Why Lent?

Once again the Mennonite Brethren are promoting their new ancient tradition of Lent. In the February 2015 issue of the MB Herald[1] are two plugs. The first is an article by Norm Funk, founding pastor of Westside Church, Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). He begins with a very good question . . .

Why Lent, why Now?

There were certain traditions in my Mennonite Brethren upbringing; Lent wasn’t one of them.
So why Lent, and why now?
I’ve wrestled with this. Here’s my answer: my main motivation is birthed out of what I see as a lack of preparation and thoughtfulness connected to the Easter season.
Lent helps battle that tendency. Lent doesn’t just remind us of the cross; it prepares us for it.
Lent invites people to join Jesus on the way to the crucifixion. Fasts – one or many – assist in that process. Obviously, the joy of Good Friday comes because the tomb was empty Sunday; however, in the sacrament of communion we are called to remember Jesus’ death. . .

More here:
http://mbherald.com/lent-now/

[Note: The comment thread following this article at the above link is quite informative.]

We also discover in this same MB Herald issue that the MB Biblical Seminary Canada has produced a devotional resource for the MB family this Lent and Easter called “Waiting for the Resurrection: A Collection of Readings for Lent and Easter”.[2]

Turning toward the resurrection

“The resurrection changes everything,” says Jeff Peters, director of advancement at MB Biblical Seminary Canada. “Christians should spend time contemplating and celebrating this pivotal event.”
The seminary has produced a devotional resource for the MB family this Lent and Easter.
Available for download, “Waiting for the Resurrection: A Collection of Readings for Lent and Easter” contains forty-one 300–400 word devotionals reflecting on a Scripture passage.
For each of the six Sundays of the Lenten season, a poem, song, reflection or prayers from the history of the Christian church foster excitement about the coming resurrection.
Contributors are Canadian pastors, scholars and leaders from MB and other traditions.
The seminary resources the MB family in Canada with training and special initiatives like this devotional. A limited number of hard copies will be sent to churches and supporters. Donations to cover costs are welcome.

SOURCE: http://mbherald.com/turning-toward-resurrection/

The Mennonites who download the recommended devotional will now be taught through a collection of meditations about the new traditions of Lent (Lenten Season, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Holy Saturday). The contributions of these Lenten Devotionals are from various Mennonite Brethren pastors and seminary leaders, and a few surprises, including one by Rachel Twigg Boyce[3], Pastor of House Blend Ministries in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Why Lent? The answer appears to be obviously simple. The spread of ecumenical yeast seems to have spread through the whole lump of Mennonite dough.

____________

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/february-2015-issue/
[2] http://www.mbseminary.ca/devotional
[3] For previous blog posts on Rachel Twigg-Boyce, see:
WHY IS THE MB HERALD FEATURING “A RADICAL PRAYER GATHERING” LED BY RACHEL TWIGG-BOYCE?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/why-is-the-mb-herald-featuring-a-radical-prayer-gathering-led-by-rachel-twigg-boyce/
Is the MB Conference Knowingly Condoning Ecumencial Inter-spiritual Practices?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/is-the-mb-conference-knowingly-condoning-ecumencial-inter-spiritual-practices/
More House Blend
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/more-house-blend/
MB Herald promotes Ecumenism, New Monasticism
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/mb-herald-promotes-ecumenism-new-monasticism/

____________

* Related blog posts on Mennonites and Lent:

Bent on Lent
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/bent-on-lent/

Mennonites, Lent, and Spiritual Direction (Updated)
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mennonites-lent-and-spiritual-direction/

Lent, the New Mennonite Tradition
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/lent-the-new-mennonite-tradition/

Also of interest:

The pagan goddess behind the holiday of ‘Easter’
http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-pagan-goddess-behind-the-holiday-of-easter/

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A Little Paganism and Hinduism at Mennonite U?

When searching for a Christian university or Bible college to attend, little clues can indicate some very big spiritual and theological issues.

For example, Eastern Mennonite University calls itself “a Christian university like no other, rooted in values of peacemaking, community and service.” Besides academics, this university also offers counselling services and fitness exercises for the wellbeing of its students. Two items pertaining to these, from EMU’s website, are indicative of how far off course a Christian institution can drift from its moorings and biblical roots when it is rooted in peace making, community and service instead of the Bible.

Item #1: Counseling services offered with a tiny quote from . . . who?

EMU Counseling Services

“A skilled listener can help people tap into their own wisdom.” ― Richard Rohr

SOURCE: http://www.emu.edu/studentlife/counseling/

It’s just a small quote, and aside from the fact that our own wisdom is not worth much (Isaiah 5:21), if one can estimate what a person is feeding their mind by the people they quote, how much more a school of learning? This is not the first time that Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr’s pagan teachings have been influential on a Mennonite institution of learning. See More Rohr Influence – this time at Inter-Mennonite Bible College and Brian McLaren’s good friend Richard Rohr.

Item #2: EMU Fitness Center classes are offering . . . what?

Fall Semester 2014 Exercise Classes

-Power Yoga
Get ready to get moving! This invigorating vinyasa (flow) based class is designed to spark your inner fire and empower you physically and mentally. This class moves continuously, all levels welcome.
Tuesdays 5:15 – 6:15 PM Sept. 2 – Nov. 25 excluding Oct. 21
Instructor: Jamie Morgan
Thursdays 5:15 – 6:15 PM Sept. 4 – Nov. 20
Instructor: Taylor Evans

-Flow Yoga
A practice that links movement with breath to create a continuity from one posture to the next. Accessible to all levels, expect basic standing and seated postures, strengthening and stretching poses.
Wednesdays noon – 1 pm Sept. 3 – Nov. 19 
Instructor: Donovan Seow

SOURCE: http://www.emu.edu/studentlife/fitnesscenter/classes/

Supporters of Eastern Mennonite University may want to ask why students are given the opportunity to learn to practice the Hindu religion at the Fitness Center in their Christian university, if according to the following, this is in fact what it is:

What is vinyasa? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyāsa
What is inner fire? See: http://www.devanadiyoga.com/class/inner-fire-vinyasa/
What is Flow Yoga? See: http://yoga.about.com/od/typesofyoga/a/vinyasa.htm
Is YOGA Just Exercise or a Hindu Religion? See: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/yoga.htm

A tiny quote, a small class… and soon a little spiritual compromise goes a long way. But then again, what can one expect from a Christian university that has its own labyrinth and is immersed in contemplative spiritual formation?

NEW: Also see:

A Public Service Announcement Regarding Goshen and EMU.
https://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/a-public-service-announcement-regarding-goshen-and-emu/#more-5371

Mennonite Brethren Still Spreading Stillness

As more and more evangelical leaders are compromising and crossing the ecumenical bridge toward Rome[1], quietly joining them are the Mennonite Brethren. They are not blatantly announcing it, but just revealing the direction they have been taking more subtly for some time now. It began silently, and still continues to spread through contemplative spiritual formation being taught in their seminaries and churches.

A recent example of this can be found on the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary website (www.mbseminary.ca) where viewers can watch a faculty testimony video and read a news article commending the Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies for Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary Canada and Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg). . .

SEMINARY PROFESSOR RECOGNIZED BY EVANGELICAL PRESS ASSOCIATION
May 21, 2014
The Evangelical Press Association recently awarded Professor Andrew Dyck a 3rd place award for his article, “Sowing Seeds or tossing nutshells?” published in the October 2013 issue of MB Herald. The “Higher Goals” competition honors individual aspects of a publication, such as reporting, column writing and design. Professor Dyck received this honor in the Evangelism category. To read the article online, go to… http://mbherald.com/sowing-seeds-or-tossing-nutshells/.
Source: http://www.mbseminary.ca/%5B2%5D

The sincerity and qualifications of this seminary professor are not the issue. The disturbing trend that is becoming more apparent is that the Mennonite Brethren have become more comfortable with their acceptance of contemplative spirituality and those who teach it.

Last September in St. Catharines, the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren churches promoted a contemplative workshop (led by this same professor). . .

Day in the Word
Being with God in Stillness and Scripture
September 21

Evangelicals have often emphasized having a personal “Quiet Time.” 
This has meant setting aside time regularly for reading the Bible, reflecting and praying—often accompanied by some form of journaling. Believers have sought to nurture their personal relationship with Christ by doing these activities every day.
Over time, however, Bible reading can be reduced to rote reading, intellectual study, or a springboard for one’s own musings—without listening for God’s communication. Similarly, Quiet Time can become so filled with activity that there is no quietness in which to pay attention to the Spirit’s still small voice. Believers are left wondering whether Jesus’ followers can hear God’s voice, or even whether God still communicates to people.
If this is your experience, your participation in this one-day workshop can help to open your heart and set you on a path to hearing God’s voice and refreshing your relationship with him.
Two experienced pastors will lead participants into fresh and time-tested ways of having a conversational relationship with Jesus:
- by addressing this topic in the light of scripture and experience; 
- by guiding the group into two spiritual practices that open the possibility of encountering God as personal and communicating. 
These practices are stillness, and “sacred reading” of Scripture (i.e. lectio divina).

Seminary Credit
If you’d like to take this worshop as a seminary credit please contact Andrew Dyck at adyck@cmu.ca for a syllabus with a reading list and assignments.

About the Workshop
This one-day workshop provides an ideal learning environment and time context for those with busy schedules. The material is presented in a clear and concise manner that is suited to persons of any age, to newcomers as well as seasoned Christians and mature students of the Word.
By means of gifted teachers and leaders and with the use of numerous visual aids, you will be amazed at the truths you will come to understand as we methodically walk through the spiritual disciplines of stillness and lectio divina.
You will enjoy learning in a comfortable, relaxed setting, and have the opportunity to fellowship with others during breaks and over lunch.
Come and discover the treasures of Christ for yourself.

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e82odozp134c7152&llr=bwatvmcab

This workshop on stillness and Lectio Divina was also offered last fall to students at Mennonite Biblical Seminary . . .

This fall, one of the courses offered by the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary to equip future pastors and teachers and missionaries is listed on the CMU 2013-14 COURSE TIMETABLE:
BTS-5960M Being with God in Stillness and Scripture (1.0 credit hour) This course will draw on biblical, historical and experiential resources for developing a conversational relationship with Jesus Christ through the practices of stillness, and `sacred reading’ of Scripture (lectio divina). Students will complete several assignments after participating in a one-day workshop. (In 2013 this workshop will be offered in two Ontario locations.)
Instructor: Andrew Dyck
http://www.mbseminary.ca/cmu-courses

https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/stillness-and-lectio-divina-at-a-mennonite-biblical-seminary/

What are these practices of stillness and Lectio Divina? Briefly…

Stillness:

Different than finding a quiet place away from noise and distractions, the silence is referring to a stillness of the mind.
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm

Lectio Divina:

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that, it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy.
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/lectiodivina.htm

As controversial as these methods are, Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba (http://mbcm.ca/) has also condoned contemplative prayer as taught by this same professor. On their website, another article called Does praying include listening?[3] by Andrew Dyck explores listening prayer, stillness and silence. . .

“Several emphases in Scripture suggest that stillness and listening are indeed meant to accompany our praying. Psalm 131 (a favourite of mine, not least because it challenges my ambitions) addresses the LORD with these lines, “I have calmed and quieted myself / I am like a weaned child with its mother.” As I once heard the Rev. Mike Stewart of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Abbotsford comment: in our culture of ambition, noise and busyness, silence with God is one of the most important practices we can cultivate in our congregations.

… Praying—asking God—needs to be embedded in the silence of stilling our souls, of depending on God to be praying on our behalf to God, and of being alert and attentive to life.

I learned this some years ago, when I discovered that in spite of praying for many people in my pastoral role (e.g. beside hospital beds, during prayer meetings, leading worship services), I rarely felt moved to pray for people in my private prayers. When I told this to a wise spiritual director, he said, “Tell this to God, and just be quiet and wait. Pay attention, and see how Jesus invites you.” In the coming months, as I did this, I discovered occasions when I found myself deeply desiring God’s goodness for someone I knew. By becoming silent with God, I learned how to ask God.

I am convinced that silence needs to be an integral part of our praying—not only when we are alone, but also in our times of praying together. Communal prayer trains us in private prayer (that’s why we’ve been given the Psalms). Therefore, prayerful silence needs to be a normal part of our worship gatherings. And not  just 30 seconds of “let’s- pause-for-a-moment-of-silent-prayer,” but much longer intervals of stillness—even minutes long, or more!—since we can’t ‘still and quiet our souls’ in a mere 60 seconds.

When silence and listening become embedded in our practices of praying without ceasing, perhaps our lives will indeed become incense to God.”

Although Andrew Dyck does not specifically refer to Roman Catholic sources, he ends his article with the recommendation of a prayer website called Sacred Space. . .

A RESOURCE:

I recommend the website www.sacredspace.ie for incorporating silence with prayer. This daily prayer site is provided by Irish Jesuits, who emphasize that “when you pray you are not alone. You are part of a global community.” This prayer guide is organized around 6 simple steps: (a) become aware of God’s presence, (b) desire and acknowledge the freedom God gives us, (c) become conscious about oneself with God, (d) meditate on The Word of God, (e) have conversation with Jesus, and (f) conclude with God’s glory. When I use this guide leisurely, allowing for ample silence during and between each step, I have often  been refreshed, challenged, invited and renewed by God’s Spirit.

This guided prayer website belongs to the Jesuits, the order founded by Ignatius of Loyola that led the counter reformation. Their mission continues today in the new evangelization plan to bring the “separated brethren” back “home” to the church of Rome[4]. After the Jesuit recommendation at the end of Andrew Dyck’s article, a note from the MBCM says:

This blog is the second in a series of monthly posts that are offered to “equip, resource and inspire” the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba in praying.

Apparently, MBCM must agree that Jesuit guided prayer is a good global link to Jesus. They also give their readers a link to Andrew Dyck’s blog, where in his recent post, Repetitive Prayer: Vain or Meaning-full?[5], he recommends Taize, The Jesus Prayer and a book called Take Our Moments and Our Days – An Anabaptist Prayer Book: Ordinary Time. Arthur Boers, an editor of this book, is an ordained Mennonite Church USA minister and a Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey. (Boers also wrote Day by Day These Things We Pray – Uncovering Ancient Rhythms of Prayer (Herald Press 2010), a revision of his earlier book called The Rhythm of God’s Grace: Uncovering Morning and Evening Hours of Prayer. It’s about monastic prayer disciplines (fixed hours of prayer, the daily office, etc.) which Boers first discovered in a book by a Jesuit priest that made him realize he had much to learn from other traditions.[6]

What will the students coming out of Mennonite Brethen Biblical Seminary, their churches, and their places of service look like in 10 years from now? Andrew Dyck’s spiritual direction began just over 10 years ago, when…

“Andrew Dyck of King Road MB Church in Abbotsford, B.C. was awarded a Study Grant for Pastoral Leaders given out by The Louisville Institute. He was one of only 40 pastors from across North America to receive the award in 2002, out of 236 applicants…
Dyck also joined nine other MBs to begin a two-year series of retreats and spiritual direction under the leadership of Steve Imbach, focusing on prayer, listening to God and discernment; this experience is intended to prepare them to give spiritual direction to others.”
-Mennonite Brethren Herald • Volume 41, No. 14 • August 2, 2002

MB pastor wins sabbatical award 

old.mbherald.com/41-14/profile.html?view=p

It was only a matter of time until this spiritual direction led by Steve Imbach would lead to more contemplative spirituality and eventually go mainstream in the Mennonite Brethren churches[7]. Imbach co-founded the contemplative SoulStream (soulstream.org) for those seeking a contemplative community through spiritual direction training, retreats and courses in the Vancouver, B.C. area. Soulstream draws heavily from the teachings of Thomas Merton[8], a trappist Monk. In 2004 a retreat for pastors in the BC MB Conference (Mennonite Brethren of British Columbia, Canada) took place at Silver Star Mountain Resort. This prayer retreat for pastors and their spouses, focusing on spiritual direction[9], was also led by Imbach of SoulStream.

What began with a little bit of stillness and spiritual direction has now spread, like yeast through an entire lump of dough. Only a decade after contemplative spirituality was introduced, it is now being taught at Mennonite Brethren Seminary[10] and is showing up in most Mennonite churches.

Considering that the meditation methods of monks are being so highly esteemed and taught in the Mennonite Brethren seminaries and conferences, wouldn’t it be safe to say that the Mennonite Brethren are no longer following the footsteps of their namesake, Menno Simons, who bravely left false teaching? Instead of standing on the Solid Rock, many who still call themselves Mennonites seem to be picking up speed on their slide down the slippery slope of silent contemplation and ecumenical compromise.

Were he here to today, what would Menno Simons blog about that?

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
1 Corinthians 5:6

________
Endnotes:

[1] See:
The Great Convergence and the End of the Age http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/06/great-convergence-end-age
TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’ http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15760
CBN Building Bridges to Rome http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/cbn-building-bridges-to-rome/
Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome? http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1591
Evangelical Church Takes Another Big Step Toward Rome—This Time? Franklin Graham http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=159664
[2] Also found here: http://www.mbseminary.ca/news-updates/seminary-professor-recognized-by-evangelical-press-association
[3] http://mbcm.ca/does-praying-include-listening/
[4] “. . .the Counter Reformation (tha) was founded to bring the “Separated Brethren” back to the “Mother of All Churches” . . . was largely headed by Ignatius Loyola, the man who founded the Jesuit Order in the mid 1500s and launched an all-out attack against those who dared stand against the papacy and Rome… While most Christians think that the Counter Reformation is a thing of the past because we are not seeing Inquisitions today, this movement continues until today and with renewed effort through various avenues of the evangelical/Protestant church. In a way, it is more insidious than the Inquisitions, because now it has infiltrated Christianity and is being disguised as the “new” Christianity. . . By their very roots, Jesuits are proponents of mystical prayer practices. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, created “spiritual exercises” that incorporated mysticism, including lectio divina. Today, millions of people worldwide practice the “Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.” “
SOURCE: The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c97.shtml
[5] http://bringinggifts.com/2014/07/08/repetitive-prayer-vain-or-meaning-full/
[6] See also:
MB Herald promotes ancient rhythms of monastic prayer https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/mb-herald-promotes-ancient-rhythms-of-monastic-prayer/
The Influence of Mennonite Oblate Arthur Boers Reaches 100 Huntley Street https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/the-influence-of-mennonite-oblate-arthur-boers-reaches-100-huntley-street/
[7]Disappointment in the MB Herald (UPDATED 2013) https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/disappointment-in-the-mb-herald/
[8] Catholic lay monk Wayne Teasdale says this of Thomas Merton:
“Thomas Merton was perhaps the greatest popularizer of interspirituality. He opened the door for Christians to explore other traditions, notably Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Hinduism and Buddhism.” [Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions – Wayne Teasdale]
[9]Contemplative Mennonite Retreats http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/contemplative-mennonite-retreats/
[10]The Stillness and Lectio Divina at a Mennonite “Biblical” Seminary? https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/stillness-and-lectio-divina-at-a-mennonite-biblical-seminary/

Related:

Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=633

The Road to Rome: The New Evangelization Plan to Win Back “the Lost Brethren” http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=654

CERTAIN MEN CREPT IN http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c151crept.shtml

Ruth Haley Barton Trains Mennonites to Discern in the Silence

Last month, hundreds of people at Eastern Mennonite Seminary explored the discernment process of difficult church issues. The topic was fuelled by EMU’s announcement of a listening process for hiring homosexuals and the Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s decision to license a gay pastor.

To help this new process was an “elephant in the room” service where participants were told to imagine themselves in the presence of Jesus with people they disagreed with.

One of the speakers teaching these leaders in the discernment training process was Ruth Haley Barton, founder of the Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill., who told them that it starts with “spiritually formed leaders who are intentionally attuned to the Holy Spirit” and spend time in prayer and solitude. Barton’s process outline for discernment in meetings included group sharing, listening to God, prayer and time spent in silence.

Often, according to Barton, the time spent in silence is key to the decision-making process.
“After 30 minutes of silence when each member of the group spends time seeking God, often a way forward emerges,” Barton said.
“If the group is ready to respond, each member is asked to voice their level of agreement — either completely agree, agree with some reservations, don’t agree but will defer to the process of the group, or don’t agree at all. If people don’t agree, then the process begins again. Unity is the marker that God’s will is being done.”
Source: Seminary program confronts discernment issues
http://www.mennoworld.org/2014/2/17/seminary-program-confronts-discernment-issues

Biblical truth is not mentioned in this experience based discernment process. Maybe this is because it didn’t work for Ruth Haley Barton, as she admitted…

“A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.”
Source: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/ruthhaleybarton.htm

Barton then sought spiritual direction at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, where she learned the ancient disciplines and practices of contemplative spirituality.

Instead of being trained to seek God’s written Word for discernment on issues He has already spoken so clearly about, these Mennonite leaders at EMU are being trained to use their imaginations and find direction based on group experience and what they hear in the silence of contemplative prayer.

Related:

The Spiritual Journey of Ruth Haley Barton
http://www.truthkeepers.com/?page_id=125

Do Christian Leaders Understand The Contemplative Prayer Movement
http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/christianleaderscontemplativeprayer.html

WHO IS RUTH HALEY BARTON?
http://apprising.org/2008/09/17/who-is-ruth-haley-barton/

MC USA Executive Board releases statement on LBGTQ inclusion
http://www.themennonite.org/issues/17-2/articles/MC_USA_Executive_Board_releases_statement_on_LBGT_inclusion

UPDATE: July 2015

One result of the above “listening process”:

Two Mennonite Colleges Announce Hiring Policy Change to Employ ‘Married’ Homosexuals
http://christiannews.net/2015/07/22/two-mennonite-colleges-announce-hiring-policy-change-to-employ-married-homosexuals/

Mennonite University Considering Policy Change to Allow Homosexual Faculty

Mennonite University Considering Policy Change to Allow Homosexual Faculty

HARRISONBURG, Va. – A Mennonite university in Virginia is considering making a change to its current hiring policy to allow faculty members to be in same-sex relationships.

Eastern Mennonite University issued a news release on the matter last week, noting that it has decided to open up a 60-day listening period “to review current hiring policies and practices with respect to individuals in same-sex relationships.” President Loren Swartzendruber was authorized unanimously by the school board to design and oversee the process, which will begin in January.

“As a Christian university, it is our responsibility to engage in community discussion and discernment over issues that Mennonite congregations—indeed almost all denominations in the United States today—are wrestling with,” he stated at a recent staff forum. “One responsibility of leadership is to help define reality.”

More here:

http://christiannews.net/2013/11/25/mennonite-university-considering-policy-change-to-allow-homosexual-faculty/

RELATED:

Mennonite Church USA Same Sex Marriage Symposium
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/mennonite-church-usa-same-sex-marriage-symposium/

The Conversation has begun
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/the-conversation-has-begun/

UPDATE:

Two Mennonite Colleges Announce Hiring Policy Change to Employ ‘Married’ Homosexuals
http://christiannews.net/2015/07/22/two-mennonite-colleges-announce-hiring-policy-change-to-employ-married-homosexuals/

More Mennonite Stillness and Lectio Divina

Not only is the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary teaching the stillness and lectio divina,[1] the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is promoting a one day contemplative workshop this fall called a Day in the Word:

“…this one-day workshop can help to open your heart and set you on a path to hearing God’s voice and refreshing your relationship with him. Two experienced pastors will lead participants into fresh and time-tested ways of having a conversational relationship with Jesus—first, by addressing this topic in the light of scripture and experience; and then by guiding the group into two spiritual practices that open the possibility of encountering God as personal and communicating. These practices are stillness, and “sacred reading” of Scripture (i.e. lectio divina).” [2]

This workshop is will be facilitated by Andrew Dyck and Don Craw.

If these “fresh and time tested”[3] ways are “spiritual practices that open the possibility of encountering God,” does that mean there is a possibility of encountering something other than God in the stillness?

Endnotes

[1] http://www.mbseminary.ca/cmu-courses
[2] Saturday, September 21 – Grantham MB Church (St. Catharines)
Saturday, October 5 – Grace MB Church (Kitchener)
See:http://www.onmb.org/#/faith-and-life/day-in-the-word
[3] could be translated: new to Anabaptists and old as the desert fathers
___________________________________

RELATED:

The Stillness and Lectio Divina at a Mennonite “Biblical” Seminary?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/stillness-and-lectio-divina-at-a-mennonite-biblical-seminary/

Partnership or Compromise?

As discussed in last year’s MB Herald, it looks like some influential Canadian Mennonites have decided to go ahead and partner together to educate the next generation of church leaders…

WCMS is an inter-Mennonite partnership that facilitates the offering of graduate and professional theological education in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The primary role of WCMS is to link the church constituency with the resources of various Mennonite educational institutions. At this time, students can gain graduate theological education by seeking admission to the MA Theological Studies offered by the Canadian Mennonite University or the Certificate of Christian Ministry offered through Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (MBBS) of Fresno, CA or Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) of Elkhart, Indiana. WCMS can also facilitate academic advising and coaching for those who train for vocational ministry. WCMS seeks to provide continued professional education for pastors and pastoral candidates through pastoral round tables, workshops and other special events.
[www.cmu.ca]

The WCMS centre, located on the Canadian Mennonite University campus in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is supported by the following Mennonite organizations:

Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS)

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (MBBS)

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU)

Steinbach Bible College (SBC)

The Winnipeg Theological Cooperative (affiliated with the Faculty of Theology, Canadian Mennonite University, St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Centre, St. John’s College and William and Catherine Booth College)

-http://www.cmu.ca/programs/seminary.html

By partnering together, does this mean that these Mennonites have forgotten why they are named after Menno Simons? Are they now in agreement with Roman Catholicism, ecumenism, monasticism, and the emerging church with its contemplative mysticism? Does this mean they are also in support of CMU’s recent Refreshing Winds conference with Brian McLaren that is still being highlighting on their website (http://media.cmu.ca/)? Are mergers and money more important than being faithful and true to the gospel of Jesus Christ? What would Menno Simons say if he had a blog today?

I voluntarily renounced all my worldly honor and reputation, my unchristian conduct, masses, infant baptism, and my unprofitable life, and at once willingly submitted to distress and poverty, and the cross of Christ.

MENNO SIMON’S RENUNCIATION OF THE CHURCH OF ROME

To understand why these questions and partnerships should be of concern to all Bible believing Mennonites, see these:

Lucifer Emerging (Updated)
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/lucifer-emerging/

McLaren’s ‘Refreshing Winds’
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-5/

Menno Simons on The Papistic Belief
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/the-papistic-belief/