Parting thoughts


October 26, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 22
Virginia A. Hostetler | Executive Editor
Virginia A. Hostetler (second from left) at work in the CM office in 2017 with publisher Tobi Thiessen, editorial assistant Barb Draper and managing editor Ross W. Muir. (CM file photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

My adventure with Canadian Mennonite began in October 2013, when I stepped into the newly created role of web editor. In March 2017, I became executive editor, teaming up with Tobi Thiessen, who began as publisher.

Thinking back over the past nine years, I’m considering some lessons learned along the way. There were the basics: navigating the back end of a website, writing social media posts, understanding analytics of reader engagement. I’ve learned to survive in a lifestyle of deadlines every two weeks, not always liking it but committed to the discipline of that pattern. And the discovery that I’m more of an introvert than I thought—it hasn’t always been easy to put my thoughts out there for all to read.

There was continuous learning about Mennonite Church Canada: its history, geography and people, the way the denomination functions and the issues it faced during my tenure here. A church that is alive is constantly being stretched, changing and re-inventing itself. In helping to tell the story of MC Canada, I’ve witnessed the challenges and conflict that come with growth, for individuals, congregations and organizations. And, of course, the blessings.

Many times, I’ve been reminded of the responsibility that comes with the enterprise such as a church publication. The aims are always for accuracy, fairness, balance. How does one tell the story well of a nationwide church and the individuals that make up that body? I am thankful for your affirmations and for the awards this magazine has won. Yet, sometimes our best efforts have failed. This publication’s goal is to be a place where many voices are heard. But, in spite of CM’s commitment to reflect the many and varied perspectives present in the wider church family, we have not told enough of its diverse stories. As MC Canada works to become more intercultural and inclusive, so must its communications. There are still many more stories and opinions to share.

One surprise for me along the way: People have different definitions of what “Mennonite” means. For some it is enough to have ancestors with a last name that is considered Mennonite. For some, being Mennonite means sharing a certain background and culture. For others, being Mennonite involves a choice for a way of believing and living out one’s faith, regardless of one’s culture or last name. Some fight to leave Mennonite ways behind; others are attracted to them.

Over the past nine years, I’ve been inspired by the many dedicated volunteers who make up the nationwide church, each serving God in their own way. CM has told stories of people who contribute week after week to the ministry of their congregations, who serve on boards, sponsor refugees, raise funds, help in thrift stores, volunteer in their communities, and more. It has been an honour to bring your stories to light.

Behind the scenes, publishing is a team effort. In my time here, I have witnessed the professionalism and dedication of the people who make up the CM team. Our anniversary issue highlighted some past team members, and you can see the names of the current staff on the masthead and on our “Contact us” webpage. The list is long of the skills and life experiences that each one brings to the magazine. I have greatly appreciated their instincts and their insights, shared on behalf of the effort that is Canadian Mennonite.

Through it all, my experience here has continued to confirm the value of a good story, to offer insight, to make connections between people, to inspire and to point to new ways of living as a child of God in the world.

The world is hungry for good news—not a sugarcoated reality, but the stories of people who share God’s love in hard realities and who find purpose and meaning in spite of the difficulties that come their way. My hope is that CM will continue to share such stories.

As the editorial baton is passed on to Will Braun, the next editor, I cheer for the ongoing efforts of Canadian Mennonite. I offer prayers of thanksgiving and encouragement to the nationwide family that is MC Canada. May you live—and tell—many more stories of God’s presence among us.

Read more editorials:
Three questions about content
Giving thanks for 25 years
Change ahead
Senses open new doors
‘We Declare’ and beyond

Virginia A. Hostetler (second from left) at work in the CM office in 2017 with publisher Tobi Thiessen, editorial assistant Barb Draper and managing editor Ross W. Muir. (CM file photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

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