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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.

Jacob Shantz

Mennonite Heritage Archives Photo

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Oct 04, 2017

Jacob Y. Shantz (1822-1909) of Berlin, Ont., (now Kitchener), with his family. Shantz was involved in fruit growing and maple-sugar production. He was a building contractor and industrialist, but is also remembered for his role in the establishment of Mennonite communities in Manitoba. The Manitoba village of Shantzenfeld is named in his honour. Shantz wondered if fruit could be grown in Manitoba. In 1877, he sent 424 apple, 313 pear, 300 plum and 300 cherry trees to Manitoba. Two years later, he was pleased to see a harvest of apples.

Harvesting ideas for a new Mennonite Church Saskatchewan

Craig Neufeld, standing, and Bruce Jantzen brainstorm ways of making the dream of ‘deeper spirituality’ a reality at MC Saskatchewan’s Refresh, Refocus, Renew mini-retreat. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 04, 2017

It’s harvest time on the Prairies for farmers on their combines, and this year for members of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan as they met for their second Refresh, Refocus, Renew mini-retreat.

About 75 participants, representing 24 MC Saskatchewan congregations, gathered at Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon on Sept. 15 and 16, 2017. Betty Pries, a managing partner with Credence & Co. (formerly L3 Group), based in Kitchener, Ont., led the weekend workshop.

Saskatchewan congregation adopts new English name

Members of Fields of Hope Mennonite Church gather around their new church sign. Celeste Wright, far right, is the congregation’s pastor. (Photo by Alan Laughlin)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 04, 2017

Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church has a new name. Now known as Fields of Hope Mennonite Church, the congregation once met in three neighbouring communities: Glenbush, Rabbit Lake and Mayfair, Sask., about 195 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Today, although the three churches still exist as legal entities, services are primarily held at the Glenbush church.

On a journey towards reconciliation

The new sign in Conrad Grebel University College’s garden, unveiled on Sept. 22, 2017, acknowledges the history of the land in relationship to Indigenous peoples. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 04, 2017

Twelve years ago, Conrad Grebel University College planted a black walnut tree and erected a sign marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival in 1805 of the first Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania and the establishment of the “German Company Tract.” But time has a way of altering understandings of events and history. On Sept. 22, 2017, a new sign was erected beside the old one, acknowledging the larger and longer history of the land.

‘For Christ’s sake, we better do something about it’

Walkers hold signs advocating for Bill C-262 on their way to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

God at work in the World | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Oct 04, 2017

“Walk the talk of nation to nation. Implement the declaration!”

More than a hundred people chanted these words as they walked for Indigenous rights in Winnipeg, situated on Treaty 1 land, on Sept. 23, 2017.

The group met at Stephen Juba Park and walked 12 kilometres to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in support of Bill C-262, a private member’s bill that, if passed, would begin the process of harmonizing Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Faces and places in an aging China

This man is 102 years old. I couldn’t resist capturing his image as he gazed out a window. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

God at work in the World | By Anita Bergen, Cameron Nicolle | Oct 04, 2017

Like Canada, China is facing an aging population. There is a growing need for elder-care homes, as families shift away from the cultural norm of taking care of their aging loved ones. Churches have stepped in and have begun to build elder-care homes to address the need. These churches have reached out to faith communities in North America that have a long history of running nursing homes, to hear about their experiences.

PACS grads create a strong society

During his MPACS internship, Darren Kropf, left, worked at Border Peace School in Cheorwon, South Korea, where he taught peace education and advised on program development of a new peace school seeking reconciliation and reunification of the Koreas. (Photo courtesy of Darren Kropf)

Focus On Education | By Kelly Brown | Oct 04, 2017

At Conrad Grebel University College, parents of prospective peace and conflict studies (PACS) students often ask, “What kind of job will my child get after graduation?” What we say with confidence is that an undergraduate or graduate PACS degree equips students with highly sought-after skills in today’s job market. This kind of education leaves the door open to a multitude of fields, some of which are yet to be created, fields that will require adaptable minds, critical thinking, strong interpersonal skills and the ability to thrive in challenging environments.  

A passionate advocate for Mennonite education

Dennis Wikerd

Focus On Education | By David Lobe | Oct 04, 2017 | 2 comments

Mennonite institutions endure based on the hard work and dedication of those who believe in their impact on individuals and the broader community. On Jan. 31, 2018, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate will lose a passionate advocate for Mennonite education, one the school will sorely miss, when Dennis Wikerd retires as the school’s assistant principal after 39 years of service.

Canadian MBA students explore the common good

Graduate students in the Collaborative MBA discuss elements of leadership during a residency on the campus of Bluffton University. From the top left is Anna Herdeck of Chicago; Gordon Damien of Winnipeg; Annalisa Brenneman, with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia; Marcus Ebright Zehr and Ben Bontrager, both of Goshen, Ind.; and Adara Kaita of Winnipeg. (Bluffton University photo)

Focus On Education | Oct 04, 2017

Ten graduate students, including five Canadian Mennonite University students, gathered on the campus of Bluffton University for a week in August for the fourth annual Collaborative MBA (master of business administration) residency. While the students began as strangers from vastly different backgrounds, they left with newfound ideas on leadership and lasting bonds.

“It’s a big commitment, but I like learning, and I think it’s going to be worth it,” said Jim Cheng, who works at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.

Learning to be vulnerable

Isaac Schlegel. (MCI photo)

Focus On Education | By Isaac Schlegel | Oct 04, 2017

I graduated from Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) in Gretna, Man., in 2016, and it is where I first learned to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is exposure, letting our true self shine through the layers of defence we build up around it. It is full, undaunted expression. Self-expression will mean something different to each person, but for me it meant finding my voice through singing.

I was sceptical about the idea of singing in choir. Singing has a certain association with impending judgment. I felt like it was too risky, too open to criticism.

Serving students and learning from mistakes

Niamh Reynolds wants to see students at Columbia Bible College ‘going on a journey with God.’ (Photo courtesy of Niamh Reynolds)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

In addition to faculty and staff, student council members can play a key role in shaping campus life at colleges and universities. By advocating for their peers, planning social events and organizing service projects, these young leaders have a big impact on what goes on between and after classes.

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes and dreams for the 2017-18 school year.

The kids are all right ... aren’t they?

‘I would say this to older Christians: Don’t be afraid to offer guidance,’ Gil Dueck says. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Bible College)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

Gil Dueck doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all plan for how churches can better engage with the young adults in their congregations, but he has some ideas.

While questions about “how the kids are doing” can quickly become cliché, he says, ultimately, they are healthy.

MCC responds to Irma’s devastation in Caribbean

Osa Jonmarits, a community health organizer in La Chapelle, Haiti, receives a comforter, a Mennonite Central Committee relief bucket and water purification tablets after his home and property were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irma. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Web First | Oct 03, 2017


Osa Jonmarits and his family were awakened in the middle of the night as water rushed into their mud-and-stone house on the mountains of La Chapelle, Haiti, and covered them in their beds.

The flash flooding came from Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that passed to the north of Haiti on Sept. 7. It caused flash floods and heavy winds from the country’s northern shores to its deep interior, where La Chapelle is located.

Viewpoint: Why we change hymn texts

Each new hymnal committee assesses and edits hymns. Pictured are notes concerning textual changes for the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal. (Photo by Adam Tice)

Web First | By Katie Graber | Oct 03, 2017 | 1 comment

Should hymns be sung in their original form or should they be updated? This is a more complicated question than it may seem. Take “Be Thou My Vision,” for instance. Hymnal Companion discusses three versions of this song: the Old Irish poem from the eighth century, a 1905 English translation, and a later “versified” or metered version. If someone wanted to be true to the original, which version would they believe we ought to sing? Or, if someone wanted to update the language, could they do so without losing the stately poetry?

Annual relief festival raises $1 million

More than 1,200 volunteers of all ages help make the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief possible. (Photo by Katrina Grabowski)

Web First | Oct 03, 2017

More than 20,000 people attended the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia Festival for World Relief over two days in mid-September at the Abbotsford TRADEX, helping to raise more than $1 million to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work locally and around the world.

The annual Bread of Life auction, which raises funds for food security projects, contributed more than $230,000 to the festival’s fundraising total. This year, these donations will support food security projects in Kenya, assisting more than 9,000 households.

Mennonite helps Lutherans commemorate the Reformation

Mennonite Willard Metzger shares a sermon with delegates to the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada photo)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Oct 03, 2017

Serving communion at the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) was a profoundly humbling experience for Willard Metzger.

“I felt as though I was surrounded by a huge cloud of Anabaptist witnesses from the past,” says Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director.

The significance of that statement is deeply rooted in history.

General Board confession

Web First | Sep 29, 2017 | 12 comments

As the General Board of Mennonite Church Canada anticipates potential change following the Special Assembly, we are reminded of things done, and not done. We are deeply aware of weakness and strength. We are aware of successes and failures. We are aware that the journey is not over, and significant challenges remain.

Making space for the Spirit

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Sep 20, 2017 | 4 comments

Fourteen months have gone by since the conclusion of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process and the decision congregational delegates made at Assembly 2016. At the end of that seven-year process, a large majority of the delegates voted in favour of “creating space” for congregations to differ from one another when it comes to committed same-sex relationships.

Jacob’s ‘imaginary’ struggle

‘Jacob wrestling with the angel’ by Gustave Doré, 1855

Feature | By Emma Pavey | Sep 20, 2017

“The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids and his 11 children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Readers Write: September 25, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Sep 20, 2017 | 1 comment

Watson’s wisdom is ‘a pernicious fable’

Re: “Wisdom, where art thou?" (Pt. 10), July 24, page 13.

A huge challenge

Willard Metzger
Viewpoints | By Willard Metzger | Sep 20, 2017

It’s a big year for Lutherans—the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. So it struck me as significant that I was invited to present a sermon and serve communion alongside a synod bishop at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s national convention in July.

Paddling down the river

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Sep 20, 2017

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my husband and I canoed on our neighborhood river. Due to extremely low water levels, the first stretch was quite challenging, not unlike some stretches of marriage. This was abundantly clear when the stern yelled, “Draw!” and the bow replied, “What’s a draw?” Immediately after, the canoe lodged on a rock.

Getting stuck happens in marriages also. Sometimes we get stuck in sweet places, in a smooth rhythm, in a happy team. Sometimes we get stuck in rocky places, in barren patches and protracted conflicts.