Like many pastors, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, who co-pastors First Mennonite Church in Edmonton with her husband Tim, enjoys creating space for creative gifts to flourish. “It’s totally selfish. I love working with people like that,” she says in a telephone interview. Her enthusiasm is evident in her voice.
The success of In the Spirit of Humanity, a series of art workshops encouraging acceptance of others across cultures and faith groups, prompted Mennonite Church Canada’s Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery curator Ray Dirks and fellow artists Manju Lodha and Isam Aboud to share the experience.
Sashira Gafic: Day 1. Acrylic on Canvas. This is the first of a series of seven pieces inspired by Genesis 1:1-5.
Painting by adult EAL student depicting the murder of her husband. The artist broke into song as she painted and was joined by others. Soon, singing became weeping as they mourned together.
While some creative arts like prose and hymnody have been accepted as natural forms of expression and worship in Mennonite churches, visual arts are often viewed with less certainty. For painters, sculptors and other artists who craft for the eye, this can be disheartening.
On the surface, the story is simple and satisfying: The good guys got bin Laden. Justice has been done. The fight against the forces of evil will continue.
This is the underlying plot that western leaders have used to speak about the U.S. strike on Osama bin Laden. But some religious leaders warn against over-simplifying the script.
1. How are conflicts in the faith community different from those in other organizations? Do you think such conflicts show a lack of a caring community? What is the most important thing we can do to reduce such conflicts?
Pastor Epp (a pseudonym), finding himself in conflict with his church board, became increasingly depressed. Sharing his emotional ill health with the board, they arrived at a compromise about the number of times he should preach. Or so he thought.
1. What aid agencies do the people of your congregation support? Do Mennonites in Canada see Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as primary or just one of many agencies? How strong is the connection between MCC and the people in the pew? Does your congregation distinguish between the work of your provincial organization and the national or international parts of MCC?
I grew up with the admonition, “self-praise stinks,” a phrase best expressed in the Pennsylvania-German dialect. During my years as executive secretary of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) from 1985-96, I was reluctant to be too overtly enthusiastic about this well-regarded service ministry. I also believe in the imperative of personal and organizational self-criticism.
MRI imaging of the brain shows that interpersonal relationships have a measurable impact on brain activity: James Coan.
“We have cracked the code of love,” announced Sue Johnson, EdD, author of Hold Me Tight to 1,200 people attending “Conversations on Attachment – Integrating the Science of Love and Spirituality,” a three-day conference held Mar. 31-Apr. 2 at Eastern Mennonite University.
Early relationships between European settlers and aboriginals were characterized by
1. How was your spirituality formed as you grew up? In what ways has Mennonite spirituality been changing?
2. Do you feel that you encounter God through your current spiritual practice? How important is it for our congregations to work at renewing spirituality? Is this best done individually or as communities? How can we best work at renewal?
Over thirty pastors and lay people gathered earlier this year to hear Arnold Snyder, retiring Conrad Grebel University College professor of history, give two two-hour long lectures on Anabaptist-Mennonite spiritual formation in a historical perspective.
However difficult this book is to read, Dawn Ruth Nelson has done the church a significant service in her study. Her effort to both diagnose the malaise in North American Mennonite spirituality and propose remedial measures suffers from a poor choice of title and could have benefited from tighter editing.
God is a living God who encounters us in our daily lives.” So said Arnold Snyder, professor of history at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., during a Reformation Sunday sermon last fall at Wilmot Mennonite Church, New Hamburg.
In addition to the usual Assembly 2011 activities, local organizers have planned a number of tours of Waterloo Region, including:
1. When did your congregation first have a woman preach a sermon or first have a woman pastor? How open was the congregation to this change? Were there surprises in who resisted? How has the attitude toward women pastors changed since the 1970s?
Throughout her childhood and youth Martha Smith Good believed her conservative Swiss Markham-Waterloo Mennonite church north of Toronto was all about rules and regulations. “In my spirit/soul I knew there was something more, and I wanted to find that,” she says.
It was the simple yet profound welcome she received as a stranger in a Mennonite church that made all the difference to Erin Morash, who says she grew up in “an extraordinarily secular family.”