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Readers write: December 11, 2017 issue

More responses to Maple View’s paid supplement on sexuality
Re: "Honour God with Your Bodies” insert, Sept. 25.

As an advocate for respect, diversity and equality, I am deeply disturbed that you would publish this. I hope you are aware that this looks like you support the view that sexual orientation is a choice, and that people who are LGBTQ are broken, sinners and damaged.

Moving forward

“You can’t really talk about mission without talking about the End.”

This was a conclusion that a colleague and I came to after reflecting on Bible verses that hold these two images together. From expansive, cosmic hymns (Colossians 1:15-20 and Ephesians 1:3-14), the joyful anticipation of creation’s new birth (Romans 8:18-25), and the foretelling of unfettered communion with our Creator and the healing of all nations (Revelation 22:2), Scripture celebrates and eagerly anticipates God’s mission to restore and reconcile all things.

Abraham Dick

Photo by Sarah Dyck, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

When Abraham Dick broke his back in 1938, the family struggled to keep up with the work on their farm near St. Agatha, Ont. Then one day in early November, they were surprised to hear the roar of tractors. Many neighbours had shown up unannounced to do the fall plowing. This picture of the event was cherished by the family for many years, and passed down to Abraham and Agatha Dick’s daughter, Sarah Dyck, who donated it to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario in 2017. Does your family also treasure stories of unexpected kindness?

Readers write: November 20, 2017 issue

More responses to Maple View’s paid supplement on sexuality

Re:Honour God with Your Bodies” insert, Sept. 25.

I find myself in the awkward position of defending my theological adversaries. I think the publication of the Maple View statement was appropriate. The authors of the statement have communicated their sincere concern to sister congregations in MC Canada through a rigorous and theologically articulate document. This represents an invitation to actual debate.

Hermeneutic of hope

Melissa Miller

Last weekend, I attended a wedding. The bride and groom asked their guests to register by highlighting their favourite verse in a Bible that they will carry into their new, shared life. A few days later, I sat beside my mother’s hospital bed and read to her from Psalm 121. Her long life has been lived in the shadow of mountains, and her faith has been shaped by the God who is more steadfast and enduring than mountains. At the wedding and the hospital, I marvelled at the power of Scripture to inspire, strengthen and guide. I give thanks for the Bible.

Are you grateful today?

Marlow Gingerich

Although it is only November, my community is starting to put up festive decorations and the blank spaces on my calendar are filling up quickly. A list of gifts for family and friends will soon land me in checkout lines where I will almost certainly be asked perfunctorily, “How are you today?” Most customers will respond innocuously and some will be too preoccupied to respond at all. However, I was recently challenged during a sermon by my local pastor, to reframe these interactions with a novel response: “I’m grateful.”

A memorable remembrance

Troy Watson

It took me a while to find my poppy and peace button this year. I couldn’t remember where I’d stored them last November. “I guess I don’t have very good ‘remembrance,’ ” I joked to myself.

“Remembrance” is an unusual word. There are only two occasions I hear it used. The first involves two minutes of silence on Nov. 11. The second is during communion (also called the Lord’s Supper or eucharist). When you think about it, these two events have more in common than the utilization of the word “remembrance”:

Moose Lake Dock

Mennonite Heritage Archives photo courtesy of Rudy Regehr

Pondering on the dock at Camp Moose Lake. After years of soul searching, Mennonite Church Manitoba has sold its Camp Moose Lake property located in the southeastern corner of the province. Since 1957, the camp has been an integral part of the regional (formerly area) church, congregations, young people and children. For decades, the camp enjoyed vigorous support from many rural congregations. This special place that has nurtured thousands of campers will be sorely missed.

Readers write: Nov. 6, 2017 issue

Manitoba church celebrates pastoral couple’s retirement
Carman Mennonite Church celebrated a retirement party on Aug. 27, in honour of Bob and Martha Pauls, who had served our church for 17 years.

The morning service was a more private event, during which we were encouraged to let our tears flow, and we did. The afternoon was more open, and many visitors attended from other churches, especially from Bob’s former congregation, Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Relationships, screen free

Makai Barkman smiles for the camera on his first day of Kindergarten in Metro Manila, the Philippines. (Photo by Christina Bartel Barkman)

Last week, Makai started Kindergarten at the same school in Metro Manilla as his older brother, Cody, who is now in his second year. Although we are very happy with the school—and Cody loves it—a complaint arose for me within Makai’s first three days, after his teacher played a television show during the 30-minute recess as students ate their snacks.

A country boy in the ‘new city of God’

Ryan Jantzi

I wasn’t too sure about this idea of moving into a city. It didn’t seem much like the utopia I dreamed of.

I’m a country kid. I grew up on a farm, where we had room to roam. Baseball games and kick-the-can could be played in our yard. Gorgeous sunsets could be seen regularly from our dining room table. While I did enjoy my three-year foray into the city, I was quite pleased to return to rural life. I prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Tsar Nicholas II

Photo courtesy of Sarah Dyck, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Tsar Nicholas II, seated on a chair at centre of this photograph, is surrounded by patients, Red Cross workers and other staff at a hospital for wounded men in Ekaterinoslav, South Russia. Abraham Dick, a Mennonite non-combatant serving in the medical corps, was present that day. He carried this photograph with him when he emigrated to Ontario in 1924. This was probably one of the last public occasions for the Tsar, who was deposed in March 1917. Knowing what was soon to happen in Russia, how does this picture make you feel?

Grandma, please tell me a story

Waltrude Gortzen, pictured with some of her precious family photo albums, represents the B.C. women’s ministry on the Mennonite Women Canada board. (Photo courtesy of Waltrude Gortzen)

A young Waltrude (Nickel) Gortzen, right, is pictured with Maria (Enns)Janzen, her maternal oma, while visiting her grandparents in Fernheim, Chaco, Paraguay in July 1966. (Photo courtesy of Waltrude Gortzen)

Mennonite Women Canada

Do you remember any of the stories your grandma told you when you were little? I’m not referring to Bible stories, fairytales or super-hero stories, but stories about her life or the lives of other family members? Stories of memories about days gone by.

Maple View insert: Canadian Mennonite responds

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.

Meta-morphosis

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

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

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

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.

Cooperative

Photo courtesy of Abe E. Ens

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.

Readers write: October 9, 2017 issue

Kudos to ‘Shared land’ organizers and participants
Re: “Shared land” photo, Aug. 28, back cover.

My husband and I attended and appreciated the focus on learning about and respecting the thousands of years of history of our land. It was a profound and honest way to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday.

Bringing that historical focus into the present so that we can move forward together, Bryan Yellowhorn, an Indigenous elder, reminded us that both settlers and Indigenous people need to be patient with each other’s culture and religion.

The gift of sabbatical

Aaron Roorda

Introduction
A couple of Mennonite Church British Columbia pastors have been given sabbaticals this year. I would encourage all of our congregations to find a way to give their pastors a sabbatical. It is a win-win situation for both the congregation and the pastor. While it is vital to establish the discipline of Sabbath rest in order to find a weekly rhythm of renewal, it is also significant for pastors to be given sabbaticals for the sake of their ministry focus renewal.

I didn’t share the Bridge Diagram with her

Bridge Diagram from laurelhillbaptist.org

She sat on the sidewalk of the busy street corner, five months pregnant and without a place to call home. We sat there with her on the cold concrete, listening to her story of unwarranted eviction and the seizure of all her possessions. She didn’t know how it would work out, but she expressed certainty that she’d have a place to live by the time the baby arrived. If not, the authorities would take her precious child away.

This was a story that seemed worlds away from my own. It was a story of injustice.

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