Readers write: February 3, 2020 issue

January 29, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 3
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Old photo brings back ‘fond memories’
Re:Moment from yesterday” photo of the Rosengart church in Poland.

The picture brought fond memories back. It was my home church. I was baptized in it. I think the church was the only Mennonite church with a separate bell tower. I once pulled the rope in it to get the bells swinging and ringing.

The last leader was Ältester Heinrich Wiehler, a relative of mine.

The final Mennonite service was held for a small six-person congregation by Elder Cornelius Dirksen in August 1945. Russian occupation soldiers interrupted our service and a drunken Russian harassed him, pulling his beard and pushing him around. He had stayed behind in Prussia to care for the scattered Mennonites who did not succeed in fleeing from the Russians during the Second World War.

The church is now an active Polish Catholic church. The Polish priest and mayor let us conduct a short service in the church during a visit in 1999, singing as in olden times our favourite hymns. They still do this.

Frank Wiehler, a retired assistant of the European parliament, is now in contact with the Polish church in Rosengart and arranges visits for Mennonites who are interested in Prussian Mennonite history. He also cares for graves and tombstones of former congregational members buried in the cemetery.

—Helmut Lemke, Vancouver


Intervention not a substitute for belonging
Re:Empower children…end poverty,” Dec. 9, 2019, page 4.

Thank you to Derek Cook for the timely and passionate plea to end poverty, and thank you to Canadian Mennonite for making it your feature.

Cook covers a lot of ground about the state of Canadian and world poverty and the potential solutions. He mentions that “one of the important aspects of child poverty is that it disrupts what should be healthy dependent relationships.” I agree. As a foster and adoptive parent (with Dina) and with involvement with housing and related social programs, I have come to realize that, in spite of massive government intervention, including money, programs and people, we seemingly can’t get our collective heads around the fact that intervention is not a substitute for belonging. Shelter, food and a social worker are not enough. 

A recent Vancouver Foundation study on youths who had aged out of care asked the youths whether or not they had a “significant other” in their lives. Shockingly, more than 70 percent said “no.” This should bring us to tears! Maybe this is what Jesus was talking about.

We forget that of all of God’s creatures, we are the smartest and most curious but the least successful at growing up without family!

—Peter Dueck, Vancouver


MCC leaders pen letter to their Iranian friends

We write to you in solidarity and friendship at a time of great military tension. With the biblical prophet, we lament that “destruction and violence are before [us]; strife and contention arise” (Habakkuk 1:3, NRSV). As followers of Jesus, we are deeply committed to peace.

Since 1990, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) staff and friends have been privileged to enter with you and other Iranians into spaces of dialogue, learning and friendship. Over the years, our understanding and commitment to the gospel have been deepened by conversations with you about theology and faith. MCC staff have seen first-hand the beauty and richness of your ancient culture. 

Throughout all these years, there has also been strife and tension between the governments of the United States and Iran, which now have reached an unprecedented level. Our hearts are deeply troubled by the aggressive actions taken by the U.S. government and the potential for this to continue to escalate into further violence. We recognize the fear and grief this is causing for many Iranian families across the globe.

We continue to pray and work fervently for peace and understanding between our countries and peoples. We are actively encouraging actions that take us away from violence and toward a negotiated peace. We know that our well-being is inseparable from yours.

“Human beings are members of one another / All created from the same precious jewel. / When, in the course of life, / Pain comes to a member, / The other members cannot remain at peace. / When you do not grieve at the suffering of others / You cannot be called by the name ‘human’ ” (Persian poet Sa’adi Shirzai, 1210-91).

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. . . . If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:15-16, 18).

In faith and hope for a more peaceful future.

—J. Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director
—Rick Cober Bauman, MCC Canada executive director

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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