Sep 17, 2010

Opportunites for Giving (2011)

At the annual meeting of Mennonite Women Canada, held this past July in Calgary, a new international project was chosen as one of our 'opportunities for giving'. The Samuelito Day Care Centre in Santa Cruz, Bolivia opened its doors in 2006 to provide a much needed service and also to reach out to the families in one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods. The director is Juneth Vargas, who is an energetic mother of two and a committed Christian dedicated to her work. She oversees a staff of 8 who care for 74 children and give instruction in the areas of health, nutrition, education and faith.

Please click on 'Opportunities for Giving' above to read more about this project. Updates about this project will be posted as they become available.

Sep 16, 2010

Faith and Hope in the Midst of Changing Times by Dan Epp-Tiessen, Mennonite Church Canada, 2010.

Chapters/Themes of this five-week Season of Prayer package (for personal reading, small group study, prayer meetings, worship):

In the Face of Change: If we as Christians are rooted in our story, remain God-centered, sort out our loyalties, and live as a covenant people, then we can confidently face changing times.

Bless the LORD, O My Soul: One of the most important things we as a church do in any time and place is to offer our joyous and heartfelt praise to God.

Nurturing a Spirit of Resistance: As God’s people, we owe our primary allegiance to God. Therefore, in changing times we are called to nurture a discerning spirit of resistance to the world.

Living between Reality and Hope: Our calling is to live between acceptance of some of the painful realities of life, and the hope we have that with God new things are possible.

Nothing Can Separate Us . . . : No matter what crises we face either individually or collectively, the Bible assures us that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Download this title free

from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

Questions or suggestions?
Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Sep 15, 2010


"Early morning" photo taken by Lois Siemens near Superb, Saskatchewan.

Sep 11, 2010

Schools & Peace Education

I recently wrote the following in response to a friend's question "What is it about the school that helps promote peace education efforts in your context?" I've been working with peace education in South Korea and now in Harrisonburg, Virginia while I attend Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). My response reflects my connections of my study and experience. Statistics show that most of the public school teachers in North America are women. What if women would start to pull some of these ideas into their work? How would that influence the educational systems in which children are shaped?

The peace education contexts that I’ve experience include alternative schools in Korea, a peacebuilding education organization, the Intensive English Program (IEP) at Eastern Mennonite University, public schools in a suburb of Seoul, and an English language institute in downtown Seoul. They are all very different schools, and very different contexts, however, they have several points in common.

One point of commonality is that they all have staff and faculty committed to the value of peacebuilding. Whether the commitment is for faith reasons or because people know clearly the cost of “not-peace,” each person in the organization has a personal interest and awareness of peace as a value and way of life.

Second, in all contexts teachers have a sense of ownership and belonging. There is both freedom to develop courses and classes from their own ideas, and also accountability to other educators in community. There is both flexibility and support for the educators.

Third, each of these contexts is a “learning community” in that the communities are willing, able, and eager to change and grow, and to learn more about education and peacebuilding. None of them has a sense of “we’ve arrived” or “we have the answer.” Instead they all continuously seek to provide better education and to be more peaceful.

Also, “Peace” is not just content in each of these contexts. Along with personal commitment, there is communal commitment to practicing what is taught – finding creative ways to deal with conflict that resolves issues and nurtures relationships, transforming conflict into opportunity. Perhaps there is a lower level of fear of conflict in these organizations? That may or may not be true, but something in the context suggests that these communities face conflict intentionally, knowing that it will provide opportunities for personal and communal learning.

A final point in common is abundant sharing that goes on among educators. In all cases there is either co-teaching, or at least a lot of honest dialogue about ideas in the classroom. Teachers are definitely NOT isolated.

The question that automatically arises for me, then, is how to get to this point? IEP and the public schools outside Seoul are two from this list that are transformed schools rather than new schools. It seems easier to start something new with a group of committed people, but it’s not impossible to change an existing educational organization. At IEP several recent changes from an organizational perspective, including a change in leadership, may have had something to do with it. In the suburb public schools there was an initiating point of change – a “window of opportunity” – plus a supporting organization and a small group of committed parents and teachers.

For peace education to work in schools, I think systemic change is needed, and this doesn’t happen all at once. It’s cultural, structural, and personal transformation. This is definitely not linear, but complex and multi-faceted. It takes ongoing commitment, vision, and “trial-and-error.”