As I write this last editorial of 2012, I am overcome with gratitude.
First to my hardworking staff here in Waterloo I owe a big “thank you.” They closed the gap handily with one person short for the past five months while our managing editor, Ross Muir, took a five-month sabbatical. Barb Draper, our assistant editor, rose competently to the challenge, editing and placing stories, with never a complaint and always in good spirits.
Dan Johnson, our graphic designer, never failed us in using his visual imagination in designing pages from a rougher sketch than that to which he was accustomed, and marched the paper through production without a ripple. Sometimes our copyediting and proofreading could have come under heavier scrutiny, but overall the stories were presented in readable fashion.
Lisa Jacky, in circulation and finance, kept on top of address changes and worked through our government grant application as usual and our fall fund drive has moved apace as if we were at full staff strength.
Graeme Stemp-Morlock, our advertising representative, has sustained our ad dollar support and has come up with new ideas for increasing revenue at that level of our operation. Our regional correspondents have adjusted well to less direction from the home office in choosing stories and deciding on assignments and worked well with me in directing those biweekly choices. Emily Loewen and Rachel Bergen, our Young Voices co-editors, were diligent and collaborative in choosing features and stories for their section of the publication.
And while there have been some tense moments such as receiving a “reminder” from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding “partisan” political comment in some editorials and stories, the executive committee of Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service has been wonderfully supportive and affirming through it all, checking in with their wisdom and encouraging me to take the story to our readers, in due time, so that you could be a part of the conversation this has engendered.
One of the marvellous outcomes of this issue has been the bonding of us as a faith community. Not only did I receive blessing and spiritual direction from the many denominational leaders I consulted in this matter, there has been a virtual outpouring of support, with few exceptions, from you as regular readers and subscribers to Canadian Mennonite. Just read the number of letters in this edition expressing passionately, in many cases, the encouragement to continue witnessing to our government in areas of justice that matter to us and that align themselves with our historic, core Anabaptist beliefs.
And while we didn’t market the story to the public media, it apparently touched a deep nerve in the Canadian psyche about the role of the church and its witness and the “chill” on the free press in the country’s fundamentally changed historic role as peacemaker at home and around the globe. Not planned or promoted by us, that unexpected response, nonetheless, was surprisingly reassuring and showed that we have many friends beyond our denominational borders.
Most of all, it raised awareness, in our own faith community, about the importance of our witness to peace and justice in our troubled world. Many of you making personal donations in our fall fund drive have articulated a sense of urgency in continuing a push for peace. New donors have come forward, such as this one who, along with his donation, wrote: "I don't think I have ever written a cheque to you directly. However, it burns me that you might not be able to express our faith freely due to the 'approach' of [our government]. Suddenly I realize that you matter. Thank you for this."
At a round-table discussion recently called by the Peace and Conflict department of Conrad Grebel University College on this story, one of the faculty leaders said the CRA incident presents an opportunity for us as a denomination to examine and discuss more fully our historic beliefs cited by the government in the areas of militarism, care for the poor and the stranger (immigrants) and care for creation.
These are heartening outcomes to a story that has grown legs far beyond my imagination as editor. While not everyone is happy with these responses, it has been a marvelous learning on a spiritual path that encounters some “ditches” along the way.