Rockway News

Kairos Blanket Exercise

Posted on: February 12th, 2018 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments
On our retreat Sunday, February 11, we took part in the Kairos Blanket Exercise, in which we “participated” in the experiences of Indigenous peoples over the five centuries of colonization following the arrival of European explorers and settlers in North America. Here, at the beginning of the exercise, everyone is standing on a set of contiguous blankets.

On our retreat Sunday, February 11, we took part in the Kairos Blanket Exercise, in which we “participated” in the experiences of Indigenous peoples over the five centuries of colonization following the arrival of European explorers and settlers in North America. Here, at the beginning of the exercise, everyone is standing on a set of contiguous blankets.

The Blanket Exercise is a teaching tool for sharing the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. We were led through the exercise on our retreat Sunday morning by Kandace Boos, Indigenous Neighbours Program Animator with MCC Ontario. Assisting her was Kaitlyn LaCroix, a Métis and a student in the Master of Social Work program at Wilfrid Laurier University.

First, all the congregants stood on several blankets in the middle of the sanctuary (see picture, page 1). They represented the Indigenous people who were occupying the land when the European settlers arrived. Kandace and Kaitlyn read from a script, portraying the history of the treatment of Indigenous peoples by white settlers and their governments. Occasionally, some of our members read from scrolls that had been handed out previously — government edicts, and comments by Indigenous leaders and others.

Slowly, the people standing were depleted in number. Some, who died from disease, went to sit on the chairs surrounding the sanctuary. Those in Newfoundland, who were wiped out by settlers and disease, were also sent to the chairs. Blankets began to be separated into reserves, with restrictions on interactions across the borders. A group of children was separated onto one blanket; these went to residential schools. And so it continued to the present day.

Well into the exercise, as Kandace (centre) reads from the script, many Indigenous people have died from disease (they are seated), and the rest have been segregated into reserves. At the top, two children represent those in residential schools.

Well into the exercise, as Kandace (centre) reads from the script, many Indigenous people have died from disease (they are seated), and the rest have been segregated into reserves. At the top, two children represent those in residential schools.

After about 40 minutes, we sat in one large circle and reflected on the exercise for an hour or so. The microphone was passed around and about 20 people spoke of their feelings during the exercise and of past experiences that came to mind. B.E. recalled hearing about arrowheads found on her family farm. E.M. was reminded of a favourite teacher who she learned only later in life, was Indigenous. One of the youngsters noted the feeling of isolation in the “residential school”. Several noted their feelings of helplessness and lethargy as the exercise proceeded.

The Blanket Exercise has been used thousands of times over the past 20 years across Canada: with community, youth, and faith groups; in schools; as training for RCMP cadets; and more. It was used at seven provincial and territorial legislatures as well as on Parliament Hill from May 28 to June 5, 2016. That “Mass Blanket Exercise” marked the first anniversary of the release of the “94 Calls to Action” by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on June 2, 2015. The “94 Calls to Action” is available as a pdf document.

By: Lewis Brubacher

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On the move: Packing With Purpose

Posted on: April 15th, 2016 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

Rockway’s Winter Retreat – February 6-7, 2016

Rockway Church’s pending move to the former Olivet United Church site on Onward Avenue, was the theme of this year’s church retreat held on February 6 and 7 at the Zion site. An intergenerational service on Sunday was preceded by fun and games on Saturday afternoon and evening. The activities included knotting a comforter, shooting crokinole, playing life-size Dutch Blitz (in the gym), running the annual ping pong tournament, and singing camp songs — and, of course, eating together.

Ron Harder shows great formThe ping pong tournament is the most competitive event, and always draws a crowd. This year a first-time entrant, Ron Harder, made his mark. Ron defeated perennial finalist Marcus Shantz in the quarter finals, only to lose to Scott Brubaker-Zehr in the semi-finals. In the other semi-final match, Nathan Shantz gave the ultimate champ, Matt Snider, a run for his money in a closely contested match that ended 21-18. Matt then defeated Scott in a best of three final, 2 games to 1. In the consolation elimination, Lois Brubacher took the final against Ann Weber Becker. A good spirit of “sportspersonship” prevailed throughout.

The activities were interrupted for a pot-luck supper around 5:30 pm. After supper, the ping pong tournament concluded, and a sing-along led by Lisa Shantz, Tim Plett and Bob Janzen wrapped up the evening. A big THANK YOU to Andrea Charette for organizing ALL the Saturday activities and potluck.

On Sunday, Ann Weber Becker led a highly interactive, intergenerational service on the theme for the day: “On the Move: Packing with a Purpose”. The theme was scripturally underpinned by the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan as recorded in the book of Numbers. Ann’s husband Byron, built a lovely wooden box with handles to represent the Ark of the Covenant, which served to house important items that we wish to take to our new “promised land” on Onward Ave.

Finance group prepares treasure for the ArkIn the first hour people self-selected into groups under the following themes — Art (Linda Janzen); Drama (Scott Brubaker-Zehr); Music (Bob Janzen); Treasure (Byron Weber Becker); Stories (Shanna Braden); Food (Marg Butt); and Dance (Ann Weber Becker).

Each group met separately to prepare something that they could contribute to the Ark that would be a good memento to take with us to the new church location. Groups then returned for the worship service where each group had a chance to present its creation and place it in the Ark. The presentations were interspersed with songs and prayers. The dance group led a march around the sanctuary, then proceeded to the chapel where the service ended with the benediction. A big THANK YOU to Ann, and also Shanna Braden and Scott Brubaker-Zehr for organizing such a creative service, and to Byron for building the colourful Ark.

By Brian Hunsberger

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Tabernacle Available to View

Posted on: January 22nd, 2016 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

Our Rockway winter Bible series this year focused on the book of Numbers, which in Hebrew is called Bemidbar, which means,“In the Wilderness.” During their 40 year sojourn in the desert, the Israelites were instructed to build a portable sanctuary called the tent of meeting or tabernacle. Lewis Brubacher discovered an old model of the tabernacle created by S.F. Coffman and this students in the early 1900s for use in the Ontario Bible School. Lewis graciously re-assembled this historic model and it is now on display in the Grebel archives workroom. You are welcome to view it there. (Directions to Conrad Grebel) Just ask the librarian for access to the archive workroom.

The Tabernacle with the first of four tent coverings over the inner Tabernacle (Holy of Holies and the Holy Place) The model was built using a scale of 1:36.
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In Front of All This Beauty

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

bookcover-InFronofallthisBeauty-scan-336Pastor Scott Brubaker-Zehr has published a new booklet entitled In Front of All This Beauty. It is a summary of his Doctor of Ministry thesis on the topic of men’s spirituality.  His research is based on interviews with men on their “experience of God.”  It is an interesting and accessible read. Copies are available at church or from Scott for $5. The author welcomes feedback and conversation. Please contact Scott at or call 519-578-4900.

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission Walk

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

Helen E at TRC walk-800On May 31, Helen Epp, with daughters Esther Epp-Tiessen and Marlene Epp, joined some 7,000 others in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission walk in Ottawa. Helen writes: “The five-kilometre walk started in Gatineau, Quebec, and continued past Parliament Hill to City Hall. MCC Ottawa Office had made placards carrying the MCC logo, which some of us carried along the route. It was really invigorating and fun, with some people singing and indigenous people singing and drum-ming.” Mennonite Church Canada and various MCC personnel from the provinces were represented in the walk. Also joining the walk was a large contingent from KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives) — MCC is one of the 11 member organizations and churches that make up KAIROS.

For more information, visit Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa  or Kairos Canada

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Intergenerational Retreat “Builds the Church”

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

floor hockeyThe annual Rockway Church retreat took place on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, February 7 and morning of Sunday, February 8. It was held again at the church, recognizing this would be the last year we will be able to hold it in the Zion building.

The theme was “Building the Church”, playing on the fact that we will be in our new building at Olivet by this time next year. The organizing committee was capably led by Maria Boehm.

Saturday afternoon was a time for intergenerational play and eating junk food. Play took many forms. Some skated and tobogganed outdoors. Others baked, knotted a comforter, did jigsaw puzzles, or played crokinole, ping-pong and floor hockey.

The ping-pong tournament organized by Lois Brubacher was a big hit. Pastor Scott was the eventual winner, defeating Marcus Shantz in the final. He was aided by the fact that the usual winner, Matt Snider, was unable to attend. The star of the event, however, turned out to be Marty Shantz. Marty and his brothers got a ping-pong table for Christmas after being promised by their father that they were getting a “game system”. They have clearly been practising. Although Marty did not have a lot of clearance above the table his accurate ball striking took him to victories over Lew Brubacher and Lucas Sauer, before losing to Scott. Even in his match against Scott, Marty held his own, losing by only four points. His brother Nate redeemed the family honour by winning the consolation round.

Someone recalled that the ping-pong table was donated by Blaine and Esther Millar several years ago. Even though it is a bit warped, it should make the trip to Olivet for sentimental reasons. Blaine would be pleased to know it is still “in play”.

The floor hockey game after the great potluck supper was played before a “standing room only” crowd. Kids played the adults in an epic match. Cam Dingman, Tim Shantz and Isaac Weber assembled a formidable lineup of kids. Cam demonstrated great coaching capability as he mixed and matched his lineup like a pro. The adults eventually prevailed, but not by much.

By the end of the game everyone was tired and ready to head home, and so the previously scheduled indoor “campfire” sing-a-long was cancelled.

On Sunday morning a creative event called “Building a Worship Service” was organized by Ann Weber Becker. Participants assembled at tables of eight or fewer to take part in a number of fun but thought-provoking activities. Pastor Scott was presented with a couple of random scripture verses and given only a few minutes to ad lib a sermon based on them. He did a great job of including both humour and thoughtfulness, thus demonstrating that ping-pong is not the only thing he’s good at!

Thanks to Maria and her committee (Brian Hunsberger, Byron Weber Becker, Tim Shantz and Isaac Weber), as well as Andrea Charette, Marg Butt and all the activity leaders, and Ann Weber Becker, Shanna Braden and Scott Brubaker-Zehr and the Worship Committee for all the effort they put into planning a great weekend. The church may not have been completely built, but a good foundation was laid.   

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Paddling-the-Grand for Silver Lake Mennonite Camp

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014 by Rockway Mennonite Church No Comments

Paddle-the-Grand took place on Saturday, May 10. Although the weather was fair, it turned out to be the most challenging paddle yet! A strong headwind greeted us as we launched into the river. Some canoes were actually pushed upstream by the gusts! Once we found more sheltered areas it was much easier to navigate the river. Many canoes took one hour longer than usual to reach the destination at Kiwanis Park!

Despite difficult paddling, we were successful in raising over $34,000 for Silver Lake! Thank you to all of the generous individuals from the Rockway congregation who paddled and/or donated to this fun family event. This year we had 28 participants, in nine canoes, from Rockway Church. We couldn’t do it without you!

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