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Remembering the saints

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 15, 2017

Almost 13 years ago my family said our final goodbye to my mother. Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber lived a full life on two continents, always actively participating in her extended family, church and larger community. I once observed that she and my dad “collected” friends everywhere they went. Our family’s dining room table always had room for guests, planned for or unexpected. That also meant that my parents, siblings and I could travel to many locations and enjoy meals with friends and hospitality for the night.

Readers write: November 20, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 15, 2017 | 1 comment

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
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Nov 15, 2017 | 1 comment

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
Viewpoints | By Marlow Gingerich | Nov 15, 2017

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.”

Moose Lake Dock

Mennonite Heritage Archives photo courtesy of Rudy Regehr

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Nov 15, 2017

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.

A memorable remembrance

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Nov 15, 2017

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”:

Something old and new

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 01, 2017

On the weekend of Oct. 13 to 15, Mennonite church delegates and others took part in Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg. More than 400 of us gathered from across the country to consider the direction we, as Mennonite Church Canada, should take in the years to come.

Readers write: Nov. 6, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 01, 2017

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)

Viewpoints | By Christina Bartel Barkman | Nov 01, 2017

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
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Nov 01, 2017

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.

Injera: a symbol of community

Ardith Frey, right, offers a snack to Fouzia’s three-year-old son, circa 1982. (Photo courtesy of Ardith Frey)

Viewpoints | By Ardith Frey | Nov 01, 2017

There is no other food from our years in Africa that symbolizes community quite like injera, a type of flatbread.

Tsar Nicholas II

Photo courtesy of Sarah Dyck, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Nov 01, 2017

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)

Viewpoints | By Waltrude Gortzen | Nov 01, 2017

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.

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.

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 | 29 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 | 13 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.

Nurturing a shared identity

Tobi Thiessen
Editorial | By Tobi Thiessen | Oct 04, 2017

In the Future Directions conversations, many people expressed a lingering concern that the proposed regional network forming Mennonite Church Canada could cause us, as a church family, to lose a nationwide sense of shared mission and identity. The fear is that each region will be preoccupied with its own local agenda and, therefore, will pull back from connecting with the broader church.

Readers write: October 9, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Oct 04, 2017

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

Viewpoints | By Introduction by Garry Janzen, Reflection by Aaron Roorda | Oct 04, 2017

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

Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Oct 04, 2017 | 1 comment

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.