Roots and Wings

Amy Yoder McGloughlin’s reflections as a mother and a pastor include important thoughts on believer’s baptism and parenting. So do the testimonies of the two being baptised and the dog. Enjoy. How do you view baptism and giving your adolescent/adult children the freedom to choose?

Practicing Families

by Amy Yoder McGloughlin, Mennonite Pastor and parent of two teenagers.  

On Sunday I baptized two young people in my congregation–one was thirteen, and one was thirty.  Both talked–from their own developmental place–about the importance of faith and the church in their lives.  The teenager talked about the church as a place where–unlike other parts of his life–he’s not bullied, but loved for who his is.”  He said, “Jesus was bullied, so I think he understands how I feel, but Jesus was also surrounded by people that loved him, and that’s how church feels to me.”

The thirty year old is someone I’ve know for much of his life.  He was unsure about baptism for many years–he’s the kind of person that needed to talk it through, to think it through–he needed to be absolutely sure.  He described baptism as “coming home.”  It’s coming to a faith that…

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Posted in baptism, Congregational life, Family life, Parenting, young adult faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Christian Community on the Margins 1

Recently I joined a neighbourhood group, called Houseblend Ministries, for their Tuesday night potluck and prayers. Anyone is welcome to participate in these Tuesday night events, and so I and my casserole were received warmly. So were the brother and sister who came from a poorer part of town, who shyly peaked out from underneath their dark hoodies. So was the elderly man with cerebral palsy. And the neighbourhood women. And the residents of this old eight bedroom house in the West Broadway, a slowly gentrifying part of urban Winnipeg.
After the meal, which included pleasant light conversation, we moved to the parlor for evening prayers. In the context of a short but solid worship liturgy, everyone in the group was invited to share a high and a low experience of their week.
That’s what Houseblend  has been doing in Winnipeg since 2007.  It seems simple enough, but it is such a blessing. One newcomer expressed it this way. ” It was very natural and it just seemed like a safe place where, if you were having a bad day, you could share it with the group.”   And a resident shared this quote in their last newsletter, “I don’t think I will ever be able to properly express how thankful I am to live in this house. It’s like a second chance at life.”
Here’s how this group describes itself: We are……a group of people who, because we are inspired by Jesus’ love of people who are poor and by Paul’s words to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:8), have committed to sharing our lives with each other and with our neighbours in West Broadway, Winnipeg. As an intentional community we seek to develop rhythms of life that make loving God, loving each other, and loving our neighbours sustainable. These rhythms are based on the life of Jesus.
Thank you, Houseblend, for living this rhythm of Jesus in my neighbourhood. Read more about them at
Posted in community, Congregational life, Cross cultural faith community, Differently abled, faith practices, Healthy Habits, Hope, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Care About The Crumbs

banned Inter

I’ve never thought about crumbs at Communion before, and don’t come from a sacramental tradition, but I love the way Laura Kelly Fanucci reflects on them. I’ve added a photo of a formerly controversial South African poster which inspired me in a friend’s home recently, and which conveys some of Laura’s sentiments. (My apologies for the glare and reflections on the photo)

We Care About The Crumbs.

Posted in Communion, community, Congregational life, Differently abled, faith practices, Family life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Glories of Living on the Edge

finally spring


My FB friends have been posting pictures of spring’s glories for months. I’ve been able to experience some spring in other places as I traveled with my work.  But now it is finally coming to my home! Is it worth the wait? Definitely.

I greet each perennial flower as its green emerges from the long frozen ground, “Welcome back, my friend.” Neighbours emerge onto yards and embrace the clean-up with smiles and gusto. I suspect our spring joy is deeper because of our long wait. That’s a glory of living on the northern edge of a growing zone.

Tonight I’ll lead a Bible study on another kind of edge and growing zone. This edge is in a Women’s Correctional Centre. I’ve been doing this since last September and its unlikely glory is producing a growing zone in my own faith.  Why?

  • As I read the Scripture passages, and the commentaries on them, I read with a different mindset.  I look for words that will connect with their harsh realities  and…I find good news for all of us.
  • As the participants pour in, we laugh about how other churches wish for such participation.
  • As we sing  our a capella gospel songs, we’ll often be off key, but this communal practice of worship will provide comfort, joy, and a build a sisterly bond.
  • As we read through the texts, raw and honest questions will emerge. Sometimes, I’ll get to sense Scripture at work within their lives. Sometimes I’ll be trusted with vignettes and moving testimonies out of their hard lives.
  • As I respond to their questions, I fill with gratitude for a life that has equipped me with Bible knowledge that I can share, knowledge which some of them will eagerly grab hold of as handles for this mysterious but life affirming text.
  • As we share prayer requests, I am moved by their trust in the power of prayer to provide relief.
  • I will be humbled and filled with joy, as I sense our Saviour’s love and good news flowing between us.

There’s a glory to this edge too, especially for those of us who come in as volunteers, and then drive home happily after the evening’s study. But its glory also haunts me, for I know that injustice plays a great role in their incarceration and my freedom. I hope and pray that our shared worship can be like a burst of spring in the dreariness of their lives, knowing that our God can make all things new.


Posted in Bible studies, community, faith practices, Hope, Prayer, prison, spring, Women's concerns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Earth Day Challenges

washline cropped

I had an absolutely lovely Saturday. It was warm and sunny in southern Manitoba. My husband and I turned over our sorry looking boulevard, lovingly added compost and grass seed in hopes of greening up our section of street frontage.  We purchased an umbrella style clothes line, and I hung out wash again, after many years of using my dryer and an indoor clothes line. It was spring and we were happy.

But then the weather turned nasty. Winter jackets and tightly drawn hoods are once more helping us keep out the biting north wind. Snow made the roads too icy for secure cycling this morning. And we wonder. Is this the kind of climate change our society’s excessive carbon emissions are bequeathing on the next generation? Lord, have mercy.

I love my work of gathering, developing and sharing faith forming resources for all ages. Whenever I hear appreciation for these resources from a family or congregation I go all soft inside. I’m convinced that the work I do helps nurture faith and Anabaptist denominational identity and vitality.

But there’s stormy weather in this part of my life as well. We’re trying hard to learn unity which is rooted in Christ rather than in shared opinions. There’s a decline in both denominational membership and donor dollars. We keep trying to do more with less, and stretch marks are threatening.

I yearn for an inhabitable Earth for the next generation. I yearn for a sustainable denomination for the next generation. I yearn for a church that will continue to provide faith forming resources for its homes and congregations.

So this year, I’m setting up a unique challenge: Good for the Earth, Good for Faith. As well as hanging laundry outside, gardening and composting, I’m committed to cycling to work till the snow flies again (hoping that’s 6 months from now). I will donate the fuel saved to resource development.

I’m inviting others, like you, to sponsor my cycling efforts with donations to this project. Please consider the faith practice of making a pledge and find your own ways of protecting our earth.  To do so, just follow the link, above.


biking Elsie


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Spirituality with Clothes On?

A new book by this title ends with this question, “How will you put together the clothing of your life with the wardrobe of Christ?”

It’s a great question to ponder, even if you haven’t read about the ways the language of faith you grew up with, your gender, personality, life stage, family systems, and your broader cultural historical contexts impact the faith you live by.

That’s the kind of stuff that Gareth Brandt thinks about when he writes about the clothing of our lives. Then he adds  the impacts of changing culture, of living in a consumerist economy and of facing our own woundedness, thereby making a strong case for an experience clothed spirituality.

While I agree with the case he makes, it does provide one with a full wardrobe of clothing to consider! It’s a wardrobe that can feel heavy, especially if one reads right through the book  and tries out the whole wardrobe at once. It would be better to try it on and think about this wardrobe in chunks with others.

And yet, we do live our lives under the influences of all these factors!  They are the stuff that makes us into the diverse, fascinating, and frustrating creatures we are. The cover artist illustrated this multiplicity by using a patchwork quilt. While created from many different patches, each quilt is unique and has it’s own beauty and practicality.  That’s a helpful image. What kind of quilt has grown up around your soul?  Hmm.

From this focus on the self, Gareth culminates his wise study book with a focus on the compassionate and loving clothing of Christ, as described in Colossians 3: 12-17. No matter what kind of quilt we are wrapped up in, we can all grow into greater compassion, humility, patience, forgiveness, love, and peace. These values create a uniting overcoat which has the potential to transform us into signs of God’s reign on earth; signs into which we can all grow with all our individuality.

I recommend this book for small groups who are willing to explore both their spirituality and their experiential wardrobes. But, be warned. You might feel a little naked as you explore this clothing.

Posted in Book Reviews, Clothing, community, Differently abled spirituality, Pastoral Psychology, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

He is risen, indeed


The children in this group retelling of the resurrection are truly inspiring. Enjoy!

Posted in Child Faith, Church season, Easter, Intergenerational worship, Scripture telling | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment