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Usufruct and the church

Viewpoints | By Mike Strathdee | Aug 17, 2010

Think much about use of fruit?

In January, Beryl Jantzi, a U.S. stewardship educator, told a gathering of pastors at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., that they should spend some time pondering the concept of usufruct.

Usufruct is the legal right to use and derive profit from something that belongs to another person, so long as the property is not damaged. The concept dates back to Roman times.

Love the one you’re with

Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 17, 2010

On a Friday afternoon in summer, chances are good you’ll find me with a few friends outside an ice cream stand, soaking in the pleasures of summer. Probably I’ll be licking a cone—something with chocolate and peanut butter if I’m lucky. The conversation will be easy: trips we’re planning or returning from; books we’re reading; light chatter about work, family and church.

The church we were meant to be

Viewpoints | By Robert J. Suderman | Aug 17, 2010

Farewell messages never feel adequate, with so many more challenges to identify, concerns to articulate, gratitude to express, and hopes to inspire.

But one more time, I want to encourage us all to recapture a robust vision of God’s all-embracing vocation for the church. God’s dream is for a world restored and reconciled to its intended purposes, and the church has a vital role to play in saving humanity from the seeds of destruction we call sin.

For discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Aug 17, 2010

1. How involved is your congregation with Mennonite Church Canada? How do you get information about what MC Canada is doing? What would strengthen the connection between MC Canada and your congregation?

2. The congregations of MC Canada increased their total giving in the past year, but sent a smaller percentage of those donations to MC Canada. Is your congregation part of this trend? How concerned are you that congregations are spending more on local missions while international Witness programs need to be cut?

‘Reclaim the Name’ assembly theme song

Klassen and Miller

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

When the Worship Committee for Assembly 2010 couldn’t find a song that captured the essence of the theme, “Reclaiming Jesus™: Gladly Wear the Name,” Chad Miller and Doug Klassen teamed up to write one, aptly titled “Reclaim the Name.”

Q: What inspired you to write this piece?

Quilting for art and prayer

Participants take a walking tour through Art for Peace, a collection of artistic quilts, at Assembly 2010.

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

For Bev Patkau, quilting is a labour of love, her fabric and thread a form of expression.

Patkau had several quilts on display at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly art exhibit, this year entitled Art for Peace. It’s an event that she has poured a great deal of energy into by helping Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg, Man., acquire and display quilts with a “peace” theme.

Financial trends: Healthy or worrisome?

Feature | By By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld and Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

Congregational giving is up, so why are donations to area and national church bodies falling?

The steady increase in Mennonite congregational giving is worth celebrating. “We are one of the few denominations where giving has not dropped, and is slightly ahead of cost-of-living,” MC Canada general secretary Robert J. Suderman told delegates to the national assembly in Calgary, adding, “Other denominations drool over this.”

Peace in public is breaking out all over

Feature | By By Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

What started out as a small Saskatchewan church’s 2008 resolution to take acts of peace public has become a fairly widespread Canadian campaign with people all over the world getting on board.

It’s called, “Peace in the public square” and it’s breaking out all over: from billboards in Calgary on the Light Rail Transit vehicles to wearing the “Live for Peace” toques at major public events.

“Every province from Ontario to British Columbia has participated in acts of peace,” Mennonite Church Canada communications director Dan Dyck said on July 1 at the assembly in Calgary.

Bible Q & A

Jack Suderman, retiring Mennonite Church Canada general secretary, addresses this year’s annual delegate assembly in Calgary, Alta.

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

After leading three study sessions on Colossians 3:15-17, the Bible theme text for Assembly 2010—Reclaiming Jesus: Gladly Wear the Name—retiring general secretary Robert J. Suderman found himself on the “hot seat.” He faced questions from three eager assembly “students” in a session facilitated by David Beltzer, instructor of communications and media at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), Winnipeg, Man.

That new class of seniors

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 17, 2010

“One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable,” was one of the more endearing lines coming out of Assembly 2010 in Calgary, Alta.

‘A time for inspired leadership and action’

A quilt of sorts was put together as a symbol of the commitment of many interfaith youths and young adults, to aid the Millennium Development Goals in any way possible. It was hung at the University of Winnipeg during the World Religions Summit 2010.

God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | Jul 17, 2010

Just days before the leaders of the G8 countries were preparing to meet in central Ontario to discuss such new issues as maternal health in the developing world and a restoration of the rule of law in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran, religious leaders from these same countries—and others—gathered in Winnipeg in an effort to get their respective governments to live up to a 10-year-old commitment: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

MCC plans for global change

Carole Phillips and Len Block of the Mennonite Central Committee delegate body, and Johnson Gakumba, an Anglican bishop in Uganda, sing “To God Be the Glory” at MCC’s delegate meeting on June 12 in Akron, Pa.

Feature | By By Celeste Kennel-Shank | Jul 12, 2010

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is changing how it does its work, but not the work itself.

That’s how Arli Klassen, MCC Binational executive director, described MCC’s process of streamlining and shifting areas of responsibility among its member organizations. Klassen shared the current models for those changes—which she said are set in “gelatine”—at the June 11-12 meeting of MCC’s binational delegate body. “If there’s enough heat, they can melt, and we can re-form them,” she said.

For Discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Jul 12, 2010

1. How much does your congregation support Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)? Has this changed over the years? What MCC projects have you participated in? How satisfied are the people of your congregation with the mission and program emphases of MCC?

2. The various Mennonite churches that support MCC are theologically diverse. Why do you think we have been able to work together in spite of our differences for so many years? Which MCC programs do conservative Mennonites support? How much has an emphasis on relief work acted as a unifying force?

Asking the right questions

Viewpoints | By Darryl Neustaedter Barg | Jul 12, 2010

I spend a lot of time pondering leadership these days. I see the word everywhere. I suspect I could take a course on leadership every weekend of the year in our city. Despite all this energy on building leaders, I hear more negatives than positives summed up by this recurring phrase, “We just need leadership,” as if this will solve all that’s ailing the church and the world.

From ‘Imagine’ to ‘Material Girl’

Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jul 12, 2010

As a fledgling whipper-snapper the great inherent threat to my young soul was said to be the subliminal messages being “backmasked” into music that would hoodwink me into becoming morally reprobate, or, worse, a Montreal Canadiens fan. Determined, and thoroughly misguided, religious groups fought to have backmasking on vinyl records banned forever.

‘The river sings to me a song’

Susan Pries prepares a group lunch at RiverSong, a day retreat centre along the Conestoga River outside of St. Jacobs, Ont.

God at work in Us | By By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 12, 2010 | 1 comment

The yellow warbler flits among the trees back of the patio and main building at RiverSong as Susan Pries takes a break from providing meals and snacks to a daylong retreat of pastors.

Pries and her husband John own and run the catering, banquet and day retreat centre at Three Bridges, just west of St. Jacobs. They opened in 2008 after six months of renovations to bring the building “up to code” and refresh the décor.

“The business is in John’s name,” says Pries with a laugh. “He has the full-time employment to back the loan.”

Comfortable being rural

Standing by the anniversary tree planted during Cassel Mennonite Church’s recent 75th anniversary celebration are, from left to right: Lucas Swartzentruber, Michael Whitehead and pastor Jim Whitehead.

Viewpoints | By By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 12, 2010

On a cold, wet Sunday morning, May 5, 1935, Arthur Roth, his wife Melinda, and his mother, Mary Schrog Roth, made their way to church in East Zorra Township in southern Ontario. At the end of the lane they made an unaccustomed turn to the left, heading to the new congregation at Cassel, instead of their familiar congregation on the 16th Line: East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church. Just a little way down the road he stopped and asked his mother if she found this acceptable. Her husband had died in the influenza epidemic of 1918 and was buried at the 16th Line church.

Suderman proposes a ninth Millennium Development Goal

Karen Hamilton, general secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), left, enjoys a laugh with Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, at last month’s World Religions Summit 2010 in Winnipeg, Man. MC Canada is a CCC member.

God at work in the World | By by Rachel Bergen | Jul 12, 2010

There are currently eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were agreed to by 192 United Nations member states in 2000 and that are to be achieved by 2015. But according to Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, there should be a ninth.

Suderman was a panelist at the peace and security session of the World Religions Summit 2010, held at the University of Winnipeg campus from June 21-23. “There are people in the world who use religion as a source of violence,” he said. “We need to take that very seriously.”

Addressing the issue of extreme poverty in Canada

The sacred fire, protected in a teepee that was set up by representatives of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada at the World Religions Summit 2010, was lit to act as a doorway for the entrance of the ‘Spirit.’

God at work in the World | By by Rachel Bergen | Jul 12, 2010

Of the 192 member countries of the United Nations, Canada ranks fourth on its Human Development Index, but Canada’s First Nations rank 68th.

According to Edith Von Gunten, who co-directs Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry alongside her husband Neill, “There is a lot of work to do right here in Canada. . . . The treaties are not being honoured or respected.”

A ‘timeless’ message about war and peace

Artbeat | By by John Longhurst | Jul 12, 2010

John Howard Yoder is one of the best-known Mennonite thinkers on peace. But before Yoder, there was Guy F. Hershberger, whose reflections on war, peace and violence not only helped Mennonites navigate perilous times in the early- to mid-20th century, but also laid the foundation for Yoder’s groundbreaking work.

Dark Night leads to stronger faith

Artbeat | By by John Longhurst | Jul 12, 2010

Have you ever felt abandoned by God? You pray, go to church and read the Bible, but God seems so far away. What’s going on?

What’s happening, says Daniel Schrock, is the “dark night.”

“This is something that Christians rarely talk about, but which many experience,” says Schrock, author of Dark Night: A Gift of God (Herald Press). It’s not a punishment, he adds. “It’s one of the ways God changes us so that we can more closely resemble the person God wants us to be.”

Getting to know Menno

Artbeat | By by John Longhurst | Jul 12, 2010

If there is one thing Mennonites should know a lot about, it’s Menno Simons, the 16th century Anabaptist leader who gave their church its name.

I and II Timothy, Titus have practical lessons for life today

Artbeat | By by John Longhurst | Jul 12, 2010

Immoral behaviour, competing religious and ideological beliefs and philosophies, church members and leaders who fail to live up to the high standards of the gospel: It sounds like what’s happening today, but it’s also the world that faced the first-century church.

Secrets abound in This Hidden Thing

Artbeat | By CMU Press Release | Jul 12, 2010

Beginning in Winnipeg in the1920s, This Hidden Thing by Manitoba novelist Dora Dueck tells the moving story of Maria Klassen, a newly landed Mennonite immigrant. Maria becomes a domestic for a prosperous Canadian family in order to support her family as they struggle to build a life for themselves on a farm near the town of Winkler.

“As I was writing Maria’s story, I thought of it as a way of expressing the immigrant experience,” Dueck reflects. “I think, too, that I’m always looking at how people, especially women, live their lives, as a way of navigating my own.”

A leader for these times

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 12, 2010

Because we are a priesthood and not a hierarchy, this space is sparing in calling special attention to any one of its “priests.” But the occasion of the closing session of Mennonite Church Canada’s assembly, held in Calgary, begs for an indulgence in marking the event of the retirement of Robert J. Suderman.

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