In 2016 popular online stories on the Canadian Mennonite website dealt with gender identity, cohabitation, church institutions, and Mennonite history. Readers wanted to know about the growth of Old Order Mennonites communities in Ontario and the question of Mennonite historical involvement with Aryan ideology. They were interested in real people and their experiences with dementia, intergenerational living, and the quest for mental health.
Here are the top stories, based on the number of page views at canadianmennonite.org.
10. A living death, an editorial by Dick Benner, candidly detailed the realities of living with a spouse who is dealing with dementia. It drew sympathetic comments from friends and strangers.
9. In A misunderstood people Edgar Stoesz reported on a visit to a Mennonite colony in Mexico and indicated that modernization and improved education stand in contrast to an unfair negative image people often have of the colonists there.
8. Cohabitation focus of discussion event at CMU was a report on a panel discussion hosted by Canadian Mennonite University which explored the question of couples living together before marriage. The themes of sexuality, spirituality, marriage, and the church community were part of the conversation.
7. Mennonite refugees arrive in Waterloo- This photo and short descriptive text captured a moment in July 19, 1924, when Mennonite immigrants from Russia met their “Swiss” Mennonite cousins in Ontario. It was part of the regular column, ‘A moment from yesterday,’ which uses archival material provided by MAID, the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
6. In Becoming Aryan religious history scholar Ben Goossen considered the connection between Mennonites and Nazis in this viewpoint piece. He posed the question: “What responsibility do we, as Christians and as members of a peace church, have for the victims of a system that benefited our co-religionists and, in many cases, our own families?
5. On the path to wellness profiled Pete McAdams, a Hutterite long-distance cyclist who rode from Regina to Winnipeg in order to share the message that biking can foster mental wellness.
4. Exploring alternative ways of living- A 22-year-old and his grandfather decided to live together in an intergenerational household. “Interacting with people from other generations really helps us get to know different perspectives on meaning and values and all those things. It’s as good for me as it is for him in a lot of ways,” said the young adult.
3. Old Order Mennonite groups in Ontario are growing- This web-exclusive report detailed the remarkable growth in the number of Old Order Mennonite meetinghouses in Ontario over the last 50 years and the spreading of the Older Order communities to new areas. First posted in December 2015, this report included a map locating the communities.
2. When your services are no longer required dealt with how people have experienced job termination. Henry Neufeld examined how corporate personnel strategies have crept into the church, and why they are not appropriate there. This feature elicited numerous online comments and letters to the editor, with people sharing their stories of termination from a church institution.
1. Taking off the mask- This sensitively-written piece told the story of a transgender woman who grew up in a Mennonite family. Her parents found the strength to support their daughter through her transition process of taking off a proverbial mask. The piece generated not only many online views but also comments affirming the family’s courage and discussing biblical passages.
Other stories near the top of list included a profile of a young pastor, stories on reconciliation with indigenous communities, and cross-cultural encounters. Popular topics included the decisions made at Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016, the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, sexual misconduct by pastors, the Doctrine of Discovery, caregiving, humour, and a profile of a recording artist.