Integrity doesn’t hinge on the name ‘Mennonite’
Re: “ ‘Mennonite’ name should stay” letter, March 30, page 10.
My friend Albert Isaac used the former Niagara Credit Union as an example of what happens when you open the membership beyond just Mennonite, as the new proposal suggests for Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU). I would like to address a few errors in his letter:
- Niagara Credit Union (NCU) was founded in 1945 by 18 members, and the first board had five di-rectors, two of which were non-Mennonites. This was done intentionally to show that NCU was there for everyone, not just Mennonites. There is no doubt that in the early years the membership of NCU consisted of a high percentage of Mennonites, as was the area it served. These are the facts obtained directly from the founder, A.P. Regier, who was my father-in-law.
- Over time, NCU grew and amalgamated with several smaller credit unions and, in 2005, amalgamated with a credit union of almost equal size, taking on the name of Meridian Credit Union, with head offices in St Catharines, Ont.
I was privileged to serve as director of the original NCU and at the amalgamation of Meridian, and can assure readers that the integrity of the organization does not hinge on whether you are exclusively “Mennonite.”
Henry Koop, St. Catharines, Ont.
Credit union not a charitable institution
Re: “ ‘Mennonite’ credit union perceived as ‘exclusive’ ” letter by Brent Zorgdrager, April 27, page 11.
The letter speaks of the pressures in the financial marketplace and the need for growth of assets to make it possible for current and future generations “to live out their faith and values through their finances.”
I attended both meetings in Leamington mainly because I was concerned about the rumoured possibility of a name change.
At the last meeting it was said that this particular meeting was not about a name change, but rather about what we expected from our credit union and what we wanted it to look like in the future, but the elephant in the room was still the name change. Most credit unions are started by a group of people with a common purpose—usually to serve their particular needs and interests—and Mennonite Savings and Credit Union is no different.
I do not believe the founders intended it to serve as a charitable institution. I want our credit union to be a business-like financial institution. Its first priority should be to provide the services any other financial institution provides, look after our assets in a responsible way, invest wisely, maximize profit—not at any cost—with the best interest of its members as the guiding principle.
One of the reasons for founding a credit union is to have any benefits from the operation returned to its members and not to a group of shareholders. If in the process there are profits beyond those needed to operate, and perhaps realize a modest profit for its shareholders, then and only then should these funds be used for the benefit of the community and other worthwhile causes. If we as individuals wish to support charitable causes, we can do so; there is no lack of opportunity to do good in a broken world.
Ernie Neufeld, Leamington, Ont.
Fair trade book would have been better gift for former PM
Re: “MCC 50th full of historic symbolism,” May 11, page 14.
The selection of Joe Clark as keynote speaker at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba 50th anniversary, whose picture was on the front cover of the same issue, is undoing a lot of educational work being done by MCC’s Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) stores on the life-and-death difference between “fair trade” and “free trade” of food essentials. I speak of food/land essentials for indigenous people.
From 1984-91 Clark was the chief negotiator and co-creator of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was, and still is, considered a “death sentence” by the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico. In a desperate act of self-preservation, this indigenous group, impoverished and made vulnerable by 500 years of persecution, rose up in arms on NAFTA’s first day of implementation on Jan. 1, 1994.
If we truly believe in peace, then we must educate ourselves about the injustices that kill peace. A good place to start would be to go to a TTV store, buy the book No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade, and read the chapter on “The problem with free trade.” Perhaps this book should have been emblazoned with the MCC peace logo, and then given to Clark, instead of indigenous moccasins.
Boyd Reimer, Toronto
Unless they inquire, they will not be told
Re: “Growing Mennonite,” April 13, page 36.
The Young Voices article caught my special attention. Young people digging into an archive to find out where their roots are, is commendable. It means “growing up,” according to Cicero, who is quoted as saying: “Not knowing what happened before you were born means always to remain a child.”
There are some “walking archives” among us nonagenarians, and listening to their stories from the past is often more impressive than turning pages in an archive.
Some time ago when I asked my children to attend to some chores, I told them, “When I was your age, we had to do this or we were not allowed to do that.” The answer to those remarks was, “But that was a century ago, Grandpa. We are living now in the postmodern era.”
However, my daughter once replied, “Dad, what did you really do then? I would be interested in any detail how you lived without telephone, radio, TV and automobile, not to mention computer and iPhone. How did you experience living under a dictatorship and taking part in a war and post-war occupation?”
Once I sat around the fireplace with my son and his friends and told them my war stories. One of them said quite excitedly, “But Uncle Helmut, you have to write that down.” That stimulated me to write my memoir, Crossing Frontiers, to share with them my life.
I am sure many can tell similar very moving stories from past times that happened in different parts of the world. Some of these stories will be added to the archives and become accessible for researchers.
Helmut Lemke, Vancouver
Helmut Lemke is a member of Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship, Vancouver.
TRC helps us rethink evangelism?
The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Inquiry related to residential schools should likely bring us to contrition, reflection and a willingness to help heal the wounds.
We Mennonites might argue that our hands are clean; we did not operate any of the schools named. I’m not so sure. After all, not just the named churches did wrong but all Canadians who far too long have tolerated policies of paternalism, isolation and racism. And while we might argue that this was not “cultural genocide,” it was wrong.
Some may wish to reflect further; what went wrong? Well-meaning Christians tried to educate and “Christianize”! Has this not been the role of the church since the start? Maybe we need to rethink “evangelism”; is it cultural genocide?
Peter A. Dueck, Vancouver, BC
Reader responds to atheism feature, sexuality letter
I waited in vain for someone to respond to Robin Fast’s feature article, “Mennonite me,” April 27, page 4, claiming that he is a Mennonite and an atheist. Since Mennonites are a people who follow the teaching of Menno Simons, this, of course, is quite impossible.
In the May 11 letter, “Are sexuality debates ‘chasing after wind’?” on page 8, Harold Macy wonders why we don’t spend as much time and resources on unacceptable behaviour such as lust, gluttony, wrath, laziness, envy and pride as we do on non-traditional sexual issues. My answer would be that all Christians know that these are all are sins that we need to repent of and try to overcome with God’s help. No one is trying to convince anyone that that they are not sins.
Cornie Martens, Rabbit Lake, Sask.
Questions to consider about sex
Re: “Is gay celibacy a form of sexual abuse?” letter, April 27, page 8.
If one of Victor Fast’s parents developed Alzheimer's disease, which can render them incapable of having sex, would he expect the other parent to remain celibate, commit adultery, or divorce the spouse with dementia and have the opportunity to remarry again?
Some pregnant women cannot have sexual intercourse during their pregnancy. What should their husbands do?
What should spouses do when their spouse is paralyzed by illness or accident?
What about widows and widowers, or those sentenced to jail for many years?
Pedophiles are required by law not to act on their sexual desires. Is this a discriminatory policy that should be changed since no other adults are banned from acting on their sexual desires?
Should bisexual individuals be required to pick only one sex to marry? Currently only one spouse is allowed by law. Is this a discriminatory policy that should be changed?
Should Christian churches expect singles to remain celibate?
Elizabeth L. Schick, Edmonton
Replaying the Garden of Eden
In the discourse about Being a Faithful Church, all this talk about same-sex relationships being “love” and not “lust” is simply a replay of the scene in the Garden of Eden.
In the middle of the Garden, God planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). God said to Adam: “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NASB). And it came to pass that Adam and Eve were in the garden looking at the fruit, which God said they were not supposed to eat, and a voice said to Eve, “Did God really say . . .” (Genesis 3:1).
Today, some 6,000 years later, 6,000 voices say to the Adams and Eves the same thing: “Did God really say?” Did God really say, “Do not practise homosexuality. . . . It is a detestable sin” (Leviticus 18:22 NLT).
Did God really say: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts . . .” (Romans 1:26-27).
What happened when Adam and Eve listened to that first voice? It was paradise lost. What happens now if we listen to that same voice? It is death eternal.
But God did say, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13). God did say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Whose voice are we listening to?
Helen Redekopp, Winnipeg