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‘A neighbour to all who come’

‘We’re starting to build momentum here . . . to build relationships and have good conversations with people who wouldn’t otherwise come to our church building.’ —Pastor Lydia Crutwell, First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver (First United Mennonite Church photo)

‘Our vision is to be a community of authentic relationships in which we learn how to love God, love one another and love our neighbourhood.’ —Pastor Tim Kuepfer, Chinatown Peace Church, Vancouver (Chinatown Peace Church photo)

‘God is already working in the neighbourhood. How do we as churches follow?’ —Pastor Anna Marie Geddert, Jubilee Mennonite Church, Winnipeg (Jubilee Mennonite Church photo)

Mennonites have always been known as a migrant people, whether moving from Switzerland to North America, from the Netherlands to Prussia and Ukraine, and from Europe to South America and eventually to Canada.

Is belief in Jesus’ resurrection necessary?

Caravaggio’s ‘The Incredulity of Saint Thomas’

‘The Resurrection of Christ’ by unknown painters in the 17th century

‘The Resurrection of Christ’ by an unknown 14th century Greek artist

Tintoretto’s ‘The Resurrection of Christ’

It’s a question I’ve heard many times over the years: “Do Christians really need to believe in Jesus’ resurrection?”

It is, after all, a pretty difficult idea to accept. And this is not just a modern difficulty. It’s been obvious to humans for a very long time that dead people stay dead.

Dying well

Within Mennonite denominations, the closure of churches is also a reality that requires acknowledgement and careful planning, so that their legacy might be a blessing. (Photo: © istock.com/hal990)

In Alberta, Faith Mennonite Church and Vauxhall Mennonite Church closed their doors in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Both congregations gave some funds to Camp Valaqua, a ministry of Mennonite Church Alberta. The contributions enabled the construction of the Faith Retreat Centre, above, and the Vauxhall Cabin, increasing the usability and accessibility of the camp for all. (Camp Valaqua photo)

Camp Valaqua received funds from two Alberta churches when they closed their doors. (Camp Valaqua photo)

After 71 years of faithful service, Riverdale Mennonite Church in Millbank, Ont., closed its doors on Aug. 31, 2017. The building was sold to the Berean Community Church for a dollar the next day. (Photo by Sheryl Frey)

Every living thing eventually dies, including churches. Just as people who do not plan for death may complicate things for their families, churches that do not plan for eventual closure can leave a mess for congregants and their surrounding communities.

Peace is everyone’s business

Constructing a house of peace that is inclusive, containing a health and safe environment in which the human soul can thrive requires the involvement of all vocations and disciplines. (Photo © istock.com/danr13)

The political scientist Harold Lasswell once defined politics to be “who gets what, when and how.” If that is politics, peace studies in contrast can be seen as an attempt to answer the question “why” things are given to whom, when and how.

‘Serving the Lord with gladness’

Opening of the MCC Ontario building in 1964. Pictured from left to right: MCC executive secretary William Snyder, Fred Nighswander, Henry H. Epp and Abner Cressman. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record file photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When Kathy Hildebrand attended the 1969 annual MCC meeting, she commented to executive secretary William Snyder, ‘I didn’t come to shop at Marshall Field! I came to hear what MCC is doing.’ (Burton Buller photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

William Snyder, MCC’s executive secretary, left, congratulates the retired Orie O. Miller, MCC executive secretary emeritus, at a dinner honouring him on his 75th birthday at the 1968 annual meeting of MCC in Chicago. (CM photograph collection / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When the indomitable Orie O. Miller retired from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in 1958, there was a lot of speculation about who would fill his big shoes. In Miller’s mind, though, that question had been settled years earlier, when he chose, out of the rich Civilian Public Service (CPS) talent pool, the unpresumptuous William Thomas Snyder to be his associate.

Letter to the family: A mother’s treasure

Anneken Kendriks is burned in Amsterdam in 1571. (Etching by Jan Luyken, from Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Published by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.)

Catharine Mulerin is apprehended. (Etching by Jan Luyken, from Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Published by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.)

The sons of Maeyken Wens search for her tongue screw among her ashes in Antwerp in 1573. (Etching by Jan Luyken, from Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Published by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.)

Children are among the most important things given to us in our lives. With this gift comes the responsibility of passing on our faith. This can be a daunting task in a cultural climate that isn’t always friendly to followers of Jesus. 

God with us with God

‘The Flight into Egypt,’ an icon from the late 15th century, currently housed in the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece.

So I end with the question Ed asked me: ‘Are you ready for Christmas? (Photo sourced from ©istock.com/Manuel Faba Ortega)

Ryan Dueck

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

The question came from Ed, a cheerful clerk at Save-On-Foods, as I was picking up some milk.

What kind of response was he seeking? Was he asking if I had I finished all my Christmas shopping? If so, the answer would be, yes, mostly, meager though my efforts are.

‘Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory’

Wherever Jesus goes, we see God’s kingdom descending from heaven to earth. Wherever Jesus appears, God’s loving power takes hold. A hemorrhaging woman is healed of her infirmity; a rich man gives away half his wealth. In Jesus’ healing, teaching, dying and rising, God is rescuing the world; the mending of creation has begun. Yet paradise has not yet been restored.

A hoof and heart both need mending

Doug Klassen's horse Dolly had a visit from her farrier. (Photo courtesy of Doug Klassen)

Doug Klassen's horse Dolly is kindly and carefully cared for by her farrier Morgan Girletz, who spent a hour-and-a half making a delicate repair to her hoof. It inspired Doug to write this feature article. (Photo courtesy of Doug Klassen)

Doug Klassen

He was a welcome sight when his truck and trailer pulled into the yard. Even before the truck stopped moving, he jumped out the passenger side and started walking toward me.

“Doctor Klassen?” he said as he held a cigarette at the side of his mouth. He reached out his tattoo-laden arm and introduced himself: “Morgan Girletz. Good to meet ya. Let’s see yer horse!”

Prodigal pastor

Seventy-four-year-old George Ediger rushed out of church during the final song and caught up with the newcomer in the parking lot before the big young visitor with the shaved head and biker beard could escape in the maroon hot rod that stood out among the grey and beige sedans.

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.’—Aaron Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)

‘I have also been deeply hurt by experiences in the church and have sometimes wondered why I stay. But I have stayed because, in the end, unlike Aaron, I find that it does matter to me. This is my tribe, warts and all.’—Angelika Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)

Aaron Dawson and his mother Angelika in their Star Wars ‘Force for change’ T-shirts. (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)

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

Ceremonies of belief

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.

Be a CO at tax time

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.


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