Readers write: July 4, 2016 issue

June 28, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 14

‘Testing,’ ‘nudging’ on sexual issues has already occurred

The Being a Faithful Church document being presented at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly recognizes that “we differ dramatically in our biblical interpretations,” and that we should “learn to honour those persons with whom we disagree.”

With “unity” and “diversity” in mind, one recommendation being presented is that parts of the body of MC Canada be allowed to “test alternative understandings from those of the larger body to see if they are a prophetic nudging of the Spirit of God.”

Making statements of inclusion, changing the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective or doing nothing at all could result in fracturing of the “body,” as we have already seen.

Will allowing “testing” and “spiritual nudging” help keep “unity?” Could it create “church shopping?” After discernment with “nudging” over “biblical interpretations,” will churches be allowed to make mission statements contrary to the Confession of Faith so church shoppers can find like-minded congregants, or will they keep a knowing silence as many do over remarriage of divorced people?

If a pastor feels spiritual nudging and performs a marriage of a same-sex couple, but the church has not felt this “nudging,” is that pastor subject to discipline? Or should the pastor refrain in the guise of honouring those who disagree?

This reminds me of the often-used term in these circumstances: “Who am I to judge?” Although this sentiment is worthy and even scripturally sound, it’s missing something. It implies that judgment still needs to come. It lacks compassion, empathy and, most of all, it lacks reconciliation.

Will newly autonomous churches “come out” and state that “spiritual nudging” has occurred and that they have discerned biblical interpretations that use history, modern science, sociology and psychology, along with Christ-like love, compassion, empathy and inclusion? It’s taken so very long, but “testing” and “nudging” has all ready occurred.

Dennis Wiens, Leamington, Ont.


‘Little to fear’ about same-sex inclusion in the church

Re: “Recommendation of same-sex inclusion will lead to exodus” letter, June 6, page 7.

It has been our privilege over the years to include in our friendship circle friends from the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer community. It has enriched our lives.

It is with sorrow and dismay, then, that we read about folk wanting to “run” from Mennonite Church Canada or to suggest an “exodus” when we talk about same-sex inclusion. In our experience, there is little to fear about inclusion. The church has an opportunity to love “our neighbours,” an opportunity we should approach with kindness and compassion. Running away from complex issues is not the answer.

We need each other to work at our various perspectives, and we need time.

Walter and Mabel Paetkau, Abbotsford, B.C.


Work together on sexuality differences, don’t run away

Re: “Recommendation of same-sex inclusion will lead to exodus” letter, June 6, page 7.

I am disturbed by the letters calling for—or at least predicting—the “mass exodus” of members and congregations if the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) recommendation to “create space/leave room within our body for alternative understandings [of same sex issues]” passes at the July assembly in Saskatoon.

Many of us in Mennonite Church Canada have long been opposed to Article 19 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. We want to see parts of it removed, and have long hoped for a clear statement of affirmation of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) members in our denomination.

The BFC resolution proposes neither. Yet we have remained—and plan to remain—as members of a denomination we love, even though it discriminates against a particular group of people. We have given of our time, financial resources and our hearts, even though in many ways to do so is in violation of our conscience. Now, on the eve of this resolution, at the first hint of compromise, some threaten to “run.”

Letter writer Rudy Kasdorf points out that some churches have already left MC Canada because they are opposed to even the possibility of a more-inclusive church. I wonder if he knows or cares that many LGBTQ members and their friends have also left the Mennonite church, or just avoided joining. Is there any concern for them, or for those who haven’t run despite feeling deeply conflicted? We must work together for a way forward, avoiding threats and ultimatums.

Jan Schroeder, Ottawa


Canadian Mennonite lauded for publishing review and ensuing critique

Re: “Intent of Star Wars review is to criticize culture of violence” letter, May 23, page 11.

I appreciated Vic Thiessen’s kind response and explanation to Bev Hunsberger’s letter to the editor (“Star Wars review promotes violence against women,” April 11, page 11) regarding his review (“Hollywood feminism and the decline of cinema,” Feb. 29, page 21). I’ve seen the film and share Thiessen’s views. As a male and former soldier, I know what soldiers are expected to do.

When I read Hunsberger’s response, I was somewhat surprised that she thought it “promotes violence against women.” I tried to follow her train of thought in order to understand what she had drawn out of the review, and I could not come to the same conclusion.

I contemplated her somewhat strong response and wondered if we are super-sensitive and easily offended if someone speaks or writes what is on his or her mind without the intent to offend anyone, especially if the statement is excerpted from its context. Are women and men confident enough with a healthy self-esteem that we can accept, perhaps even respect, someone else’s opinion even if it differs from our views?

To request that someone apologize, as Hunsberger suggested to Thiessen and Dick Benner, Canadian Mennonite’s editor, would require that they recognize their fault and repent; otherwise, the apology is only a formality and does not solve much. Instead of  reprimanding Benner for publishing Thiessen’s review, I commend him for publishing Hunsberger’s sharp criticism of him.

I hope Canadian Mennonite will continue to publish what readers think and feel, even if articles are sometimes controversial.

Helmut Lemke, Vancouver


Where are the non-white MC Canada pastors who need to be heard?

Re: “Prayer of preparation for Assembly 2016,” June 6, page 5.

I said a loud and sincere “Amen” to your prayer, especially the portion: “Together we confess that some of us hold power over others—implicitly or explicitly—due to race, gender, orientation or economic means. We lament the stories left unheard and absent in our gatherings. We forget that we are all part of your collective body that knows no borders or division.”

But then I noticed that you all are white young Mennonite Church Canada pastors. Where is the voice of the young Chinese Mennonite pastor or leader, the Korean Mennonite pastor or leader, the first nation Mennonite church pastor or leader, and other important segments of our church whose voices need to be heard?

Daniel Pantoja (online comment)

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