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Broadening our prayers

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jun 14, 2017

As I began writing this, my Twitter and Facebook feeds reported news about a gun attack on an Egyptian bus carrying Coptic Christians. The world gasped and wept—once again. The people of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan struggle with the enormous challenge of caring for thousands of people fleeing violence in their neighbouring homeland. From the West Bank we hear news of more house demolitions. And Syrian refugees in our own communities tell stories of homes and places of worship destroyed, of violence and fear.

What would you risk for peace?

Mazzen Al Azzah, left, leads protesters in riding their bicycles on a road designated for Israeli settlers only; he was subsequently arrested. Israel is currently building a segregated road system throughout the West Bank. (Photo by Rachelle Friesen)

Viewpoints | By Rachelle Friesen | Jun 14, 2017

In April 2017, more than 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners went on a hunger strike. As I write this article, strikers have refused food and have been drinking only salt water for the last 31 days. They are protesting being held without charge or trial, medical negligence, poor treatment and the lack of family visits. The strikers are putting their bodies at risk to nonviolently protest their treatment; many are experiencing severe fatigue, malnutrition and dizziness.

Readers Write: June 19, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 14, 2017

Random thoughts from a reader

Don’t interrupt me

Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jun 14, 2017

In many busy Canadian families, parents and siblings interrupt each other in mid-conversation. We want to get our point across quickly and efficiently. We want to get stuff done.

Holy sexuality

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jun 14, 2017 | 2 comments

The irony wasn’t lost on me, or on others. At last summer’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly, people discussed, debated and discerned holy sexuality. Specifically, they considered, “Is there space in Mennonite churches for people who are in same-sex relationships?”

The decision by that delegate body—after a six-year, highly participatory process—was yes. Let us provide church space for those who are same-sex attracted; let us accept and live with the differing understandings we have on this aspect of sexuality.

It's better to give

Viewpoints | By Wendy Helgerman | Jun 14, 2017

My father is a very innovative man. Thirty-three years ago, he started a silo repair business. One of the reasons he is a successful entrepreneur is that he finds solutions to his clients’ problems, even if the requests are out of the ordinary.

Rabbit Lake church

Photo Courtesy of Mennonite Archical Image Databa

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 14, 2017

The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church in Rabbit Lake, Sask., 1938. In 1941, 87 percent of Mennonites were rural dwellers. By 1971, the number crashed to 53 percent and has continued to decline. There has been a massive shift in Mennonite communities toward urbanization, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities. New ways are needed to bridge the growing rural-urban divide, evident in voting, social and congregational practices.

For more historical photos in the Mennonite Archival Image Database, see archives.mhsc.ca

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 9)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jun 14, 2017

For centuries, people who questioned the church and its dogma were silenced and at times persecuted. The church coerced the masses to acquiesce to its doctrine by shaming sceptics and denouncing doubters. To say this was wrong would be a colossal understatement.

The truth is, the church needs doubters and sceptics for its own good. Healthy doubt is essential to learning and growing in all areas of life. It is an essential element of genuine faith. It is a gift from God.

So every creature can sing

Artbeat | Jun 14, 2017

If you find the notion of caring for and healing creation formidable—or even hopeless—Mennonite Creation Care Network has a resource that just might change your perspective.

With an accessible approach that draws upon science and faith, the Network has shaped a special 13-week creation-care curriculum around biblical teachings. The original edition of Every Creature Singing was directed towards an American audience, but with support from the Network and Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Mennonite Church Canada has adapted it for Canadians.

New book an aid to ‘identity formation’

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 14, 2017

Palmer Becker’s “little book,” What Is an Anabaptist Christian? has been translated into many languages and used globally. But as he taught from it in various places around the world, it became apparent that a longer version would be welcome.

To that end, Anabaptist Essentials was published by Herald Press last year after testing in his home congregation of Waterloo North Mennonite Church. Mennonite Church Eastern Canada sent a copy home with each congregation after its annual church gathering in April.

On engaging millennials

Ally Siebert

Editorial | May 31, 2017 | 3 comments

Millennials, born between 1981 and 2001, are known to be the first generation contending with technology and social media in our personal, professional and relational lives from the start.

We also hear that we’re lazy, entitled, screen-obsessed narcissists (with nice beards and cool cafés). If that weren’t enough, there are plenty of legitimate headlines that decry millennials for “killing” a lot of important things, including hotels, the napkin industry, democracy, handshakes, the European Union and breakfast cereal.

Readers write: June 5, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

What does—and doesn’t—define us
Sometimes I think most of our Mennonite lay people, like myself, don’t realize how serious the Future Directions endeavour is that is going on right now. Many think that they are just another bunch of meetings, followed by numerous serious people making long, wordy pronouncements, and then, probably, not much will change.

Spaces of trust

Liz Weber

Viewpoints | By Liz Weber | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

“We aren’t going to lose youth because we haven’t entertained them. We’ll lose them because we haven’t trusted or challenged them.”

I heard this quote from Shane Claiborne at a conference in 2012, and it came back to me a few weeks ago at Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering during a lunch meeting with leaders of youth.

Microfilm

Photo: MB Herald Photograph Collection / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 31, 2017

An idea mixed with passion and solid financial support were the ingredients that combined for a great accomplishment. In 1977 and ’78, young Bill Reimer from Winnipeg set out with elder statesman J.B. Toews  to cross North America in a truck and trailer microfilming congregational records. Working 12-hour days, the pair collected, sorted, and filmed more than 175,000 pages of documents that now make up 30 rolls of microfilm. Mennonite Brethren commentator John H.

‘I expected better from you’

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

I’ll never forget the moment that Bill came to sit with me in the penalty box. I was rather embarrassed.

It was a Bible college intramural hockey game. I had been a little chippy with my stick. I had been a little lippy with my mouth. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time that game. The referee didn’t appreciate my antics, and off to the box I went. As I settled in for my two minutes of reflection in solitude, my teammate Bill climbed in too. “Um, Bill,” the referee queried, “what are you doing? We didn’t give you a penalty.”

Hearing each other

Jonas Cornelsen

Viewpoints | By Jonas Cornelsen | May 31, 2017

Hearing each other well is essential for being church. This is a delicate theme, because we aren’t doing it well. The effects of distance—both geographical and theological—are being felt within and among our churches.

Reading the responses we collected on our Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) 2016-17 workshop tour, and reflecting on my experience, I notice two major threads:

• We feel strain in our relationships. We desire unity, but it’s hard work.

• We feel a disconnect between different “levels” of Mennonite Church Canada.

‘What does God have to do with any of this?’

Author Craig Terlson

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 31, 2017

Craig Terlson is a real-life Bartholomew Cubbins. That is to say, he wears a startling number of hats. He is an erstwhile illustrator, present-day graphic designer, moonlight master chef, a one-time psychiatric nurse’s aide and a longtime writer of fiction. His debut novel, Fall in One Day, was released on May 16, 2017.

Walking toward wellness

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 17, 2017

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.—Various attributions

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of all Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Those statistics apply to people in our congregations as well, even if we don’t always like to talk about them in church. One in five of us sitting in a Sunday worship service has experienced—or will experience—our own mental health crisis. And many more of us will walk in the valley of darkness with a family member, friend or colleague.

Readers write: May 22, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | May 17, 2017

Alberta is an example to us all

Re: “A season of change and a search for vitality,” April 10, page 16.

I would like to commend Mennonite Church Alberta, the Calgary Chinese and Vietnamese Mennonite churches, and Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church.

Hope in a dark-sky world

Karen Martens Zimmerly
Viewpoints | By Karen Martens Zimmerly | May 17, 2017 | 1 comment

I grew up with a prairie view of wide open sky and grain fields dotted with cattle. In the living room, however, hung a painting of fishermen hurriedly pulling their boat to shore, racing against turbulent waves and a storm-blackened sky. My father, a life-long farmer, chose the painting for the hope of rain that it portrayed.

Something is brewing in the church these days, too, but we aren’t sure what to expect. How can we find a future of hope in our current reality?

Spanish lessons

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 17, 2017

Walking to my conversational Spanish class, I rehearsed phrases in my head, hoping practice would strengthen my fledgling skills. In spite of my efforts, I knew I would stumble to find and pronounce the right word. Sure enough, in class I attempted to say I had eaten lunch with friends, but instead said I had eaten my friends for lunch. We all chuckled, commiserating about our incompetence.

What is your passion?

Pamela Miles
Viewpoints | By Pamela Miles | May 17, 2017

How often have you heard the question, “Will you sponsor me?” I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, from a family member, a colleague or someone in your church. For many charitable organizations, organizing events in which their supporters can actively participate is a wonderful way to raise funds, get people engaged and create awareness of their causes.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 8)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | May 17, 2017

Doubt has a good public relations manager these days. The world seems awash with books, articles, sermons, even a few TED talks, praising its beneficial goodness. I too have tried to redeem the sullied reputation of doubt in the church with my preaching and writing. Over the past year I’ve started to wonder if the pendulum has swung too far though. Have we naively overestimated and championed the virtue of doubt without fully appreciating its destructive power?

The book of James (1:6) names one thing that will prevent us from receiving divine wisdom. Doubt.

Isaac Wiens

Photo: Isby Bergen Photograph Collection / Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 17, 2017

The Isaac S. Wiens real estate office in Herbert, Sask., is pictured in 1911. Wiens (1874-1958), left, was born in Russia and came to Canada as an infant. His family became part of the Bergthaler Mennonite Church and lived in the Gretna, Man., area. He married Katharina Friesen in 1897, and they had 10 children. The family joined other Mennonites who moved to Saskatchewan looking for land and opportunities. Wiens settled in the community of Herbert. By 1911, Wiens was the village secretary.

Beyond guilt and lament

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 03, 2017 | 2 comments

Years ago, I needed some practical help. A person close to me—someone who had the ability to lend a hand—saw my need and said repeatedly, “I wish I could help, but I can’t. I feel so guilty.” That guilt did me no good. Instead of feeling supported, I felt resentful.

Today we are learning about ways in which our ancestors—and we—have deeply wounded the indigenous peoples of this land: the historic taking of land and the residential schools, and also the present inequalities in health, education and community support, along with the insidious racism of our society.

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