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Volume 21 Issue 20

Cover Date: October 23, 2017
Volume 21, Number 20 (PDF available in 27 days)

In praise of reading

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Oct 18, 2017

A formative experience for my childhood faith was the reading of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. Set in the fictional land of Narnia, the seven books tell stories of children from our world who are transported to a land of mythical creatures and cosmic struggles.

The main characters deal with temptations and self-doubts but they are called to live courageously in difficult times. They are encouraged to grow into better versions of themselves. Through it all is Aslan, the noble lion who calls, guides, teaches and supports them in their adventures.

A hoof and heart both need mending

Photo by Doug Klassen

God at Work in the Church Feature | By Doug Klassen | Oct 18, 2017

He was a welcome sight when his truck and trailer pulled into the yard. Even before the truck stopped moving, he jumped out the passenger side and started walking toward me.

“Doctor Klassen?” he said as he held a cigarette at the side of his mouth. He reached out his tattoo-laden arm and introduced himself: “Morgan Girletz. Good to meet ya. Let’s see yer horse!”

Readers write: October 23, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Oct 18, 2017 | 3 comments

‘Shared land’ event deserved front-page coverage
Re: “Shared land’ event photo, Aug. 28, back cover.
I was rather set back by the minimal attention you gave to an event at Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre in Herschel, Sask. This is of front-page importance, not a back-page afterthought.

Maple View insert: Canadian Mennonite responds

Viewpoints | By Tobi Thiessen | Oct 18, 2017 | 31 comments

The Sept. 25 print issue of Canadian Mennonite contained an insert from Maple View Mennonite Church entitled “Honour God with Your Bodies.” Some readers have asked about the rationale for its inclusion, many expressing pain, anger and confusion about its contents, and the fear that it will do further harm to LGBTQ Mennonites who have suffered rejection, shaming and exclusion from the body of faith, and to the church as a whole.

We have been deeply impacted by the stories we have heard. We regret the harm this insert has caused.


Deborah Froese
Viewpoints | By Deborah Froese | Oct 18, 2017 | 1 comment

For Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers and national office staff, preparations for restructuring have created challenges over the past few years. Reality hit home as beloved colleagues and friends were released from their jobs and others left voluntarily for new employment, leaving those who remained with a sense of loss and additional responsibilities.

We’ve lived with and juggled the uncertainty of impending change for a long time: What does it mean for the church and for those we serve? What comes next?

A hermeneutic of suspicion

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Oct 18, 2017 | 14 comments

In a previous Family Ties column on sexual ethics (June 19, 2017), I wondered, “Where does the Bible help us [in this regard]? And where is it limited?” As I wrote, I imagined some readers might share my questions, while others would be puzzled, even disturbed, by them. Like many of you, I imbibed Paul’s teaching to Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

The ‘yes’ perspective

Sherri Grosz
Viewpoints | By Sherri Grosz | Oct 18, 2017

When I was a very young girl, I realized that the coloured papers in my mother’s purse could get you things. That was my intro­duction to money. Growing up, I remained fascinated by the intense influence money has on human behaviour. The Bible has a lot to teach about our relationship with money, but adopting a biblical approach to wealth often requires us to reject the things our society tells us we should cling to. It’s not easy.

You’re getting worked up over nothing

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Oct 18, 2017

Jesus and his disciples were invited to Martha’s house for dinner.

Martha was toiling away in the kitchen by herself while everyone else, including her sister Mary, was in the living room huddled around a fascinating rabbi named Jesus, a man some were calling the Son of God. Stressed out and frustrated, Martha finally marched into the living room and interrupted the conversation.

“Rabbi, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work in the kitchen by myself? Tell her to help me!” she blurted out.


Photo courtesy of Abe E. Ens

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Oct 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Cooperatives allow community members to pool their economic resources and were quickly adopted in many Mennonite communities as a continuation of the Mennonite mutual-aid tradition. During the economic and agricultural Depression of the 1930s, Mennonite farmers sought new sources of income.  In the Altona and Winkler areas of Manitoba, the average number of milk cows went from three in 1931 to 10 in 1941; the extra supply drove down milk prices. Farmers from the Reinland village area started the Reinland Co-op Dairy Society in 1936 as a way of diversifying farm income.

Pioneer Park celebrates 175 years of change

Elgin Shantz gets the first piece of cake at Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship’s 175th-anniversary celebration. Watching him are Carolyn Baechler and Lisa Yantzi. (Photo by Erin Yantzi).

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

When Ed Snider left Kitchener to farm in the Hanover-Chesley area of southwestern Ontario, Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship, then known as the Weber Mennonite Church, was nearly five kilometres from the city limits.

On Oct. 1, 2017, at Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship’s 175th-anniversary celebration, he could see the houses of the Pioneer Park subdivision through the church windows, now fully inside the city boundary.

‘We need legislated protection’

Sylvia McAdam listens as Leah Gazan answers an audience member’s question about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Oct 18, 2017

“My people don’t believe in coincidence,” Sylvia McAdam told her audience, “so you’re meant to be here today.” McAdam was speaking at a teach-in at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.

Billed as Let’s Walk the Talk Saskatoon, the Oct. 6, 2017, event was co-sponsored by Mennonite Church Canada, MC Saskatchewan and the college. It featured the teachings of Leah Gazan, an educator at the University of Winnipeg and a member of the Wood Mountain Lakota Nation; and McAdam, co-founder of the Idle No More movement and a member of the Big River Cree Nation.

Bringing people and food together

Gord Enns leads a bicycle tour of five farms in the Osler, Sask., area that sell meat, vegetables, fruit and baked goods directly to consumers. (Photo courtesy of Gord Enns)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Oct 18, 2017

On a sunny Saturday in early September, 13 cyclists set out to explore the Local Food Trail near Osler, Sask. Gord Enns, who is executive director of the Saskatoon Food Council and who lives on a farm in the Osler area, organized the tour in conjunction with the town of Osler and the rural municipality of Corman Park.

The four-hour trek took cyclists to five farms: Farmyard Market, Petter Farms, Pine View Farms, Anna’s Orchard and Floating Gardens. They ended their excursion at Enns’s home, where they savoured a meal made from food purchased at each of the farms.

Mennonites walk for reconciliation

B.C. Mennonites gather with a Menno Folk banner to march in the Walk for Truth and Reconciliation in Vancouver Sept. 24. (Photo courtesy of Garry Janzen)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Oct 18, 2017

The 2017 Walk for Reconciliation recognizing First Nations peoples drew an estimated 50,000 people in Vancouver on Sept. 24. Some two-dozen Mennonites from several Lower Mainland congregations walked together under a “Mennonite Folks” sign organized by Garry Janzen, Mennonite Church B.C.’s executive minster.

As an encouragement to join the walk, at least one MC B.C. congregation cancelled regular morning services.

Remembering the ‘forgotten people’

Ghada Ageel, a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and still has many friends and family trapped there. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Oct 18, 2017

As a teenager, Ghada Ageel had heated debates with her grandmother at their home in the Khan Younis refugee camp in South Gaza.

“I asked my grandmother many questions: Why didn’t you stay in Beit Daras and die there? Why do I have to be a refugee and live this misery?” Her grandmother was forced to flee in 1948, when Israel occupied and destroyed her village.

‘Participation, not performance’

Brandon Leis, the new music director for Menno Singers, in his studio in the Music Building at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

Like most musicians and artists, Brandon Leis uses his gifts in many places and in many ways to make a living.

Most recently, he was appointed as the new music director of the Menno Singers, a Waterloo Region choir founded in 1955 by Abner Martin. Besides that, since 2003 he has been the music director at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener and a voice instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University. He also has a private studio of students, consults with congregations about “music problems,” and is an avid promotor of “community arts,” particularly music.

‘Where do we go from here?’

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / Nobody knows my sorrow / Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / Nobody knows but Jesus

By entitling his book with the words of the African-American spiritual, one known by whites through popularization in modern entertainment, Drew Hart puts his thesis front and centre.

How to avoid ‘a tense faith’

Focus On Books & Resources | By Deborah Froese | Oct 18, 2017

Humans have a long history of elevating knowledge over trust. Consider Adam and Eve. They had God’s full attention and companionship—and Eden—but they couldn’t resist the off-limits “tree of knowledge.” What did that get them? Misery.

That’s just one of the insights offered by Peter Enns, professor of Bible at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pa., in his new book, The Sin of Certainty. He distinguishes between placing faith in God and placing faith in “correct” beliefs or intellectual knowledge, and says that God desires our trust more than our correct beliefs.

2017 Fall List of Books & Resources

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Oct 18, 2017

Theology, Spirituality
Approaching the Divine: Signs and Symbols of the Christian Faith. Margaret Loewen Reimer. CMU Press, 2017, 96 pages.
This book explores the history and meaning of various Christian holidays, and the symbols and rituals connected with them. Many symbols have ancient roots, but Reimer also includes any Mennonite connections. She also considers the role of art and imagination in expressions of faith.

Writing that 'really, really works'

Winnipeg teacher Justin Rempel is publishing his first book next year. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Justin Rempel has been making up stories ever since he learned to write. The animals on his parents’ hobby farm near Gretna, Man., and the stories he heard while attending Sunday school at Blumenort Mennonite Church in Rosetown, Man., were his initial inspiration.

“Very naturally, the first stories that came to me at 6 were an amalgamation of those things,” he says. “All the biblical figures would be swapped out for pigs and sheep and all the things we had on the farm.”

From Mexican Quaker to Canadian Mennonite

Andrea De Avila enjoys her role as associate pastor at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Ask Andrea De Avila when she first wanted to become a pastor and her answer is simple: “I didn’t.”

While studying at Hesston College in Kansas, and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va., De Avila became involved with Mennonite Church U.S.A. As part of her biblical studies at EMU, she participated in the Ministry Inquiry Program, which allows young adults to explore pastoral ministry. At the same time, she enjoyed attending MC U.S.A. conventions, and had a hand in organizing the 2013 gathering in Phoenix, Ariz.