Readers write: June 16, 2023 issue

June 15, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 12
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Springfield Heights process flawed
I want to thank Canadian Mennonite for the report on Carman Mennonite Church and Springfield Heights Mennonite Church leaving Mennonite Church Manitoba (“Two congregations withdraw from MC Manitoba,” May 5). As a member of Springfield Heights, I would like to point out and add that I was extremely saddened and disappointed regarding the meeting at which the final decision was made and how it unfolded.

The only question at that meeting seemed to be: Why do we need the conference? Only one outside speaker was brought in and he provided insight to the ease of leaving the conference. It is very sad that my congregation has such a narrow view.

How many of our congregants were informed about what it means to be part of MC Manitoba and what they will be missing by leaving? These questions and concerns raise serious doubts as to my continued membership in the congregation.

I feel that more people should actually be aware of what actually went on at our church.
—Erika Marand, Winnipeg

Reconciliation and repair
How do we as Mennonites prepare ourselves for the next step in reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours: repair?

Buried in the Euro-Mennonite historical narrative is the spectre of violence. Wherever Euro-Mennonites have sought refuge they have built their communities and prosperity on the shattered homes, cultures and lives of Indigenous populations. Russia, Paraguay, the U.S. and Canada are graphic examples of how Mennonites have profited from the spoils of violent settler colonial conquests.

Mennonite identity harbours the oppressive manifestation of this violence enshrined in privelegiums negotiated with their colonizing hosts.

How can the incongruity between Mennonite Anabaptist beliefs and lived experience be understood and remedied? Mennonite self-definition is defensive of its Anabaptist roots while at the same time exhibiting signs of amnesia, compromise, willful blindness, racism, duplicity and transparent self-interest. Mennonites have sinned against God and their Indigenous neighbours.

To undo this contradiction requires a retrieval of its Anabaptist character through repentance and “bearing the fruits of repentance.”  Seeking forgiveness, making apologies and offering land acknowledgements are symbolic steps leading to the true “fruits of repentance.” Those fruits would include justice throughs reparations, denouncing Mennonite unearned privilege and committing to solidarity with Indigenous neighbours in their struggle for respect, dignity and self-determination. This includes being generous in making reparations with the direction of Indigenous neighbours. Then we could enter into conciliation with our Indigenous neighbours with clean hands and open hearts.
—Johann Funk, Surrey, B.C. (Langley Mennonite Fellowship)

Memory lane
I found the article about the Armin String Quartet very interesting (“U2’s Mennonite string section,” May 5). I knew the Armins’ parents, Marta and James Jay. Marta lived in Chortitz, a village south of Winkler, Manitoba, where I lived too. James was teaching in Chortitz and all the girls had a crush on him.

He gave Marta violin lessons after school. They fell in love and got married in the Chortitz school when Marta was 17. I attended the wedding. However, Marta never learned to play the violin.
—Anne Thiessen, Winkler, Manitoba 


Online Feedback

Appreciating discomfort
I think the Canadian Mennonite is spot on when it makes everyone uncomfortable in some way (“Countering intuition,” June 2) because it is reflecting the diversity that exists in our congregations across the country. Discomfort is part of the process of really listening.
—Carol Penner, Vineland, Ontario (First Mennonite Church, Vineland)

Humble suggestion
I enjoyed your editorial (“Countering intuition,” June 2) but humbly suggest that in the long run you’ll have to leave it to readers to sort out the pros and cons of what you select to print. And by the looks of your letters column, there’s lively engagement in doing just that. Best to you!
—Dora Dueck, Delta, B.C.

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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