She wept as she told her gripping story of being criminalized by the Canadian government for exercising her indigenous rights to fish from the Fraser River. And she drummed a prayer for “indigenous” Mennonites attending the overflow “Sacred Scripture in Invaded Space” Assembly workshop as she appealed for help in fighting a lonely battle in the courts for the past decade.
Jesus plays the role of scapegoat so that we don’t have to hate, kill and blame each other for those sins, observed Rose Graber in discussing the “Three Views of the Atonement” workshop led by April Yamasaki. The workshop focused on Christ-the-Victor, Substitutionary and Moral Influence categories developed by biblical scholars over the ages.
Randy Wiebe, Mennonite Church Canada’s CFO, reported to delegates at Assembly 2012 that while total revenues increased by $55,000 over the previous year, the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2012 still ended with a $129,000 deficit. Wiebe showed the continuing downward trend since 2004, and warned that increasing or even maintaining current programming is not possible over the long term.
Brander McDonald, MCBC Indigenous Relations Coordinator, plays a West Coast native lullaby to say welcome to the natives on whose land the assembly was held.
The “Dust on the Bible” band—(l-r) Chad Miller (Associate Pastor at Foothills Mennonite, Calgary), Doug Klassen (Senior Pastor at Foothills), Jerry Buhler (MC Saskatchewan Conference Minister), and Joanna and Andrew Reesor-McDowell (Hagerman Mennonite, Toronto)—play the bluegrass classic, “Dust on the Bible.”
Participants of a humorous skit describing Korean social rules take a bow at the Friday evening barbecue at MC Canada Assembly 2012 in Vancouver.
Lily Cheung, an assembly volunteer, shepherds participants onto their bus after the Friday evening barbecue.
We know of Jesus writing only once, Tom Yoder Neufeld told the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly gathered here for Sunday morning worship. Urging his listeners to use more than the written word, he recalled the story of the woman adulterer’s accusers fuming while Jesus wrote in the dust on the ground.
1. How is the role of women understood in your congregation? Are women taught to be subservient and submissive? Are women given proper respect? Why might submissive women be more vulnerable to emotional abuse? What do you understand to be Paul’s message in Ephesians 5:22-33?
Ambroise Kabeya Kanda Mwanda of the Democratic Republic of Congo looks across the Limmat River as it passes through Zurich, Switzerland, where Anabaptist martyr Felix Manz’s death sentence was read on Jan. 5, 1527.
Walking along the bank of the Limmat River, Thioro Bananzoro ponders the challenges Anabaptists have turned into opportunities over the last five centuries.
1. How does your congregation go about making important decisions? Do you use discernment language? How do you listen for the voice of God when you are wrestling with an issue? Who takes leadership in discernment? What is the relationship between discernment and decision-making?
- Trust that God is with us throughout the discernment process no matter the decision.
- Figure out what the issue is. This is really important! We can spend a lot of time trying to discern something without knowing what the issue is.
Because of their belief that everyone was a ‘priest’ in discerning biblical truth as members of the body of Christ, the first Anabaptists of the 16th century were forced to meet in caves, such as this one outside of Zurich, Switzerland. Modern Mennonites frequent the cave in their tours of Europe, such as this group in 2007.
Discernment is a common topic in our congregations these days. We discern a pastoral call, a building program, theology and biblical texts.
For five years I lived and worked in the outskirts of San Salvador, El Salvador, with an organization supporting marginalized families living with HIV/AIDS. Although the agonizing combination of poverty and HIV formed a part of my daily experience, AIDS was not the main epidemic that surrounded my life.
1. What role models are boys and young men exposed to today? How well do our families and churches do in providing healthy male role models? Does pop culture provide positive as well as negative images of what it means to be a man? Who were the positive role models of earlier generations?
Doug Klassen, pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alta., served as Pastor in Residence at Canadian Mennonite University in late January and early February 2012. His presentation about the role of men in society at the CMU Monday forum sparked lots of discussion. He reflected further on the topic in a sermon at Foothills Mennonite on February 12, 2012.
1. What are some ways that parenting today is similar to, and different from, earlier generations? Were yesterday’s parents also “scared and overwhelmed”? Do today’s parents tend to hover too much? What role should cell phones play in parenting? Are our children too closely programmed? To what degree is materialism a threat to our families?
Parents of students at MEI Schools in Abbotsford, B.C., attend one of Dave Currie’s ‘i-Parent’ sessions, that are billed as ‘formatting the next generation.’
Are my children going to be okay?” This is the overriding concern that Kathy Giesbrecht, associate director of leadership ministries for Mennonite Church Manitoba, hears and senses from parents. Parents are scared and overwhelmed, and there is no manual for them to keep in their back pocket.
1. Does your congregation have a safe church policy? Whose responsibility is it to implement and review the policy? What has been the effect of the policy? How does it relate to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:5-7?
Anne Wiens is determined to avoid food safety inspection hassles like those experienced the last time the annual Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale was hosted in Didsbury, Alta., in 2009.
Ontario pastor Kevin Peters-Unrau tells a Kafkaesque story of what happened when he volunteered to work with children in his community.
- Resolution: Be it resolved that Canada would be more secure if funding were re-allocated from the military to development at home and abroad.
- Speaker for the resolution: Professor Constance Candida
- Speaker against the resolution: Retired General Warren Shuter
The heart of the Christian life is aligning ourselves with God’s love. We squander love and then turn to the Spirit to fill us with it again. Even harder than that, especially as we try to make sense of our church’s current struggles, is what to do when we come to the sinking feeling that our problem might be that we understand God’s love in different and contrary ways.
“As part of my probation conditions, I have to stay away from places where there are families,” says Joe Patterson, “so that made finding a church hard.”
1. Do you know people like Sue and Bill in the story? Does your congregation provide Sunday school classes that appeal more to Sue or to Bill? Do you see the world in a modernist or postmodernist way? Are younger people more apt to be postmodernists?
- Be honest in everything.
- Be open about our ignorance.
- Be open to questions and discussion about anything.
- Care for the other (locally and globally), without hope of them joining us.