In conversation


January 16, 2019 | Editorial | Volume 23 Issue 2
Virginia A. Hostetler | Executive Editor

What are Mennonites talking about? As a national publication, Canadian Mennonite pays attention to the issues that matter to readers far and near. Here are some topics that emerged in 2018. 

In the spring, attention was on the protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline in B.C., particularly the involvement of Mennonite Church Canada’s Steve Heinrichs. We covered both his arrest and his sentencing, and we published letters responding to his stance. Some Alberta pastors weighed in with opinions at the “other end of the pipeline.”

How involved were Mennonites in the Nazi ideology and actions? Last year, CM reported on a conference on Mennonites and the Holocaust and carried a report of an eyewitness to the Nazi occupation. Readers weighed in, offering online comments to these and older reports on the same topic. It is no surprise that their responses show that Mennonites view history from several differing perspectives.

The subject of sexual misconduct in Mennonite congregations and institutions gained attention this past year, with viewpoints and reports on the #ChurchToo topic. Our report on alleged sexual abuse at a Mennonite camp drew both criticism and praise.

In the fall, senior writer Will Braun wrote “Modern ghosts of a horse-drawn scandal,” a four-part series on the so-called “ghost rapes” among Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia. He considered the stance of their more “progressive” North American cousins and looked at the recent Miriam Toews novel, Women Talking. Web-only content led to online conversation.

We expect that new ways will emerge for how communications happens across the church, and we are exploring how CM can continue facilitating the conversation. In 2019 and beyond, we will continue covering these larger stories and others that none of us can yet anticipate. What are Mennonites talking about in your circles? How are these conversations happening?

New roles, familiar faces
As our staff prepares the print version of CM, we are aware of—and grateful for—the loyal readers who hold the magazine in their hands, picking and choosing which articles to read. (Hurray to those of you who read it all!) Your thoughtful letters add to the dialogue.

At the same time, we’re challenged to consider other venues where Mennonites are reading and conversing. Unfortunately, most of our staff can’t sit down for a chat in your local coffee shop, but we know CM content is showing up on your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Followers of CM across Canada and beyond are accessing articles and opinions on mobile phones, tablets and computer screens. 

As publisher Tobi Thiessen has said, we see a place for CM in the larger digital world, to “actively encourage and moderate conversations about faith and life” in social media and through CM’s web presence.

So we introduce a new position—online media manager—and the person who will fill that role, Aaron Epp. He first began in 2007 as CM’s national correspondent. After two years, he left for other journalistic endeavours, but returned in 2013 as co-editor of the Young Voices section, where he faithfully helped younger Mennonites tell their stories and share their projects and dreams. He lives in Winnipeg, where he has been working part-time at Canadian Mennonite University and writing a column for the Winnipeg Free Press. He begins in this full-time position at the end of January, so watch for his online presence.

In the Jan. 7 issue, we announced the discontinuation of the Young Voices section along with CM’s intention to keep building connections with younger readers. Starting in mid-January, Rachel Bergen takes on the new part-time role of contributing editor, with responsibility for finding and telling the type of content that formerly appeared in Young Voices. She first came to CM as national correspondent and was involved in the early days of YV nine years ago. She left in 2015 to pursue other journalistic opportunities, including writing for Mennonite Central Committee and CBC. She lives in Thompson, Man. 

We see great potential for both these roles and look forward to the future contributions of Rachel and Aaron. Feel free to connect with them; their email addresses are on page 3. 

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