MC Canada executive ministers release statement on ‘freedom rallies’
The day after thousands of truckers and other protesters converged on Parliament Hill in late January to call for an end to COVID-19 mandates and other public health restrictions, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive ministers released a statement decrying the white nationalism being expressed at related protests that are springing up across the country. It reads as follows:
“As leaders within Mennonite Church Canada, we unequivocally denounce the symbols, words and actions of white nationalism being expressed in Ottawa and across the country at “freedom rallies.”
“While we support the right of people to gather peacefully in protest of government laws perceived to be unjust, we cannot support any action that promotes anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or racism.
“Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves as an expression of our love for God (Mark 12:29-31), across categories of race, ethnicity, religion and gender (Luke 10:25-37; Galatians 3:28). We call on all Christians to walk in Jesus’ way of love.
“ ‘Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:4-5).”
—Doug Klassen, Executive minister, MC Canada; Garry Janzen, Executive minister, MC British Columbia; Michael Pahl, Executive minister, MC Manitoba; Leah Reesor-Keller, Executive minister, MC Eastern Canada; Josh Wallace, Interim executive minister, MC Saskatchewan; Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Executive minister, MC Alberta
Love your neighbour during a climate crisis
Re: Climate-change vision must develop and strengthen,” Jan. 24, page 13.
I’m glad that Andre Wiederkehr is disturbed and moved by the climate crisis, and ready to get to work in his own backyard.
He makes a mistake, however, when he positions this necessary work as the antithesis of political action.
When the pandemic hit, all of us cared for each other by staying home. But that wouldn’t have worked without the federal government’s emergency response benefit, provincial governments’ investments in medical systems, or the vast co-operation of governments, corporations, non-profits and civil society required to distribute millions of doses of a life-saving vaccine.
The climate crisis is a collective problem that requires collective action. Two-thirds of our carbon emissions come from industry. Less than a third comes from personal use. Even if each of us transformed our homes and habits tomorrow, it wouldn’t be enough.
We need a just transition that centres the concerns of Indigenous people and workers in the energy sector. This will require energy rebate programs so people can afford to retrofit their homes, better public transit systems so people don’t have to drive, and winding down the fossil-fuel industry. This is the work of federal, provincial and municipal governments.
It’s time for Mennonites to raise our voices in the political sphere to pressure our governments to act.
We must write letters to our elected representatives—as thousands did in support of Bill C-262. We must put up signs—as churches did when they pressured governments to address the injustice of Winnipeg’s water supply. We must march in the streets, as civil rights activists did to demand desegregation.
Here’s an opportunity: March 12 has been declared a nationwide day of action to call for a “just transition” (https://bit.ly/34tTfkW). Find an action near you to attend.
This is what it means to love our neighbour.
—Josiah Neufeld, Winnipeg
A good reminder that God is with us
Re: “She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes,” Jan. 10, page 12.
I want to thank Troy Watson for his thoughtful comments in this column. It was so reassuring that God will be present even when we don’t feel the presence. At times of great stress in my life I wondered if God was with me.
Watson and our pastors at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon remind me that God is indeed with me.
—Barbara Ens, Saskatoon
Books are a ‘thrift’ item that can keep on giving
Re: “Book club continues during pandemic,” Jan. 24, page 38.
Reading books is a wonderful way to spend time and experience new worlds. And book clubs are a way to make new friends and find different books to read.
This article stood out to me for a variety of reasons.
One is that my husband Laur and I had just finished a shift of volunteering at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Store on Grantham Ave. in St. Catharines, Ont., where they have a wonderful selection of books.
And I just got an email from MCC Thrift that mentions how buying books at MCC helps us to meet our goals of reading more. And you don’t have to figure out what to do with these books after you’ve read them; you can “re-donate” them to MCC Thrift.
—Jan Carrie Steven, St. Catharines, Ont.
The writer attends Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines.
Can we learn to share?
Re: “CPT is now Community Peacemaker Teams,” Feb. 7, page 25.
For something to be ours, it doesn’t have to be only ours. Ours is not always about ownership. Sometimes it is about love, connection and belonging.
As sponsors, Mennonite Church U.S.A. and MC Canada are something like two of CPT’s parents. For 35 years our church has gladly, and usually proudly, said, “Yes, CPT is ours.” That has strengthened CPT, and CPT has ministered to the church in liberating love all this time, too.
Thankfully, our denominations and CPT have grown in faithfulness, and especially in dismantling oppression. Following the lead of the teams of peacemakers in such challenging and diverse settings, one of the places that journey has taken CPT is to broaden membership to include people of other faiths and spiritualities in addition to Christians. That change brought more growth.
The Christian Peacemaker Teams name no longer fits because it is no longer only ours. The “Christian” in the name oppresses and “invisiblizes” some of the beloved CPTers who struggle for peace with us.
So CPT is now renamed Community Peacemaker Teams. It is still CPT, still faithful and faith-filled peacemaking.
CPT is still ours. And it is not ours only. CPT also deeply belongs to other communities. And that is something to celebrate.
If our parents, our preschool teachers, our children and the gospel of Jesus Christ haven’t yet taught us to share, it’s time. CPT has not left us. Let’s not leave CPT.
—Carol Rose, Tucson, Ariz.
The writer is a CPT reservist, a former CPT director, and co-pastor of Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Tucson.