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Incubating peace

istock.com/mvaligursky photo

Feature | By Paul Heidebrecht | Nov 18, 2015

Innovation is all the rage in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., the place I now call home.

A day does not go by without stories about another high-tech start-up in the local paper, stories that regularly achieve national prominence. It is no longer enough to describe our community as being the home to “Canada’s most innovative university” for 23 years running. Many now pride themselves on being part of an innovation hub that is the envy of much larger metropolitan centres the world over. “Silicon Valley North,” as some like to call it.  

Top five reasons why the customer isn’t always right

Photo by istock.com/jurgenfr

Feature | By Ryan Dueck | Nov 04, 2015 | 2 comments

It seems like every second time I open my computer these days I come across the latest instance of what is becoming a very familiar—and obnoxious—brand of writing: the “five reasons for . . .” genre.

Dis-placed and de-natured

Todd Wynward
Feature | By Todd Wynward | Oct 21, 2015

Why should I care for the environment? A lot of Christians today are asking that question. I mean, we know it’s probably the right thing to do, but what’s a Christ-centred perspective on the matter?

Sometimes modern Christians, in our excitement about Jesus, think the incarnation of God first happened two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, but when we Christians get our theology right, we affirm that God has been inhabiting creation since time began about 14.5 billion years ago, when this amazing universe was created, through an action we now call “the Big Bang.”

Watershed discipleship

God’s gifts of clean water, pure air and good soil are in the balance; our industrial society is damaging them at a horrific pace. (Photo by Ross W. Muir, Mennopix)

Feature | By Todd Wynward | Oct 21, 2015

What does a transformative, earth-honouring Christianity look like at ground level and lived out in daily action? Reforms of personal habits—such as recycling, eating locally and shopping responsibly—are important steps. But we’ll need to embody a more vibrant Christian environmental ethic if we are to become the people God yearns for us to be, and to address the overwhelming ecological crisis facing us today. We’ll need to do something wild and take on the yoke of watershed discipleship.

A tale of two ethnic groups

Arrival of the first group of Russian Mennonite immigrants in Rosthern, Sask., on July 23, 1923. (Photo from Mennonite Archival Image Database: Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies)

Feature | By Kira Olfert | Oct 07, 2015 | 7 comments

To start, a little bit of history.

The Mennonites evolved out of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. As Anabaptist pacifists who practised adult baptism, they often held themselves apart from the surrounding communities, and in turn often had trouble finding safe havens. They were persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike, but in this persecution they found strength of conviction.

Cooking up discipleship

Doris Janzen Longacre, author of the More-with-Less Cookbook and Living More with Less

Feature | By Susie Guenther Loewen | Sep 23, 2015

When I was a small child, my parents took our family on assignment to Chile as church workers. In a country which at that time had no Anabaptist-Mennonite churches, our ties to the Mennonite community took other forms. Among these, my parents’ use of Doris Janzen Longacre’s More-with-Less Cookbook was perhaps the most tangible.

So, although I didn’t understand it then, as our family ate our Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes, Curried Lentils and West African Groundnut Stew, we were in a sense in fellowship across the distance with our Mennonite faith-family as well.

Christian reflections on balance and the Middle East

While in the West Bank city of Hebron, Hannah Doerksen, left, Naomi Peters and Jenny Sawatzsky were approached by local students. The Canadians are students at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg. (Photo by Ramon Rempel)

Feature | By Ramon Rempel | Sep 09, 2015 | 1 comment

Not long ago I returned from a trip to the Middle East, where I led a group of ten students from Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI) in Winnipeg through many parts of Palestine, Israel and Jordan. We met many people, stayed in local homes, saw many sights of biblical and recent significance, and I trust the world of my students grew a little wider and deeper than it was before.

Can sex with a pastor be an affair?

Cameron Altaras (second from left at the table) was among the speakers from around the world who addressed topics of sexual abuse at a two-day conference held in Washington, D.C. July 30 to Aug. 1, 2015. Representatives of the Anabaptist-Mennonite chapter of SNAP then met in Alexandria, Va. where the author, Barbra Graber and Ruth E. Krall were among those doing the de-briefing. 

 

Feature | By Cameron Altaras | Aug 26, 2015 | 8 comments

(The following article discusses a difficult topic in story form. All characters are fictional, although the events referred to are based on an amalgamation of true experiences.)

She went to her pastor for advice, not sex.

Another woman accepted her pastor’s invitation to chair a committee he oversaw, not an invitation to be sexually preyed upon.

And still another woman was encouraged by her pastor to enter the ministry, not to enter a sexual relationship with her seminary professor, who was also the on-campus pastor.

"Walking with God"

Feature | Aug 12, 2015

Debora Prabu, from Indonesia, sings during one of the nine worship services at Mennonite World Conference Assembly, held July 21 to 26, 2015. She was part of the 17-person international music ensemble led by Marcy Hostetler, of the U.S.A. Each day they focussed on music from one of the continents.

Read more coverage of the 2015 Mennonite World Conference Assembly.

Mennonite World Conference assembly roundup

Members of the Mennonite-Anabaptist family from around the world gathered July 21 to July 26, 2015, in Harrisburg, Pa., U.S.A., for the 16th assembly of Mennonite World Conference. To learn more about the event, click on the links below. (Jim Cheng photo)

 

Walking with God and each other

Morning and evening worship services featured songs from various cultures and countries. Many people found the music inspiring. (Photo by Jim Cheng)

Feature | By Paul Schrag | Aug 12, 2015

In his friendship group at the Mennonite World Conference assembly, Francis Ojwang found that getting to know fellow believers from distant places brought an unexpected blessing.

Music brings unity at world conference

Marcy Hostetler,  led the international music ensemble. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Feature | By Laura Kraybill | Aug 12, 2015

Worship rises to the rafters as Mennonites and Brethren and Christ join their voices in music from around the world at PA 2015 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Differences exist in theology and culture, yet music is a unifier at the conference, even when it stretches comfort zones.

Whether new or familiar, songs are among the highlights of the conference for many. “I just wish we could sing and sing,” remarked one participant.

MWC youth program supported by MC Canada

Natasha Neustaedter Barg gets some tips on playing a gamelan instrument from player Andrew Beltaos, as part of an evening youth event. (Photo by Doreen Martens)

Feature | By Doreen Martens | Aug 12, 2015

Megan Breidigan may be only 16, but she’s already figured out there’s nothing quite like a Mennonite World Conference assembly. The Douglasville, Pa., high school student says this is different from national youth conventions because of the diversity of the young people you can meet: “all different cultures are coming together and it’s really an experience that makes you realize it’s not just your own little bubble in the United States.”

Global Youth Summit calls young people to share gifts

Participants in the Global Youth Summit wrote messages of encouragement to Lee Sang Min, a conscientious objector under detention in South Korea. (MWC photo)

Feature | By Elina Ciptadi-Perkins | Aug 12, 2015

The three-day Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Global Youth Summit (GYS) concluded Sunday, July 19, with a strong call to young adults to impact the world by sharing their gifts.

Global Church Village invites visitors to leave their mark

Roland Yoder (centre) puts his own thumbprint on the three-dimensional sculpture of the MWC logo that he designed. Vikal Rao (left) from India was the overall creator of the Global Church Village and Lowell Jantzi (right) helped to carry out the concept. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Feature | By Connie Faber | Aug 12, 2015

“This seems like an innocent form of community graffiti,” Roland Yoder said with a smile as he watched the hub of activity around the three-dimensional sculpture of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) logo that Yoder designed for the Global Church Village (GCV).

Visitors to the village were invited to put their thumbprints on the wooden sculpture located in the GCV square. By Saturday, the last day of the MWC Assembly, the white spokes were covered with colorful prints left by people from around the globe.

Women gather to explore global network

Left to right: Lesly Henriquez (Honduras), Albita Castillo (Guatemala), and Aurora Pereira (Honduras) work at a communal art project titled, “Women in Conversation.” Artist and pastor Audrey Kanagy (far right) designed the four panels, depicting women from different continents. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

Feature | By Virginia A. Hostetler, with reports by Harriet Sider Bicksler and Elina Ciptadi-Perkins | Aug 12, 2015

For the first time Anabaptist women gathered from across the world to consider forming a global Anabaptist women’s network. The Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly, provided the occasion for regional gatherings of women as well as a joint meeting to explore the vision for greater connections among women doing theology and pastoral work across the Anabaptist world.

General Council fosters interdependence in global communion

Danisa Ndlovu (left) of Zimbabwe and Janet Plenert of Canada have completed six years as president and vice-president of Mennonite World Conference.

Feature | By Ron Rempel | Aug 12, 2015

In four days of meetings just prior to the July 21-26 Mennonite World Conference Assembly, the General Council gathered with about 120 representatives from MWC member churches around the world. About half the time involved sharing stories and reflecting on themes of unity and diversity. Members shared stories from Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Panama, Angola, Venezuela, India, South Korea and other countries. A common theme was appreciation for prayers and expressions of solidarity from other MWC member churches.

It takes a (global) village

Three Mennonite women from different countries share together during a Mennonite World Conference gathering in Ethiopia. (Photo by Merle Good)

Feature | By Arli Klassen | Jul 22, 2015

The last in a five-part series leading up to Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Harrisburg, Pa.

When someone asks you to use a few words to describe yourself, what words do you use? Would you change those words to describe yourself when you are with your family? At work? Travelling to some distant place?  

The Sermon on the Mount: living it out in mind and heart

The Sermon on the Mount is the thorn in our side and the rainbow in our sky, discomforting and comforting by turn, but always calling us beyond our perspective to a more joyous and loving existence.

Feature | By Mary Schertz | Jun 30, 2015

I was down in Mississippi, at a small African-American church. My parents were volunteering there with a ministry that had many different programs going. They had a farm, a clinic, a law office, a school, sports activities for the youth of the community, a resale shop, among other worthy endeavors.

I was surprised, and dismayed, to hear on Sunday morning a sermon about the Sermon on the Mount being for the last days. There was no dissent in the congregation, a congregation that was vocal about both assent and dissent. Heads were nodding and Amens heard. The dissonance was mine.

Asking passively, seeking aggressively

‘Which of you, if your children ask for a moon cake, will give them a stone?’ (Matthew 7:9, paraphrase) (Photo © iStock.com/Voraorn)

Feature | By Brian Quan | Jun 17, 2015

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7:9-10).

I have never eaten a stone, but if given a choice between the offerings of a fish or snake, I think half the members of my church would answer, “Yes, I’ll have both please.” In addition to fish, Chinese people enjoy seafood of every shape, size and shade. Snakes, on the other hand, are land reptiles, but they are quite a delicacy in our culture.

Journeying towards reconciliation

Pressure is increasing once again. The violent and repressive imagination created by apartheid still dominates. Recent violence directed at African foreign nationals is but one example of this. (Photo by Karen Suderman)

Feature | By Andrew Suderman | Jun 03, 2015

The journey towards reconciliation is not easy. Attempts to repair wrongs involve time and intentionality. Healing broken relationships takes longer still.

In 2009, Canada began a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process that followed the example set by South Africa after the fall of apartheid. Given Canada’s desire to learn from South Africa’s creative model of the TRC, it might also be helpful to consider South Africa’s post-TRC experiences.

Pushing back with colour

On April 18, Karen and Andrew Suderman and at least 18 others protest recent eruptions of xenophobia by wrapping about 100 trees in the downtown core of Pietermaritzburg with yellow fabric and a statement from South Africa’s Freedom Charter: ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it.’ (Photo courtesy of Karen and Andrew Suderman)

Feature | By Karen Suderman | Jun 03, 2015

What do you do in the face of hatred, a hatred so immense that it drives people to pillage, beat and even kill others? What do you do when that hatred is simultaneously “out there” and in your own backyard? How do you show love, kindness and hospitality in rejection and defiance of such wanton violence?

Mennonite Christians are unique

Palmer Becker and J.T. Masih (centre) in a teaching mission in India. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Feature | By Palmer Becker | May 20, 2015

Just as there are Lutheran, Baptist and Anglican Christians, so there are Mennonite Christians. The name “Mennonite” is most appropriately used as an adjective rather than a noun. We are first of all Christians and secondarily a certain kind of Christian.

A love for all seasons

Feature | By Muriel Bechtel | May 06, 2015

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come . . . . Rise up my love, and come away” (Song of Songs 2:10b-12a, 13b, KJV)

I learned these words from Song of Songs by singing them in choirs, but I’ve never heard them read or sung in church. Over the many years of wider church conversations about human sexuality and studying the Bible to seek God’s will, I don’t recall Song of Songs ever being used.

An urgent search for water in Mozambique

Doga Jose washes clothes with water drawn from the well drilled in 2014 in Ndoro, Caia District. (Photo: Matthew Sawatzky, for Mennonite Central Committee)

Feature | By Julie Bell | Apr 22, 2015 | 1 comment

Six men grasp the long metal handle of the drill and walk slowly in a circle. They lean into the task, using body weight to drive the shaft of the drill into the dry soil of Mozambique’s Caia District.

They have hand-drilled some five metres down and have farther to go, possibly four metres or more. Even then, there’s no guarantee the water will be potable. An attempt at a nearby location was abandoned after three days of drilling when workers found water too salty to be used.

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