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Heinrich Winter

Photo: Johann Wichert / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Feb 08, 2017

This photo tells the story of a congregation’s diaspora. The last ältester (ordained elder) of the Chortitza Mennonite Church in Ukraine was Heinrich Winter. The church was the first Mennonite congregation organized in Imperial Russia, and thrived up until the Soviet era, when the government made religious activities extremely difficult. In 1943, most of the congregation fled to Germany. Ältester Johann Wichert took this photo of Winter with the church’s last communion cup in 1948. The Winter family emigrated to Leamington, Ont., that same year. Where the cup is now is a mystery.

More should be expected from the CBC

Artbeat | By Royden Loewen | Feb 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Many of you will have watched the first episode of CBC’s mini-series Pure last night (Jan. 9). As a spectator, I was mildly entertained. As a Canadian who loves this culturally diverse country, I was troubled. As an historian who has written extensively about both the Old Order horse-and-buggy Mennonites of southern Ontario and the Low German Mennonite migrants from Mexico, I was deeply dismayed.

Is our indignant response to Pure righteous?

Dan Dyck
Artbeat | By Dan Dyck | Feb 08, 2017

Since the first couple of episodes of CBC’s Pure depicting Mennonites as drug runners from Mexico aired on Jan. 9 and 16, 2017, the temperature of our community’s righteous indignation has reached a fever pitch. The loudest voices so far are appalled at the conflation of two distinct groups (Old Colony Mennonites from Mexico and Old Order Mennonites in Ontario), poor research, a lack of accuracy and, perhaps most of all, strong objection to stereotyping us as drug-running murderers.

‘Never again’?

Collage of a synagogue burning during ‘the night of broken glass.’ (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 08, 2017

Until March 4, 2017, the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery is hosting an important exhibit of new art entitled “Synagogues in Germany: A virtual reconstruction.” First imagined by a group of German university students following the arson of a local synagogue in 1994, the project consists of digital reconstructions of dozens of the extraordinary synagogues that were lost to history in the 1938 Reichspogromnacht, in the year before the Second World War began.

New ways of doing good

Artbeat | By Will Braun | Feb 08, 2017

I had to make my way past the sombre line-up of people waiting for welfare cheques at the band office. It was awful. I worked in the office of a northern first nation, and once a month I had to squeeze past the indignity, shame and hopelessness that silently clogged the front entrance.

That highlighted two things for me. First, welfare is not a solution; it is a dreadful lack of creativity. Never did I think “the solution is bigger cheques.” Second, people need jobs, with exceptions for those who are unable to work.

The ‘sin’ of disunity

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 25, 2017 | 7 comments

The tension in the room was palpable. High winds and blizzard conditions outside kept some from attending the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship meeting in Winnipeg (see “Let him speak,” page 18), but the stormy weather on Jan. 12 was not confined to the outdoors. Inside the winds of confrontation were brewing, too.

Readers write: January 30, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jan 25, 2017

Reader lauds ‘brilliant’ Christmas feature

Re: “Spirit-heat to thaw your freezing blood” feature, Dec. 12, 2016, page 4.

As my dental hygienist would say: “brilliant!” Thank you, Layton Friesen. May you enjoy a long and fruitful ministry.

Wayne Nafziger, Alliston, Ont.

 

Church goes nowhere when mired in talk of sexuality and abuse of power

Unexpected consequences

Dan Dyck
Viewpoints | By Dan Dyck | Jan 25, 2017 | 2 comments

When we as a church agree to help those in need and place our trust in God, we should anticipate unexpected consequences. As we serve, we might make new friends, learn a new skill or enrich our spiritual lives.

God has unexpectedly blessed us by arranging us into congregations, area churches, a national church, schools, and organizations like Mennonite Central Committee and Abundance, among others, so that we can more effectively and efficiently use our resources to follow Jesus.

Healthy humility lightens the journey

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jan 25, 2017

I am in my 60s, as are many of my friends. Our parents, if they are living, are in their 80s and 90s, with the accompanying challenges and rewards of that season of life. The experiences of the parents impact their children significantly. Now, when I gather with my peers, we often talk about our parents. The stories we tell may be distressing or inspiring, funny or heartbreaking. Mostly I am thankful for companions who listen and commiserate.

Preventing prodigals

Mike Strathdee
Viewpoints | By Mike Strathdee | Jan 25, 2017

Many of us are familiar with the the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. There are great lessons in this story about grace and forgiveness, but I’ve never heard it used in the context of warning about giving children gifts before they are emotionally or spiritually mature enough to handle them properly.

Peter Toews

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jan 25, 2017 | 1 comment

For much of Mennonite history, leaders were called from within the group to serve. This was in addition to working on their own farm or business to pay the bills. One of the longest-serving bishops of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church, centred in Manitoba, was Peter A. Toews (1877-1961), pictured with his wife Maria Toews (1880-1970). He was elected minister in 1929 and served as bishop from 1931 to 1951. This non-salaried leadership model continues in the more traditional Mennonite groups.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 4)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jan 25, 2017

How does one define wisdom? It’s difficult to put into words.

Herman Hesse, in his classic novel, Siddhartha, writes: “Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish. . . . Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Making the list

Aaron Epp
Editorial | By Aaron Epp | Jan 11, 2017

At the end of every year, I get together with a group of friends and we discuss our favourite music that came out in the previous 12 months. As a starting point for the discussion, each of us creates a list of our 10 favourite albums of the year.

When we began this music night many years ago, I was tempted to come up with an objective list of the Top Ten Best Albums of the Year. It would be a definitive list of the undeniably best music released in all of the world.

Readers write: January 16, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jan 11, 2017

Being pro-Palestinian is not being anti-Jewish

Re: “A better way than BDS?” letter, Nov. 21, 2016, page 10.

All aboard for the future

David Martin
Viewpoints | By David Martin | Jan 11, 2017

The timing was tight. I had made it to the airport parking lot and was then shuttled to Terminal 1 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to catch my flight to Winnipeg for yet another round of meetings with executive staff and moderators from each of the five area churches and Mennonite Church Canada. Security went smoothly and I just had enough time to grab a coffee and get to the gate in time for boarding.

Strengthen what remains

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jan 11, 2017 | 2 comments

I wonder what it was like to be on the receiving end of those seven letters to the churches named in Revelation 2 and 3. The words of Jesus to fellowships in present-day western Turkey were both encouraging and at points sharp with direct challenge. Jesus is serious about the health and vitality of his body, no matter where they are or what they are staring down.

Sharing baked goods by the dozen

Although Frieda Woelk didn’t spend much time in the kitchen when she was young, she quickly learned to cook and bake when her children came along. (Photo by Ruth Boehm)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Jan 11, 2017

Frieda Woelk loves to bake. When she gets up in the morning, she thinks, “What can I bake today?” Although she is in her mid-80s and lives in a seniors apartment in the Leamington (Ont.) Mennonite Home complex, she keeps very busy with cooking, baking and socializing. She is so busy that when her children want to spend time with her they ask, “When can we pencil you in?”

Funk crop

Photo: Samuel McRoberts photo collection / Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jan 11, 2017

Cornelius R. Funk shows plant growth in his new home in Menno Colony, Paraguay. In 1926, Funk and 1,785 other Mennonites from Saskatchewan and Manitoba left for Paraguay because they did not trust the Canadian government. New York banker Samuel McRoberts helped them sell their land and acquire new land. McRoberts saw successive waves of immigration as a financial opportunity. A series of 252 photos were taken from 1926 to 1929, showing the progressive and successful farms of the new immigrants. Conflict arose over the use of the photos.

What’s in a name?

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
Viewpoints | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 11, 2017

We eyed each other’s books and wondered who would ask the “Mennonite” question first. Our names, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld and K.V. Doerksen, were emblazoned across our books (Thirty Bucks and Blessed are the Dead, respectively), and since book sales were slow at the library, we had time to talk.

Staying afloat in a sea of change

Viewpoints | By John Longhurst | Jan 11, 2017

For some in Mennonite Church Canada, this might be a frightening time, as the denomination faces an uncertain future. It might be cold comfort, but you are not alone; most denominations in Canada are facing the same uncertainties today.

I know this because last year I interviewed people who do fundraising for 15 Canadian denominational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that represent 30 denominations. Everyone I spoke with agreed that this is a challenging time for denominations and the programs they support.

And what are those challenges facing denominations today?

Deepening our faith journeys

Shirley Stauffer Redekop, front row centre, is pictured with some of the 24 Canadian participants at last fall’s ‘Deep faith’ conference at AMBS. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Stauffer Redekop)

Viewpoints | By Shirley Stauffer Redekop | Jan 11, 2017

“Jesus calls us to life-long journeys of faith—shaped in part by our age and stage in life. Faith practices are deepest and richest when our Christian community embraces and nurtures all these different ages and stages of our lives in a variety of contexts.”

Play tells stories in refugees’ own words

The cast of disPLACE is composed of Uliana Akulenko, Emmett Hanly, Jane Oliphant, Keenan Marchard and Kate Nundal. (Displace Productions photo by Jef Gibbons)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Jan 11, 2017

One of today’s most pressing social issues came to life onstage late last year at Trinity Western University (TWU) with the world premiere of the original drama, disPLACE: Refugee Stories in their Own Words. The play was presented through Dark Glass Theatre in association with the university’s Humanitas Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre.

University theatre personnel sifted through more than 20 hours of audio interviews in order to find the words to use in the drama.

Letting his spirit grow

Larry Krause says his music is a reflection of his faith. (Photo courtesy of Larry Krause)

Artbeat | By Donna Schulz | Jan 11, 2017 | 1 comment

Like many Mennonites, Larry Krause grew up singing in Sunday school and church choirs. Music has always been an important part of his life, but in the past decade it has taken on greater dimensions.

As a singer/songwriter in the roots, western and country gospel traditions, Krause has recorded four albums. His most recent effort, entitled Let Your Spirit Grow, features gospel music. An earlier gospel album, The Gate is Open, won the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Gospel Album of Year Award in 2007.

A year of re-visioning

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Dec 21, 2016

This year—2017—will bring changes for members of Mennonite Church Canada, a denominational entity to be reconfigured into a proposed structure of five area churches doing the work of a denominational centre in Winnipeg. It is uncharted territory, to say the least.

Readers write: January 2, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Dec 21, 2016

‘A timely rebuke’ to MC B.C.’s ‘professional’ church leaders

Re: “No more closed doors” editorial, Nov. 7, 2016, page 2.

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