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Viewpoints

Mary Ann Cressman

 (Photo by James Reusser / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Sep 20, 2017

Do you recognize this “Mennonite centre”? Mary Ann Cressman, second from left, her husband Menno C., and others stand outside the family’s dry goods store at 82 King Street East, Kitchener, Ont., circa 1905. Mary Ann lost an arm in a buggy accident, but that did not deter her from becoming the “founding mother” of the Mennonite Women’s Missionary Society in Ontario during the First World War. Travelling to churches, she urged women to “take hold” of the tasks of supporting local needs, war relief and missionary efforts. Menno C.

A legacy of giving

Viewpoints | By Brad Friesen | Sep 20, 2017

A few weeks ago, we welcomed our first grandchild into the world. Amid my great joy, I have recently found myself reflecting on the incredible responsibility of raising children. Scripture advises that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

Focussing our fear

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Sep 20, 2017

I have a nagging thought as I sit down to write this article. It’s this: I have no idea what state our world will be in when you read this in a few weeks. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

It’s unsettling to be aware of not only the possibility—but the probability—something catastrophic will happen in the near future. Another devastating natural disaster, explosion, school shooting, war, stock market crash . . . the possibilities are endless. Any or all of these could happen before this article goes to print.

Readers write: September 11, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Sep 06, 2017

Why aren’t Mennonites holding federal Liberal government to account?
I have been waiting for the deluge of reader letters and opinion columns expressing shock and disappointment that the current federal Liberal government has announced massive increases in military spending, but the silence is deafening.

Pay attention to each other

Viewpoints | By Abe Janzen | Sep 06, 2017 | 2 comments

I am soon transitioning out of a leadership role with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta. Before this, I was a country rep in Bolivia, and before that a director with Fairview College. I was asked to write an Alberta piece for this space and was told it doesn’t need to be about leadership. Maybe it isn’t. I think it’s about community.  

When coffee replaces swords

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Sep 06, 2017

Five hundred years ago, our spiritual ancestors were on the cusp of an extended bloodbath of religious violence. In marked contrast, I just enjoyed a three-hour conversation over coffee. Our time was filled with laughter, joy and mutual sharpening. We parted ways with warm hugs. What a difference half a millennium has made. Thanks be to God!

Midwestern recipe has surprising origin

Willa and Ken Reddig (Photo courtesy of Ken Reddig)

Viewpoints | By Ken Reddig | Sep 06, 2017

The intercultural migration of foods is very interesting. My mother-in-law, Helen (Faul) Fadenrecht, who lived in North Dakota, regularly made a recipe she called Bean Sprouts, because that was the primary ingredient. Helen was a good cook, considered one of the best in the community, and her Bean Sprouts dish was unusual and delicious. It became one of her specialties.

Bill Koop

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Sep 06, 2017

Bill Koop sits on a stack of Mennonite history books, leaning against the Fort Garry (Man.) Mennonite Brethren Church sign. Recently deceased Canadian storyteller and broadcaster Stuart McLean wrote in Vinyl Café Turns the Page: “Choosing a hero is a delicate business, one that shouldn’t be undertaken frivolously. For the heroes we choose, whether real or imagined, whether from the world of fact or from the pages of fiction, will determine, to a greater or lesser degree, the things that we do, and if we allow them the privilege, the lives that we lead.” Who are your heroes?

Embracing traditions

Mel Harms takes a selfie on Vancouver Island this summer. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

Viewpoints | By Mel Harms | Sep 06, 2017 | 1 comment

Have you ever wondered about your family traditions? What are they and when did they come to be? That’s been me this summer. Every summer we have our “must do” plans, and my girls go along without question because it’s tradition. This year, it became clear that some of our habits have become family traditions.

Readers write: August 28, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Aug 23, 2017

National church needs to continue leading the way to reconciliation
The following letter was originally written to Mennonite Church Canada’s Interim Council and is reprinted at the authors’ request.

As walkers on the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, we write to share our gratitude for the leadership and vision offered through MC Canada that made this walk possible. However, we also express our hope and concern for the future as the church continues to work towards reconciliation and just relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Relational trust

Ryan Siemens
Viewpoints | By Ryan Siemens | Aug 23, 2017

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

God’s heartbreak

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 23, 2017

While training as a family therapist, I learned the term “emotional cut-off.” It was not a dynamic I was personally familiar with; my particular family tends to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. We are often so closely entwined in each other’s lives that a little more breathing space would be desirable, healthy even. As it suggests, emotional cut-off refers to ruptures in families. Relationships become so heated and painful that one or more persons cut off contact with others. A realistic metaphor is that of amputation.

Contagious generosity

Kevin Davidson
Viewpoints | By Kevin Davidson | Aug 23, 2017

For many years my wife and I raised our family in an older community with many beautiful boulevard trees but very few young families. Despite our best efforts, our neighbours were aloof and at times confrontational, but we loved our little home and the family we were building there.

Sieburg women

(Photo from the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Aug 23, 2017

Who are these five women from Siegburg, Germany, in 1919? We don’t know for certain, but on Jan. 13, soldier Gordon Eby wrote that he and an army buddy “called at the home of the Krohn family—Hubertina, Maria, Lena, Katie and Bettie.” Eby was a long way from his home and Mennonite roots in Kitchener, Ont., when his battalion was quartered in Germany after the Armistice. Speaking German helped open doors for him to the warmth of German hospitality towards former “enemies.” This is the kind of war story that seldom gets told. Why is that?

Simple but not easy

Dan Dyck
Viewpoints | By Dan Dyck | Aug 23, 2017

Catching up on Witness worker reports, I came across an update from Mary Raber, who teaches at the Odessa Theological Seminary in Ukraine, a country continuing to experience turmoil despite the absence of stories in the mainstream news media.

In a class she taught about women in church history, she invited students to tell a story about a woman who had influenced their spiritual lives. Although the particulars of each story varied, three common threads emerged: hospitality, prayer and faithfulness.

I’ll melt with you

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Aug 23, 2017 | 1 comment

Our family was fortunate enough to see an iceberg this summer near Twillingate, N.L. It was a surreal experience for me. Everything around me paused for a brief transcendent moment, frozen in time, with the ironic exception of the massive spire of ice in front of me. “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” by the 1980s band Modern English began playing in the back of my mind.

Readers write: July 24, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jul 18, 2017

Millennial wants to sing a variety of music in church
Re: “What music rankles you?” column, March 13, page 8.
I couldn’t agree with this article more. As a millennial teenager, I am mixed in with the generation of people who only like church if it’s like a concert. My opinion is that there should be a mixture of music in church every Sunday. We have to find a middle ground between hymns and contemporary music to help the church grow.

Serving up your inner scapegoat

Coreena Stewart
Viewpoints | By Coreena Stewart | Jul 18, 2017

One late Friday afternoon when the office was nearly empty, two clean-cut young men showed up at the Mennonite Church Canada reception desk to inquire about pension benefits for their widowed mother. Assuming they were sons of a pastor, the receptionist sent them my way. As chief administrative officer, helping such people out is part of my job.

A spacious year

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jul 18, 2017

A year ago, I said goodbye to my job and stepped into an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown, or beyond certainty, as my father would qualify when he spoke of plans, concluding, “Lord willing.” The same acknowledgement comes from our Muslim friends who say inshallah with a similar meaning.

Continuous pruning

Harold Penner
Viewpoints | By Harold Penner | Jul 18, 2017

With the arrival of summer, my wife and I have been enjoying more time outside. Our yard contains many different fruit trees, shrubs and grapevines that provide shade, beauty, and a harvest of berries and fruits. The trees and shrubs are easily managed. However, the grapevines are another story.

Edward Beatty

Photo from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

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

Edward Beatty, front row right, and John Dennis, behind him, speak with Mennonite girls. Dennis was a young man in 1874 who witnessed the Mennonite immigration to Manitoba. Over the next decades, he observed that the Mennonites were honest, hardworking and trustworthy farmers. By 1922, he was a commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He convinced Beatty, his boss, to extend credit of $400,000 to bring Mennonites from Russia to Canada based on a handshake with Bishop David Toews and the Mennonites’ good name.  The amount grew to $1.7 million.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 10)

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

Someone once said to me, “The problem with Christians is they are all mental!”

As I reflected on his disparaging comment, I realized he had a point. Not the point he was trying to make, implying all Christians suffer from “a psychiatric disorder,” which is the second definition of the word “mental.” My epiphany came to me when I considered his statement in light of the first definition of “mental,” which means “of, or related to, the mind.”

Constants in the context of change

John H. Neufeld

Viewpoints | By John H. Neufeld | Jul 18, 2017

If I were to give a 14-minute TED Talk in our church context before the restructuring assembly for Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches in October, this is the gist of what I would want to communicate. I would like to ask and give an answer to an important question: What is it that is more important for all of us than our current and necessary restructuring? Or, to put it another way, what is the core vision for the church that undergirds whatever structures we create and is foundational for the life of every congregation?

Readers write: July 3, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 28, 2017 | 1 comment

Speaker sets the record straight on the Ziffernsystem

Re: “Singing by the numbers,” May 22, page 32.
It was good to see a report on my participation in the annual meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan.

However, the report presents a somewhat confusing picture of my message. Perhaps the simplest way to approach the matter is to say that I gave two presentations.

Paddling rough waters

Ken Warkentin
Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Jun 28, 2017

I’m told that white-water rafting requires four simple considerations.

They are simple but they are very important:

  1. Rest during the calm spots because there are always more rapids ahead.
  2. When a rock looms ahead, lean into it, not away from it.
  3. Whatever else you do, keep paddling.
  4. If you fall in the water, let everything go except your life jacket.

As a church in Canada, I believe that we are experiencing white-water times. These rules are helpful for the 21st century:

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