Pastor’s Blog

Located in the town of Vineland, Ontario, we are a small, friendly,  inter-generational church in the Anabaptist tradition that worships God and together seeks to follow Jesus’ example.   We have a long history—we were the first Mennonite church in Canada.  On this site you can learn about the people and the work of our church, find directions to our facility, and learn about our history.  You are welcome to join us!

Worship Service at 11:00 Sunday mornings (10:30 a.m. 1st Sunday in July through Labour Day)  Sunday School for all ages begins at 10:00, except in summer.  Hope to see you there!

Pot-luck lunch usually on the first Sunday of the month (except in July/Aug)

3557 Rittenhouse Rd, Vineland (see directions page for details)

We look forward to meeting you!

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The Spirituality of Waiting

Children hate waiting.

And this is both the best and the worst time of year for them as they agonizingly wait another 30 days for Christmas Eve to arrive. And let’s be honest, we all hate waiting to a large degree.

We often feel that waiting is lazy. It’s ineffective. It’s unproductive. We should be doing something with our time rather than…waiting.

And yet, Advent is a season of waiting. Starting this Sunday, we take time in the spiritual life of the church to reflect upon how the world waited for a Messiah to arrive in the birth of Jesus, and we simultaneously wait for the return of Jesus one day in the future.

I recently re-read much of Henri Nouwen’s writing on the spirituality of waiting, and he reminds us that we often attempt to busy ourselves rather than waiting. If we are busy, then we are important. If we are busy, then we are relevant. If we are busy, then we have value.

But so much of life forces us to wait. If we took a long and hard look at our lives, we would see that so much of what it means to be human is to wait and see what happens.

We wait to see if we will get that job. We wait to see if someone we love will survive. We wait to see when a new baby will arrive.

Nouwen says that the very nature of Jesus’ passion was waiting. He waited to be arrested. He waited to hear Pilate’s sentence. He waited to be nailed upon a cross. So much of Jesus’ passion was waiting to be acted upon.

And through all of that waiting, he trusts that God’s love will shape his future, not fear.

What would it look like for us to actively wait? To be prayerful and mindful of the present moment that we’re waiting upon? To wait and trust that God will act rather than fearfully busying ourselves and trying to control our lives to every degree?

I think we might just find a bit more peace, and we might just begin to realize how God actively works in the world to love us and shape us through our waiting.

The New Testament tells the story of a people waiting for a Messiah and waiting for hope in the birth of Jesus.

What would it look like if rather than busying ourselves in desperation, we waited just as they did? Just as they were surprised to find God in the form of a tiny baby, we might just find God with us today in new and incredible ways.

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7 Ways to Respond to Nov. 13th

It took only a matter of hours, if not minutes, for the world to know that terror attacks had taken place in Paris this past weekend, and if you’re like me, you have likely been inundated with numerous Facebook updates, tweets, news articles, and interviews regarding this horrible series of events. Often when we are flooded with so much detail, our response can become despair, cynicism, or an equal response of hate for what has occurred.

The attacks in Paris were traumatic; and in many ways, we could respond with anger, violence, despair, or cynicism unless we can discuss and discern a way to respond that follows and embodies Christ and gives us direction as a church.

I am personally thankful that this is not the first time that as the church, we have seen suffering. For centuries, the church has lived with those who suffer and cried with those suffer, and so I would like to suggest 7 ways to respond to this past Friday that I think come from our long tradition of peacemaking and responding to pain and suffering as Jesus does:


  1. Mourn – (Matt. 5: 4) Remember the loss of innocent lives that took place this past Friday. Mourn for their families that survive them. Mourn that the few individuals who committed these terror attacks believed violence (and particularly violence against strangers) was the only answer to their pain. Mourn also the violence that takes place on a regular basis in many parts of the world (ie. Beirut, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, etc.). Mourn the times when we ourselves have been violent.
  2. Create space for people to cry – Allow people to express their pain at seeing the events of violence. We do not heal if we judge people for honestly expressing their pain and anger.
  3. Be patient – (Rom. 12: 12) The instinctual response to trauma is to do something. We think to ourselves, “Don’t just sit there and do nothing!” But we must resist the temptation to do something just for the sake of action. Too often when we respond quickly and out of pain, fear, and anger, we end up perpetuating thoughtless pain, fear, and anger. The Paris attacks took place not even 72 hours before this blog was posted. There is time to discern truth and an appropriate response to events.
  4. Resist fear and hate – (Rom. 12: 9) When we are faced with fear and hate, we believe it must be met with equal fear and hate. Terrorism does not attempt to achieve the practical defeat of an enemy. Its purpose is to sow fear, hate, anger, and violence as a response. When we respond with fear, hate, anger, and violence, we have fulfilled what terrorism hoped to achieve.
  5. Look for love – (Rom. 12: 21) Only good can overcome evil. Hate is a cycle, and sometimes the only way to break a cycle is to give it a different kind of fuel. How can we break the cycle of hate by fuelling it with love? What can we do that refuses to give in to hate and stands for hope amidst the darkness of fear?
  6. Work for peace – (Rom. 12: 17-19) Align with those who suffer. Terror thrives on the perpetuation of violence and hateful acts. When we respond with violence, it is too often used to justify further violence: “See? We told you these people were decadent and violent!” We take away the impetus for terror when we show that we will only respond in acts of peace; especially when we extend those acts of peace to our enemies.
  7. Pray – Prayer gives us the quiet space to actually listen to God, and it reminds us that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces in our world that can influence us to make destructive choices (Eph. 6: 12). We do not live in a universe where God sits back and watches the events of history unfold. He is active in our world and actively partners with us to be His body in the world (I Cor. 12: 27). Pray that God would show us His heart in the midst of this tragedy. Pray that God would give us direction. We also pray for our enemies that we might disarm the logic they use to commit these acts of violence; that they may turn from hate; and that peace would truly be made when they are no longer our enemies.


Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you…. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.” – A Christmas Sermon for Peace, Dec. 24. 1967

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Should We Remember the Sacrifice of Veterans?

I was recently asked following our Peace Sunday service, if we should take time to remember veterans who have given their lives in the pursuit of peace?

I think we should first consider, what does it mean to pursue peace? As a pastor, most of my conversation around this topic revolves around how Christians pursue peace. Many people in the world will have different understandings of what pursuing peace means, and I don’t presume to speak for everyone on their understanding of this topic. As a pastor, it’s a little more in my wheelhouse to consider what a Christian might say about this topic.

If a person has made a decision to become a Christian, or one who follows the way of Christ, how does that person pursue peace in light of the one who said, “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say, love your enemies!” (Matt. 5: 43-44)? How do we pursue peace when the apostle Paul quotes from the book of Proverbs and says, “’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.’ Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Rom. 12: 20-21)?

I usually ask those questions first, not to evade making an answer, but to keep us thinking about what it means to remember the pursuit of peace.

Eventually though, I would tell this person, Yes! Absolutely, we should remember veterans who gave their lives or sacrificed their lives for others. Jesus himself said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15: 13). We should absolutely always honour people who lay down their own life so that another person may live.

I think it’s just a good sign of authentic faith when we honour the sacrifices of veterans who were willing to put themselves in harm’s way before others, and yet still always creatively ask how can we best continue to follow Jesus’ commandment to love “each other in the same way that I have loved you” (John 15: 12).

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A Kingdom That Lives In Love

In my undergraduate days, I had a friend whose body was severely wracked with cerebral palsy. In addition to this condition, several of his limbs had simply not grown or formed properly. In order to get around, my friend required a wheelchair. And here was this individual with a bright and sharp mind who was seemingly trapped by his own body; limited by his own body.

He confessed to me once that his greatest pain was that he felt so alone. He felt incredibly lonely. When I asked him why, he said that he believed that to many people, he was ugly. “People think that I’m ugly, Chris. No one will be with me because I am ugly. No one will touch me because I am ugly.”

In his confession, I heard the deepest yearning of all of us: to know that we are not alone; to know that there is another person who cares for us; to be touched or held by another human being.

I knew the reality of his fear was not unfounded. Humans are a shallow people. In our fear that we may end up alone, we will judge others by their appearance, their wealth, who they know, etc. We judge others so as to show why they should be rejected from companionship. And when we judge others, we also do it in order to show why everyone deserves our companionship instead. And so my friend feared that his physical appearance would separate him from companionship.

But I told my friend, “Did you know that God made you? That He knit you together in your mother’s womb? That He knows you through and through, and that you are His beloved child?” My friend replied, “How do you know?” I replied by embracing him and saying, “That’s how I know.”

In Jesus, God comes down to the world and embraces us with a physical touch. He washes our feet and feeds us when we are hungry. In Jesus, God says that he is preparing a kingdom where people show hospitality to the stranger, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. The best way to proclaim this kingdom is by embracing the lonely.

Some of us will call other people ugly. But when we do so, we are simply hiding our own ugliness; the ugliness that comes from hate and fear. When God looks upon us, he does not say that we are ugly, but that we are loved exactly as we are.

That’s the kingdom that I want to be a part of. Not a kingdom that lives in fear and judges based on difference, but a kingdom that lives in love and has the courage to embrace everyone.

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Mennonite Heritage Sunday

If you look at my last name “Hutton,” you’ll quickly pick up that I was likely not born into the Mennonite Church. I do not have a Russian Mennonite last name such as Harder, Janzen, or Reimer; nor do I have a Swiss Mennonite last name like Eby, Snider, or Erb.

However, when my wife, Michele and I look at the large and diverse range of families that exist throughout the Christian world; time and again, we come back to feeling that our home is with the Mennonites.

When we look at the history of the Radical Reformation (from which comes the Mennonite tradition), we constantly resonate with the themes of authentic expressions of faith, getting back to what Jesus teaches over and above institution and tradition, living simply, and pursuing peace. For us, the Mennonite Church is home. For us, the Mennonite Church is our family.

In many ways, I think our Mennonite ancestors would celebrate people like Michele and I coming to the Mennonite family. We were not born into it. We did not choose this family because it’s what our parents did. (Not that there’s anything wrong with these things of course!) We chose the Mennonite family because of an authentic and informed decision that this was where we wanted to purposefully and completely follow Jesus. We came to this Mennonite family because we believed!

As I reflect on Mennonite Heritage Sunday coming this week, I celebrate the history of Mennonite heritage that paved the way for Michele and I to come to this church family through their personal examples of faithfulness and sacrifice. And I dream of how I can exemplify and live out those same principles of faithfulness and sacrifice so that one day, our children might also see our example, choose for themselves, and believe.

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Lessons from the vineyard

A vineyard is a beautiful place.  Straight, immaculate rows of long slender vines, covered in green leaves, yielding bunches of luscious grapes, which not only become food to eat but also yield many varieties of wine.  Little wonder that the Niagara region has become a bustling tourist area.

A vineyard is also an amazing example of interdependence and interconnection. Berries attached by little tiny stems to longer stems to form clusters, and the clusters clinging to canes and cordons which attach to trunks that send their roots deep into the ground.  Every part connected to another, all parts intertwined with each other.

It’s this elaborate web of interconnection, and interdependence, that allows water and nutrients to flow to the grapes.  And if one piece is cut off–if a connection somewhere in this intricate, intertwined web is broken—those Chardonnays and Gewurtztraminers and Muques will soon wither and die.  The life of this vineyard depends on the parts staying connected.

Jesus could have lived in Vineland, because he knew a lot about vineyards.  He talked about vines and branches, pruning and fruit.  He called himself “the vine,” and said that his followers are “the branches” (John 15).  He stressed the important of “abiding,” or “remaining,” in him, in order to bear fruit.

In our worship service on Sunday, September 13, we will reflect on the lessons for living as Jesus’s people in this world that Jesus drew from the vineyard.

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Practicing hospitality

Hospitality is a time-honored virtue in the Middle East, as in this story.

Two men were crossing the desert when they saw a Bedouin’s tent and asked him for shelter. Even though he did not know them, he welcomed them in the way that the conduct of nomads dictates: a camel was killed and its meat served in a sumptuous dinner. The next day, as the guests were still there, the Bedouin had another camel killed. Astonished, they protested they had not yet finished eating the one killed the day before. “It would be a disgrace to serve old meat to my guests,” was the answer. On the third day, the two strangers woke early and decided to continue on their journey. As the Bedouin was not at home, they gave his wife a hundred dinars, apologizing for not being able to wait, because if they spent any more time there, the sun would become too strong for them to travel. They had traveled for four hours when they heard a voice calling out to them. They looked back and saw the Bedouin following them. As soon as he caught up with them, he threw the money to the ground. “I gave you such a warm welcome! Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves?” In surprise, the strangers said that the camels were surely worth far more than that, but that they did not have much money. “I am not talking about the amount,” was the answer. “The desert welcomes Bedouins wherever they go, and never asks anything in return. If we had to pay, how could we live? Welcoming you to my tent is like paying back a fraction of what life has given us.”  (Paulo Coelho, The Code of Hospitality,

The Bible also puts a high value on hospitality.  Several stories in the Old Testament speak of biblical figures like Abraham hosting strangers, only to turn out that those strangers were angels in disguise.  The New Testament calls on church members to “extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13).

In our worship service on Sunday, Sept.6, we will consider the theme of “hospitality.”  More than beliefs or worship rituals, it was the practice by early Christians of hospitality and love, not only toward church members but also toward outsiders, even enemies, that caught the attention of the cultures in which they lived.   The same is likely true for the church in our culture today.

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