Story, photo stir up personal memories
I read the Henry Dueck obituary (Nov. 15, 2010, page 25) with personal interest. Henry and Helga served the Eben-Ezer congregation and we had fine fellowship as fellow pastors. The “last altester” reference made me smile; I am not in that category but I knew all those mentioned in the Jan. 10 correction.
My response to the Jan. 10 “Soup in a jar” cover photo was emotional. My mother spent umpteen hours cooking borscht and blessing us with her love and labour. Henry’s mother also came to mind, who, like my mother, was also a member of Eden Mennonite, Chilliwack, B.C. Both mothers thought their sons couldn’t do anything wrong!
Henry’s mother tried, with all sincerity, to remind, correct and admonish me to take to heart her son’s model life as a pastor. I wonder if acquaintances on earth become friends in heaven.
—Dietrich Rempel, Abbotsford, B.C.
Egyptian revolution mirrors Radical Reformation
Watching events in Egypt unfold on Feb. 12, I am struck by the extent to which the natural human soul desperately yearns, and even needs, the elements of honest expression and freedom to survive and grow with respect and self-esteem. The revolution is a secular uprising from the bottom up, and includes all levels and segments of Egyptian society. It has a spontaneity and power that one of the best-equipped and -trained militaries in the Middle East did not dare to challenge—in fact, could not challenge.
As a privileged inheritor of Anabaptist DNA with deep pacifistic beliefs, I sit in awe and deep gratitude to be able to witness this event. It validates the passion and conviction that started our ancestors back in the Radical Reformation on the road to a posture and belief system that is more powerful than any man-made institution can contain. We should wear this badge with great pride and responsibility, and appreciate how really natural this impulse is to the evolved human condition.
Richard Penner, Calgary, Alta.
The church needs an ‘integrated calling’ of spiritual and secular
Thank you to Joe Neufeld for writing “Building up God’s kingdom together,” Jan. 24, page 4.
Neufeld tackles a subject I believe we have talked about much too little in our churches and in our schools. The relationship of the social and behavioural sciences to our theological discussions needs much more attention. As he says, most people are not preoccupied by beliefs as much as by their everyday predicaments in their family, job or leisure.
We have too easily separated life into so-called “secular” and “spiritual.” And in that way we have often failed to provide social and behavioural resources to our congregations. We readily send them to “secular” professionals if the need becomes too great.
I like Neufeld’s concept of an “integrated calling.” It seems clear to me that this is what the Christian faith is all about. That is what I understand Menno Simons to call for in his famous “true evangelical faith” statement.
In building up a church for the future, I hope we can have much more dialogue about our faith and our relationship to the socio-psychological matters we all relate to somehow.
Bernie Wiebe, Winnipeg, Man.
Assembly 2011 addresses psycho/social/spiritual topics
Thank you so much for the “Building up God’s kingdom together feature,” Jan. 24, page 4.
The church at all levels needs help to better address and respond to issues of mental health. I loudly echo Joe Neufeld’s call to erase the lines between secular and social gifts, and integrate the gifts of all in the mission of “engaging the world with the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Neufeld recognizes that Mennonite Church Canada assembly themes tend to be more theological than psycho/social/spiritual, and challenges the church not to “ ‘theologize’ serious behavioural problems without critical diagnosis.” This is an important word, and well worth reflecting on deeply. While this year’s assembly theme, “It’s epic: Remembering God’s future,” is again fairly theological, it has a holistic scope.
The extensive list of seminars being prepared for this assembly includes many topics the youth assembly planning team said mattered to it, and youths are not bound by the categories of “sacred” and “secular” that Neufeld challenges. Some of the seminars that respond to the psycho/social/spiritual aspects of our lives include: “Life flows on: Church, families and mental illness,” “Challenging gender stereotypes,” “Forgiveness: A long road,” and “Sex and the sanctuary.”
The topics Neufeld addresses are important for the health of the church. We need the wisdom and active engagement of all to partner with God as agents of reconciliation in our world.
Elsie Rempel, Winnipeg, Man.
Elsie Rempel is director of Christian nurture and assembly seminar coordinator for Mennonite Church Canada.
Christians are ‘commissioned’ to convert others
Re: “Don’t just hand out the Bible,” Feb. 21, page 27.
It’s very disturbing to read that a former pastor (Mennonite or not) finds it offensive to try to “sway” people to become Christians. Jesus’ own words in John 14:6—”I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me”—make it plain that unless people recognize Jesus as their personal Saviour, they have no hope of spending eternity in heaven. Jesus also gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20a: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” It is hard to understand how the community in which we live could change the meaning of these words of the Lord.
Surely, we need to respect people of different faiths and treat them like we would like to be treated; however, we still need to stand on what the Bible proclaims. Ezekiel 3:17-18 gives us this warning: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin and I will hold you accountable for his blood.”
As Christians, we have a great responsibility to spread the good news of God’s love that he lavished on us, in that “he gave us his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We are living in a world where truth has become something that is up to each individual, but this is a very dangerous way to live in light of our access to God’s Word. It seems that if we disagree with someone, then we must “fear” them and what they believe. This is not so. God is asking us to stand and proclaim his good news to everyone; in fact, he demands it.
Murray Gerber, Brunner, Ont.
Visit to Sam’s place leaves customer ‘surprised’
Your “A new direction for Sam’s Place” report, Feb. 7, page 19, was very timely. The issue arrived the Monday after we had been to Sam’s Place on Feb. 19.
What was our experience there? We arrived, a party of six, at about 11 a.m. We asked for coffee and were served promptly. We were a bit surprised to find that coffee is $2.50 per cup. We had planned to stay for lunch, but were informed that the person responsible for lunch was not expected to come in that day.
I browsed the bookshelves and was surprised to find that Bibles were priced at $3 and up. At the thrift store where I volunteer, the policy is to make Bibles and Christian literature generally available free of charge.
I was surprised again when I found a book by Evelyn Jacks, a tax advisor, priced at $3, as this book of tax advice was based on the 2001 federal budget.
One paperback romance novel I checked out was priced at $2; at the thrift store they are sold for 50 cents.
Finally, I note that Brad Reimer, coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba’s resource generation team, is quoted as saying that it costs MCC up to $1,500 per month—$18,000 per year—to keep Sam’s Place open.
Jim Suderman, Winnipeg, Man.
MCC ‘divorce’ a cause for confession, remorse
I continue to be troubled of spirit about the decision of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to a Canadian-U.S. divorce—amicable separation?—after 90 years of marriage. I am troubled because I hear no voices of repentance over this severing of Mennonite programs into Canadian and U.S. parts. No voices of confession, remorse, sorrow.
My memories of MCC are rooted in my boyhood in the 1920s, when MCC’s transnational identity inspired in me a deep sense of satisfaction in being Mennonite.
I now feel silenced by my born-and-bred U.S. Mennonite identity in speaking in protest against severing the bonds of what for me has been a cherished binational union. Despite my stance of being critical of American imperial arrogance and control, I sense I cannot divest myself of the taint of my American-ness. South of the 49th parallel, I yearn for a Mennonite confessional event in which we voice our sorrow over the impending dismembering, and stand open to instruction and correction where we have offended and have been insensitive in working with our Canadian brothers and sisters.
In the meantime, I am heartened by the decision of representatives of Mennonite World Conference (MWC), who chose to not join hands with MCC in managing a revised MCC global structure. MWC has nurturing and caring relationships that should not be compromised by issues of control, representation, budgets and power.
There must be those who concur with me on the above thoughts. MCC has just celebrated its 90th year. Are there others who would wish to join now in an event of gratitude for an MCC past, contrition for an MCC divided, and hope for an MCC renewed?
Robert Kreider, North Newton, Kan.
God asks for ‘our whole selves,’ including our money
Re: “Why give?”, Feb. 7, page 9.
Dori Zerbe Cornelsen made some very good points in her “God, Money and Me” column, especially the part where she said, “God asks for our whole selves.” Shouldn’t the column then be called “God, Me and Money”? Has money become a “pretty/ugly altar” (a reference to the page 4 feature about beauty and ugliness, “Breaking down the pretty/ugly altars”)?
Marlene Hiebert, Blumenort, Man.