Irene Klassen is pictured touring a sawmill at LaCrete, Alta., in September 2003, when the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta meeting was held in the northern Alberta town. The trip was almost a thousand kilometres, so it took a long day to get there. Participants were provided with a tour of the LaCrete Mennonite Heritage Village, the Heimstaed Lodge for seniors, and the sawmill.
When Susanna Toews arrived in Litzmannstadt, Poland, in 1944, she was already a member of the Nazi racial elite. Her native village in Ukraine had come under German occupation in 1941 with Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. During the intervening two-and-a-half years, the young Mennonite woman became a beneficiary of racial warfare.
As parents, you hope that you have done all that you can to nurture and encourage your children on their faith journey, and yet there is that inner voice telling you that you might not have done quite enough. Maybe you could have read more Bible stories when they were children. Maybe you should have prayed together more as a family.
One thing became very clear during the Future Directions Task Force conversation: In the imagination of most of us, Mennonite Church Canada is an “it” or a “they.” Currently, we experience the larger denomination—including the area churches—as an entity apart or distinct from the local congregation.
I have always been part of the Mennonite world, having been called to Jesus Christ in my early years; active in the fellowship of the church throughout my youth; and trained by the church through Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, N.Y.
In a recent Bible study, we were looking at John 20 where Jesus appeared to the disciples. Gathered behind locked doors, Jesus appeared in the midst of them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he did an amazing thing. He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
A long time ago, my high school physics teacher defined work as moving something from one place to another. “You could work all day trying to move a boulder,” he expanded, “and if you hadn’t actually shifted the position of the boulder, technically speaking, you wouldn’t have worked.” His definition left its mark on my teenage brain.
Alexander Fast (1888-1942), front row right, and his second wife Selinde Fast (1894-1973) fled to Germany from Russia during the Russian Revolution and were immigrants to Canada in 1928. In this photo, taken in 1933, they are at the Winnipeg train station with friend C.F. Klassen (behind Alexander), leaving for British Columbia.
In an article entitled “Has militant atheism become a religion?” published on Salon.com (March 24, 2013), primatologist Frans de Waal writes, “In my interactions with religious and nonreligious people alike, I now draw a sharp line, based not on what exactly they believe but on their level of dogmatism. I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion . . . .”
Mennonites are blessed with traditions and aspirations that many admire: nonviolent peacemaking, mutual aid, voluntarism, relief efforts, generosity and so on. But these values alone do not inherently communicate the one whose name we bear as Christians.
“Don’t cry over spilled milk.” This little English phrase must have been coined by a parent watching her child pour milk into a cup. When our emerging independence turns to “needing” to pour our own milk, a parent can only watch with horror. The cup is off-centre, the pitcher trembles, and the liquid is like a tsunami bursting onto a beach.
In 1963, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches held its annual convention in Herbert, Sask. Here, dishes were washed by hand and, of course, re-used as other delegates waited in line.
During the Second World War, guided by the leadership of Pastor André Trocmé, the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and surrounding regions hid Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis.
I am writing this column on Mother’s Day weekend. As I weed flowerbeds, memories of my hardworking mothers and their gardens dance in my head. Gram Miller—Anna Estelle—grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, in a large family that was intimately acquainted with poverty. Growing food was necessary for survival.
May. It’s the time of year when many of us who have, or aspire to have, a green thumb turn our minds to gardening. Some may have already been nursing self-propagated seedlings for weeks, waiting for the right time to transplant them outside. Others make the trip to the local garden centre for flower or vegetable seedlings.
This is a photo of the privately run Mennonite school in Neu Kronsthal, Man. John Kroeker (1910-82) is front row far right, and his brother Klaas Kroeker (1907-92) stands behind him. Mennonites coming from Russia in the 1870s were promised freedom of education as well as freedom of religion, believing it was the role of the church and family to educate children, not the state.
The first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once said, “I always tried to be correct, not politically correct.”
Sometimes the pursuit of political correctness and the pursuit of truth are at odds with one another.
Tell the whole Mennonite story
Re: “People of the plains,” March 14, page 12.
“What is it with Mennonites and flat surroundings?” Bill Schroeder asks. But we also need to ask, “What is it with Mennonites and hilly country?”
Bridges are an important part of life in British Columbia. Whether it is the new Port Mann Bridge or any other crossing of our many rivers, bridges are a part of our lives. In Mennonite Church B.C., we are also in the business of building bridges.
How does the body of Christ maintain her mental health?
We often think about the church as the body of Christ functioning like a human body. In I Corinthians 12, we consider what it means to be a Jesus-centred community in which each part is honoured and each part does its work.
I haven’t been to the dump before. The route is unfamiliar. My father-in-law and I drive east, now on the outskirts of Regina, and eventually pass the oil refinery, a mammoth mess of tangled pipes behind a sea of parked trucks.
Naomi Martin holds a book belonging to her late husband, Bishop J.B. Martin, at the family home in 1975. Archivists Lorna Bergey and Sam Steiner look on as she prepares to donate his books and papers to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. J.B.