. After receiving love, acceptance and support there, Engie offered her photographic talents to the neighbourhood women, taking portrait pictures of each of them. The event has become so popular it is now held annually. (Photo courtesy of Centre4Women)

Feature | By David Martin | Sep 06, 2017

“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).

These words of John from the Island of Patmos are as relevant for us today as they were to the seven churches in the province of Asia who were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing realities of living under the rule of Roman emperors.

A community with a sense of ‘we’

The interior of Sarah’s house is somewhat plain but very practical. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Feature | By Barb Draper | Aug 23, 2017 | 1 comment

I was humbled and challenged when I spent the day with some of my Old Order Mennonite relations recently.

Going further together, Part 2

Russ Friesen, right, visits Jeanette Hanson in China during a China-Canada pastor exchange. The visit helped to strengthen the mission partnership between the Hansons and Friesen’s church, Tiefengrund Mennonite. (Photos courtesy of Lorena Friesen)

Feature | Jul 18, 2017

‘I thought this type of support was normal’

Jeanette and Todd Hanson

By Donna Schulz, Saskatchewan Correspondent, Rosthern, Sask.

Although they have had other mission partnerships over the years, Jeanette Hanson marvels at the support she and her husband Todd have received from their two home congregations.

Going further together

Darnell and Christina Barkman, pictured with their children, Cody, Teyah and Makai, are members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., and serve in the Philippines with MC Canada Witness. (Photo courtesy of Christina Barkman.)

Feature | Jun 28, 2017

To put names and faces to these partnerships, Canadian Mennonite’s correspondents across the country have profiled Witness workers and the churches that support them. Following are stories from B.C. and Alberta. You can read stories from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Eastern Canada here.

By Tim Froese, Mennonite Church Canada

The view through a prison keyhole

A painting on a gate in the Aida refugee camp in Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem. The keyhole represents the prison that Palestinians, particularly the refugee population, feel. Many refugees have kept the keys to the houses from which they were evicted in 1948 or 1967, as a symbol of hope for peace. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Palestine and Israel Resolution Working Group)

Feature | By Byron Rempel-Burkholder | Jun 14, 2017

Tony Deik experienced a dramatic return to faith when he was studying at Birzeit University in the Israeli-occupied territory of the West Bank. Raised Roman Catholic in Bethlehem, he had mostly abandoned that faith as he experimented with secular and New Age ideas instead.

Still restless though, he decided to read the Gospel of John. Midway through, he suddenly found himself overwhelmed with a sense of his need for God. That was the moment he gave his life to Christ.

Muddying the waters on Israeli divestment

Will Braun
Feature | By Will Braun | Jun 14, 2017 | 4 comments

Only one person voted against the Mennonite Church Canada Resolution on Palestine and Israel, but we all know the matter is more complex than that. Some Mennonites and others argue that the resolution is predictably polarizing and strategically bereft. In a spirit of diversity and understanding, I suspended my own bias and sought their views.

A big fan of Jesus . . . the church not so much

‘In the last couple of years, I’ve been embarrassed to tell people that I went to church or was a Christian. I knew that if I identified that way, people might assume that I am judgmental or racist or holier than thou—the exact opposite of what you’d expect people to think of Christians if we actually lived by the book we say we live our lives by.’—Aaron Dawson

Feature | By Angelika Dawson | May 31, 2017 | 7 comments

A lot has been said and written about millennials: What’s wrong with them? What’s influenced them? What does their future hold?

Google “millennials and the church” and dozens of articles pop up: “5 things millennials wish the church would be,” “12 reasons why millennials are over church,” or “Is Christianity dark enough for millennials?” So much hand-wringing and wondering why our young adults are leaving the church, like this is something that’s never happened before.

On becoming a better person

Senior writer Will Braun explores the concept of ‘mindfulness’ as he grapples with the shift between the first and second halves of his life. ‘I feel foolish admitting this, but I believe life is, in part, a long lesson in letting go, with a big test at the end,’ he writes. (Photo:  © istock.com/lvnl)

Feature | By Will Braun | May 17, 2017

Although I had biked 21 kilometres to work and spent the hot day bent over in a vegetable patch just south of Winnipeg, I was still pushing hard on my ride home. I loved passing the hot-shot cyclists who frequented the same route.

On that day of particular exertion and clarity, my sense of drive was mixed with the knowledge that I was 36 and had peaked physically. I would get slower for the rest of my life. I could barely stand the thought.

Land is the heart of the matter

‘If you understand nothing else about the history of Indians in North America, you need to understand that the question that really matters is the question of land.’ (Thomas King in The Inconvenient Indian) Photo: © istock.com/ninahenry

Feature | By Roger Epp | May 03, 2017

In the opening half of Steven Ratzlaff’s play Reservations, first staged in Winnipeg in 2016, an Alberta Mennonite farmer informs his two children that he plans to give a section of land—most of what he owns—to the Siksika First Nation. The farmer has heart troubles and he’s already renting the land out.

‘They’re destroying our home’

Filmmaker Brad Leitch prepares to head down the Nelson River with Marilyn and Bob Mazurat of Tataskweyak Cree Nation. (Photo courtesy of Interchurch Council on Hydropower)

Feature | May 03, 2017

When the water goes up behind the $8.7-billion Keeyask Dam in northern Manitoba, one family will lose more than any other. At a church-sponsored event in Winnipeg on March 18, 2017, they told their story.

The seven Kitchekeesik sisters from Tataskweyak Cree Nation made the 900-kilometre trip south to speak at the premiere of a short film that takes viewers down the Nelson River to the area that will be flooded by Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask Dam, slated for completion in 2021.

Ceremonies of belief

A 1952 re-enactment of The Trail of the Conestoga in front of Meyers Garage in Cambridge, Ont., includes the ‘capture’ of the Conestoga wagon by ‘Indians’ of all ages. (Photo by David L. Hunsberger, Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Feature | By Robert Zacharias | Apr 19, 2017

Several years ago, my Russian Mennonite grandmother told me a story about her childhood that I think about often. When she was just a young girl living somewhere southeast of Winnipeg, her parents unexpectedly lost their farmland. With no land, no money and no prospects, they packed their few belongings onto the first train out of town.

Some time later, the whole family climbed out at a random stop somewhere in northern Saskatchewan. According to my grandmother, her father swung his axe into the first tree he saw, turned back to the family and said “Welcome home.”

Fraught with possibility

Hereditary chief George Kingfisher, left, and Mennonite landowner Ray Funk chat during a scene from the documentary film, Reserve 107, about land rights in Saskatchewan. (Photo by Brad Leitch)

Feature | By Will Braun | Apr 19, 2017 | 1 comment

Long before the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the celebrated United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), we already had a 4,000-page report with 400 recommendations that were praised by chiefs and church officials alike. 

Be a CO at tax time

Feature | By Mary Groh | Apr 05, 2017

Religious wars raged in 16th-century Europe between Catholics and Protestants. In northern Holland, Jan Smit was captured by the Catholics and was being pressed into service as an oarsman. His captors commanded him to join a crew of prisoners and row across the lake for a battle against Haarlem. But Smit declared, “I have no enemies and cannot in good conscience row the boat so that you can go and fight.”

He was a genuine CORB (conscientious objector to rowing a boat). “He was sharply examined in his faith,” a historian says, “and found to be of the Mennonistic religion.”

Dependent on God’s mercy

‘The Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector’ (acrylic on canvas, detail), artwork by Rebecca Brogan, John the Baptist Artworks, Tasmania (jtbarts.com), used by permission.

Feature | By Dan Kehler | Mar 22, 2017 | 1 comment

A Pharisee and a tax collector
This parable of Jesus seems self-evident. It compares the attitude of two men’s prayers: a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee’s seems rather arrogant, while the tax collector’s only petition is of God’s mercy. The Pharisee’s self-centred prayer is all about his supposed place in God’s favour. The tax collector’s prayer is humbly centred on God. In the end, it is only the prayer of the humble one that God hears with favour. For only the tax collector goes home justified; that is, he is made right with God.

Rolled away

‘All levels of belief—or lack of it—are present in our churches and the world on Easter morning, and they hear the proclamation, “He is risen indeed,” ’  (Photo:  Image © istock.com/RomaloTavani)

Feature | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Mar 08, 2017

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

I always love this joyful affirmation of life and hope on Easter morning. When it is still grey and cold outside, when the world news is so overwhelmingly negative, when many are dealing with losses and heartache, it is so amazing to be able to say: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”

Who’s winning at church?

People are looking for good old-fashioned biblical truth, not all that liberal mumbo-jumbo. Put most crudely, this study proves that conservatives are winning. What else could pews full of young people possibly mean? (Photo © istock.com /scottmarblephotography)

Feature | By Ryan Dueck | Feb 22, 2017

Over the past while, a number of people have inquired about my thoughts on a recent “Theology matters” study conducted by Canadian scholar David Haskell that draws a strong connection between theological conservatism in Canadian mainline Protestant churches and church attendance.

A new recipe for church

One day I had no lentils, so I used pearl barley, and liked it better, so I always made it with barley from then on. Somewhere along the way the main spice changed from marjoram to basil. But there was always sausage. I cooked Hearty Lentil-Sausage Soup for 20 years. (Flickr photo by Scott Teresi CC BY-SA 2.0)

Feature | By Carol Penner | Feb 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Why do you go to church? One of the main reasons is that there is something there that feeds your soul. If there was nothing nourishing there, you would find other things to do with your time.

Jesus fed people. He fed them literally . . . and he fed them with stories. They had to chew on the stories for a long time, and they kept coming back for more. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my flock.” If the church, like the apostle, is called to feed people, what is it cooking up these days? What recipes for church are congregants using?

Remembering the Reformation

In 2007, then MWC president Nancy Heisey presented a framed image of Anabaptist martyr Dirk Willems to Pope Benedict XVI. She told the story of Willems, who was captured, tried and convicted, but escaped from prison in 1569. Willems fled across the thin ice of a pond, but when the guard who pursued him broke through the ice, Willems turned back and rescued him. Willems was recaptured and soon burned at the stake. (Photo by Servizio Photografico de L’O.R.)

Feature | By Troy Osborne | Jan 25, 2017 | 1 comment

The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. According to tradition, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on Oct. 31, 1517, thereby starting the chain of events that gave birth to the Protestant churches and destroyed the unity of western Christianity.

10 under 30

Feature | By Aaron Epp | Jan 11, 2017

We asked and you responded.

This past fall, Canadian Mennonite put out a call to readers. We wanted to hear about the young adults who are making a difference in your community—the emerging Mennonite leaders from across Canada who care about and support the church.

‘I should ask Dad’

Photo: IStock.com/Kunwu_Feng

Feature | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 21, 2016

“It was here somewhere,” I said to my son Allan. “The Boese canning factory was over here, and over there was an orchard where we lived in our trailer until about 1962. It was near the dormitory for the workers. At least I think. I should ask Dad.” (Dad was Peter Rogalsky. He and Leona [Unger] Rogalsky, my mom, had both worked for Boese in the late 1950s and early ’60s.)

Spirit-heat to thaw your freezing blood

‘Good King Wenceslas’ biscuit tin covers (above and at left) in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, made by Hudson, Scott & Sons for Huntley and Palmers, 1913.

Feature | By Layton Friesen | Dec 07, 2016

“Good King Wenceslas” is not the most sing-able of carols and the lyrics are on the King James end of archaic. You may have assumed this 10th-century legend is about the spirit of the Yule and putting a penny in the old man’s hat. Let’s look again. See what you think of the conversion of his servant, the Page. (You can find the lyrics after the discussion questions below.)

A walk in the dark

‘Maybe this Advent finds you walking in the dark, taking groping, fearful, tentative steps.’ (Photo:  © istock.com/ImagineGolf)

Feature | By Carol Penner | Nov 16, 2016

In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes to us in the darkest time of the year. Christmas is advertised and celebrated as the happiest time of the year, and for some it is just that. But for others, Christmas is indeed the darkest time, where loneliness seems lonelier, when separation feels more separate, and despair calls our name. For many people it is not “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Instilling faith at home

(Photo ©iStock.com/ADL21)

Feature | By Carmen Brubacher and Paul Heidebrecht | Nov 02, 2016

At times we have been both inspired and overwhelmed by the parenting books that crowd bookstore and library shelves. We have also found useful advice, and a dauntingly high bar, in countless parenting blogs and social media posts. This abundance of resources is one indication that we live in a society that takes child-rearing very seriously.

Take, bless, break

But it was not in Jesus’ nature to send people away. Maybe he sensed an opportunity to turn a crowd into a community, a chance to live out God’s idea of abundance and hospitality. (Woodcut for 'Die Bible in Bildern' [1860] by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld)

Feature | By Michele Rizoli | Oct 19, 2016

The Evansons were out of our league. We were a plain old missionary family coming from rural New Hamburg, Ont., and they were über-educated university professors from glamorous Colorado, U.S.A. But as she so often did when newcomers arrived in Brazil, my mom took the Evansons under her wing. She picked them up at the airport and then helped them find a place to live, furniture, schools for the kids, and so on.

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