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Readers write: August 29, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Aug 24, 2016

Dealing with mental illness is ‘hard enough already’

Thank you for the recent special issue of Canadian Mennonite on “mental health.” It is an important topic if we are to love each other well. Mental differences are invisible but they can lead to very different ways of interacting with other people and the world around us.

Ride for a ‘dream’

Daniel Horne
Viewpoints | By Daniel Horne | Aug 24, 2016

In October 2014, Wame Chiepe invited us to dream.

Wame lives near an abandoned park in Gaborone, Botswana. Young children play on a rusty, broken-down slide. Surrounded by drinking establishments, the park is an unsafe place. Night-time robberies and stabbings are not unusual. Eventually, the playground kids graduate to the nearby bars.

Wame dreamed of transforming the park and the lives of kids who play there. His dream has grown to inspire a local cadre of investors—and supporters in Mennonite Church Canada.

Healthy families adapt

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 24, 2016

It’s an exciting time for many people in my extended family. Three nieces are university students, preparing for careers in education or medicine. One niece, with BA newly in hand, has entered an intense one-year fellowship, halfway across the continent from her family and friendship supports. Two nephews are marrying this year. Others of that generation are starting new jobs or searching for employment, raising children or serving in international ministry.

A big change

Viewpoints | By Darren Pries-Klassen | Aug 24, 2016

Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) is about to make a big change. In October, we will become Abundance Canada.

This decision did not come easily. Our process was both cautious and comprehensive. Long before we considered rebranding, the board and management began strategizing for the future. Through this process we affirmed a number of core values. Among them is our commitment to serving the church with biblical stewardship education and the facilitation of charitable giving.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 8)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Aug 24, 2016

In John 14:6, Jesus claims that he is the truth. What does this mean?

I used to think that the truth of Christ was a set of doctrines I needed to believe in, but I’ve become convinced that it is actually his state of consciousness and his way of life that we are now called to participate in.

An open letter to MC Canada

Ervin R. Stutzman
Viewpoints | By Ervin R. Stutzman | Aug 24, 2016

I was grateful for the opportunity to attend your biennial meeting in Saskatoon in early July. As always, I was impressed by the creativity expressed in your worship services and the focussed, thoughtful discussions in your business sessions, along with the comic relief I’ve come to expect in your gatherings.


Photo: C.F. Klassen / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies | Aug 24, 2016

When Mennonites came to Ontario and western Canada in the 1920s, they were helped by the “Swiss” Mennonites, such as those from The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ont. The poor farming conditions and low commodity prices of the 1930s made the financial situation very difficult. In these circumstances, Mennonite Brethren and Mennonites worshipped together in communities such as Vineland. Within a few years, after they were more established and had more resources, Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren decided to separate and build their own churches.

Readers write: August 15, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

What about the pastors who are forced to refrain from moonlighting?

Re: “Meet the pastors who moonlight,” June 20, page 4.

Creating space

Ryan Siemens
Viewpoints | By Ryan Siemens | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

After nine years of working together on the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, by an 85 percent majority, delegates at Assenbly 2016 in Saskatoon approved the BFC7 recommendation. (See “Delegates vote to allow space for differences.”


Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Aug 10, 2016

We have abandoned the battleground.

India crate

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Aug 10, 2016

Helen Warkentin was a long-term missionary to India from 1920 to 1957, and took many orphans ‘under her wing.’ She received support from family and friends back in Winkler, Man. Pictured, Manitobans proudly gather around a large crate of goods they are sending to Warkentin, to be used for the care of the poor in India. The sending address on the crate is #1116, Dyck & Kroeker, Winkler, Man., CPR. How do we support our mission workers today?

Readers write: July 25, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jul 20, 2016

Use land for food production, not burying the dead

For some time, I have wondered whether we are good stewards when we use precious real estate to bury our dead. I do not now own real estate, and I question why, upon my death, I should own a piece of land for the next thousand years. Thousands of hectares of land hold grave markers, pay no taxes, require maintenance and are all but forgotten. I will give up my little plot to grow food for a starving world.

Delegates have spoken

Willard Metzger
Viewpoints | By Willard Metzger | Jul 20, 2016 | 1 comment

In a much-anticipated assembly, delegates have clearly spoken on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada. After an eight-year Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, delegates approved the BFC7 recommendation with an 85 percent majority. This is clear affirmation for seeking a way forward together in responding to committed same-sex relationships.

Healthy diversity

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jul 20, 2016

“What does a healthy congregation look like?” I asked a pastor friend recently. He responded by telling a story of how he had led his congregation through a contentious issue. In the process, people spoke openly of their views, listened carefully, and, in the end, came to a satisfactory understanding about how to live with their differences. “A healthy congregation,” he concluded, “is able to take part in honest, respectful discussions and live with the tension of a variety of views.”

Joy proposition: Give till it feels good

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen
Viewpoints | By Dori Zerbe Cornelsen | Jul 20, 2016

In my childhood home, we had a unique red velveteen bag. When you pressed on the bag in the right place, you heard the sound of someone laughing, really guffawing. The recording went on for at least a full minute and you could almost hear the person wiping the tears from his eyes.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 7)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jul 20, 2016

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The truth is more important than the facts.”

I agree, although I’m not sure that I could explain why. What is the difference between truth and fact?

Old Order Mennonite farmer

Photo by David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Jul 20, 2016

An Old Order Mennonite farmer in Waterloo Region, Ont., works the fields by horsepower in 1950, much as his 19th-century counterparts would have done. We take the cycle of the seasons for granted, yet in 1816 Mennonite settlers in Upper Canada (now Ontario) experienced “the year without a summer.” When Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted in 1815, average global temperatures decreased by up to 0.7 C. Waterloo Region experienced seven heavy frosts in June and July of the next year.

Readers write: July 4, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 28, 2016

‘Testing,’ ‘nudging’ on sexual issues has already occurred

The Being a Faithful Church document being presented at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly recognizes that “we differ dramatically in our biblical interpretations,” and that we should “learn to honour those persons with whom we disagree.”

With “unity” and “diversity” in mind, one recommendation being presented is that parts of the body of MC Canada be allowed to “test alternative understandings from those of the larger body to see if they are a prophetic nudging of the Spirit of God.”

Listen to the Spirit

Peter Rempel
Viewpoints | By Peter Rempel | Jun 28, 2016

What direction will Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches be going into the future after the assembly in Saskatoon? Will we become a more faithful church?

Crucial to our future and our faithfulness will be our understanding of, and commitment to, the unity of the church, specifically to the unity of our denomination.

Are we missing the mark?

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jun 28, 2016

The team I serve with is blessed by the presence of an 80-year-old saint. He has lived a full life, including serving in high levels of government, so he’s garnered significant insight and healthy scepticism. In the last few years, he says he has realized the power of the Holy Spirit and the centrality of prayer far too late in life.

Agonizing over the ‘best’ community?

Katie Doke Sawatzky
Viewpoints | By Katie Doke Sawatzky | Jun 28, 2016 | 1 comment

My son will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Along with feelings of excitement and uncertainty over seeing him go to school, and the adjustment it’ll mean for our family, actually choosing a school has been the hardest part.

Irene Klassen

Irene Klassen (Photo by John Klassen / Mennonite Archives of Alberta)

Viewpoints | By Alice Unrau | Jun 28, 2016

Irene Klassen is pictured touring a sawmill at LaCrete, Alta., in September 2003, when the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta meeting was held in the northern Alberta town. The trip was almost a thousand kilometres, so it took a long day to get there. Participants were provided with a tour of the LaCrete Mennonite Heritage Village, the Heimstaed Lodge for seniors, and the sawmill. Klassen was a long-term volunteer for the historical society for many years; it would not have survived had it not been for her determination.

Becoming Aryan

Genealogy—often a means of proving Aryan identity—became a popular pastime among Mennonites in the Third Reich. Pictured, a 1938 gathering of the genealogical society of the van Bergen family in Marienburg, East Prussia.” / Horst Gerlach, Bildband zur Geschichte der Mennoniten (Uelzen-Oldenstadt: Preuschoff, 1980), page 52

Viewpoints | By Ben Goossen | Jun 28, 2016

When Susanna Toews arrived in Litzmannstadt, Poland, in 1944, she was already a member of the Nazi racial elite. Her native village in Ukraine had come under German occupation in 1941 with Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. During the intervening two-and-a-half years, the young Mennonite woman became a beneficiary of racial warfare.

Passing on the faith by example

Co-pastor Donita Wiebe-Neufeld of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, baptizes Tom Buhr. (Photo by Ev Buhr)

Viewpoints | By Ev Buhr | Jun 28, 2016

As parents, you hope that you have done all that you can to nurture and encourage your children on their faith journey, and yet there is that inner voice telling you that you might not have done quite enough. Maybe you could have read more Bible stories when they were children. Maybe you should have prayed together more as a family. Maybe you should have had more in-depth discussions on being a part of the church.

Can MC Canada become a ‘we’?

Viewpoints | By Gerald Gerbrandt | Jun 15, 2016

One thing became very clear during the Future Directions Task Force conversation: In the imagination of most of us, Mennonite Church Canada is an “it” or a “they.” Currently, we experience the larger denomination—including the area churches—as an entity apart or distinct from the local congregation. We may affirm the services the denomination provides, or the programs it delivers, but these are “it” doing things for “us.”