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Stronger regionalism weakens national church

Viewpoints | By Waldemar Regier | Jun 15, 2016

I have always been part of the Mennonite world, having been called to Jesus Christ in my early years; active in the fellowship of the church throughout my youth; and trained by the church through Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, N.Y. I was ordained into pastoral ministry in 1964, just at the time of transition to professional ministry in Canada.

Readers write: June 20, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 15, 2016 | 1 comment

Reading the gospels led reader to ‘faith in a living Christ’

Re: “The Bible is full of shortcomings and biases” letter, May 9, page 10.

Not a fragile faith

Willard Metzger
Viewpoints | By Willard Metzger | Jun 15, 2016

In a recent Bible study, we were looking at John 20 where Jesus appeared to the disciples. Gathered behind locked doors, Jesus appeared in the midst of them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he did an amazing thing. He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

This is a significant development. It was a graduation. They would now carry on the faith—not by receiving more teaching by Jesus, but by listening to the Holy Spirit. It was an empowering. It was an unleashing of the law written in their hearts.

‘You say goodbye, I say hello’

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jun 15, 2016 | 1 comment

A long time ago, my high school physics teacher defined work as moving something from one place to another. “You could work all day trying to move a boulder,” he expanded, “and if you hadn’t actually shifted the position of the boulder, technically speaking, you wouldn’t have worked.” His definition left its mark on my teenage brain. I do not know how accurate his description was, but I recall it as I enter an employment transition.

Alexander Fast

Photo by C.F. Klassen / Mennonite Heritage Centre.

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 15, 2016

Alexander Fast (1888-1942), front row right, and his second wife Selinde Fast (1894-1973) fled to Germany from Russia during the Russian Revolution and were immigrants to Canada in 1928. In this photo, taken in 1933, they are at the Winnipeg train station with friend C.F. Klassen (behind Alexander), leaving for British Columbia. Mennonite immigrants have not always been welcomed in Canada, being considered a danger because they came from a communist country even after passing government screening of the day. Sadly, our world continues to produce refugees.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 6)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jun 15, 2016

In an article entitled “Has militant atheism become a religion?” published on (March 24, 2013), primatologist Frans de Waal writes, “In my interactions with religious and nonreligious people alike, I now draw a sharp line, based not on what exactly they believe but on their level of dogmatism. I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion . . . .”

Readers write: June 6, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 01, 2016

Recommendation of same-sex inclusion will lead to exodus

Re: “It could soon be ‘time to run’ ” letter, April 25, 2016, page 10.

This letter refers to the upcoming Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon assembly and the recommendation that “we create space/leave room within our body to test alternative understandings [of same-sex issues] . . . .”

‘Who’ before ‘how’

Tim Froese
Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jun 01, 2016

Mennonites are blessed with traditions and aspirations that many admire: nonviolent peacemaking, mutual aid, voluntarism, relief efforts, generosity and so on. But these values alone do not inherently communicate the one whose name we bear as Christians.

Focussing on our ethical practices comes with the risk of becoming preoccupied with “how.” How will we be most effective? How can we use our resources most efficiently? How can we transform conflict and make peace? How can we sustain—or grow—vital services?

Lessons from spilled milk

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jun 01, 2016

“Don’t cry over spilled milk.” This little English phrase must have been coined by a parent watching her child pour milk into a cup. When our emerging independence turns to “needing” to pour our own milk, a parent can only watch with horror. The cup is off-centre, the pitcher trembles, and the liquid is like a tsunami bursting onto a beach. Nothing in this scenario is ever “all in.” Inevitably the deed is done, and the child’s disappointment is not helped by a justifiable “I told you so.”

Dish washing

Photo: Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 01, 2016

In 1963, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches held its annual convention in Herbert, Sask. Here, dishes were washed by hand and, of course, re-used as other delegates waited in line. Mennonite World Conference Assembly 2015 took a different approach to reduce the event’s environmental footprint by using compostable cups, dishes and cutlery. Compostables, together with food waste, were sent to a composting site north of Lancaster, Pa.

Readers write: May 23, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | May 18, 2016

Intent of Star Wars review is to criticize culture of violence

Re: “Star Wars review promotes violence against women,” April 11, page 11.

Thank you to Bev Hunsberger for alerting me to the different ways my article on Star Wars and Hollywood feminism can be viewed, even by likeminded people. She has helped me reconsider how best to communicate my thoughts on violence in film.

Cultivating imagination

Karen Martens Zimmerly
Viewpoints | By Karen Martens Zimmerly | May 18, 2016

During the Second World War, guided by the leadership of Pastor André Trocmé, the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and surrounding regions hid Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis. A less well-known story of that era comes from the small Muslim country of Albania, where both the people and the government protected their own Jewish citizens and Jews fleeing from other parts of Europe at all costs. While the world was at war and the Nazi and Fascist regimes made scapegoats of their citizens of Jewish descent, these communities lived a different imagination. They resisted.

Tending our mothers’ gardens

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 18, 2016

I am writing this column on Mother’s Day weekend. As I weed flowerbeds, memories of my hardworking mothers and their gardens dance in my head. Gram Miller—Anna Estelle—grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, in a large family that was intimately acquainted with poverty. Growing food was necessary for survival. I remember her planting many varieties of beans or enlisting my equally hard-working grandfather to do so. Even after their family was grown, they planted huge fields of beans, a cash crop to carry them over should lean times come.

What are you planting this spring?

Harold Penner
Viewpoints | By Harold Penner | May 18, 2016

May. It’s the time of year when many of us who have, or aspire to have, a green thumb turn our minds to gardening. Some may have already been nursing self-propagated seedlings for weeks, waiting for the right time to transplant them outside. Others make the trip to the local garden centre for flower or vegetable seedlings.

Neu Kronsthal

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 18, 2016 | 2 comments

This is a photo of the privately run Mennonite school in Neu Kronsthal, Man. John Kroeker (1910-82) is front row far right, and his brother Klaas Kroeker (1907-92) stands behind him. Mennonites coming from Russia in the 1870s were promised freedom of education as well as freedom of religion, believing it was the role of the church and family to educate children, not the state. Government tolerance for these schools soon dried up.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 5)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | May 18, 2016

The first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once said, “I always tried to be correct, not politically correct.”

Sometimes the pursuit of political correctness and the pursuit of truth are at odds with one another.

Readers write: May 9, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | May 04, 2016 | 1 comment

Tell the whole Mennonite story

Re: “People of the plains,” March 14, page 12.

“What is it with Mennonites and flat surroundings?” Bill Schroeder asks. But we also need to ask, “What is it with Mennonites and hilly country?”

Building bridges

Lee Dyck
Viewpoints | By Lee Dyck | May 04, 2016

Bridges are an important part of life in British Columbia. Whether it is the new Port Mann Bridge or any other crossing of our many rivers, bridges are a part of our lives. In Mennonite Church B.C., we are also in the business of building bridges.

The beautiful mind of Christ

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | May 04, 2016

How does the body of Christ maintain her mental health?

We often think about the church as the body of Christ functioning like a human body. In I Corinthians 12, we consider what it means to be a Jesus-centred community in which each part is honoured and each part does its work.

A justice-oriented church community

Katie Doke Sawatzky
Viewpoints | By Katie Doke Sawatzky | May 04, 2016

I haven’t been to the dump before. The route is unfamiliar. My father-in-law and I drive east, now on the outskirts of Regina, and eventually pass the oil refinery, a mammoth mess of tangled pipes behind a sea of parked trucks.

As we pull up, I look upon the hills and see the plastic bags. Some are floating on the breeze, lots are trapped against the fences. They dot the land like candy sprinkles. We find the right place to dump our dirt. I get out and smell the methane, but quickly forget about it as we set to work.

Naomi Martin

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | May 04, 2016

Naomi Martin holds a book belonging to her late husband, Bishop J.B. Martin, at the family home in 1975. Archivists Lorna Bergey and Sam Steiner look on as she prepares to donate his books and papers to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. J.B. Martin was a pastor and Bible school teacher who advocated for conscientious objectors during the Second World War and travelled to Israel on behalf of the Mennonite church. When records such as these are handed into the care of an archives, they begin a new life as sources for understanding the past and discerning the future.

All about love

Martha Epp, left, shows off one of her quilts to interviewer Amelia Pahl. (Photo by Larrisa Pahl)

Viewpoints | May 04, 2016

At the request of Elsie Wiebe of Mennonite Women in Manitoba, Mennonite Collegiate Institute graduating student Amelia Pahl interviewed Martha Epp, 77, of Morden, Man., who has been the primary caregiver for her husband Henry, 88, ever since debilitating arthritis set in all over his already frail body four years ago. Both Epp and Pahl attend Morden Mennonite Church.

Readers write: April 25, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Apr 20, 2016

‘You betcha’ climate change is real

Re: “Is climate change real?” by Will Braun, Feb. 29, page 17.

Is climate change real? You betcha!

Art can make a difference

Ray Dirks
Viewpoints | By Ray Dirks | Apr 20, 2016

My exhibit of paintings, Along the Road to Freedom, remembers and honours the journeys of Russian Mennonite women who led their families to freedom in Canada, mostly in the 1920s and 1940s. It also acknowledges those thousands who did not escape. It’s a story that is familiar to many cultures and faiths.

My conversion

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

Recently the Listening Church video ( was released, in which lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) people speak of their experiences in Mennonite churches. One speaker challenged people “who had changed their minds” to tell their stories. Here I take up that challenge.

Although it was not always the case, I have viewed myself as “gay-positive” for many years. (I no longer know if such a designation is even used or valued. Hopefully, the positive intent carries my meaning.)

Three significant steps mark my conversion: