Readers write: June 8, 2020 issue

June 3, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 12
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

‘Expect the unexpected’
When asked a few months ago what advice they would give about aging, a group of seniors responded, “Expect the unexpected.” That advice is relevant to all of us this spring!

In later life it becomes increasingly difficult to predict what may be around the next bend. Life happens. And, as with a pandemic, we may not recognize our resources or find our resilience until we’re in the midst of it.

As Joan Chittister writes in The Gift of Years, “In age, mystery comes alive. Nothing is very sure anymore. Everything speaks of maybe and perhaps, might and possibly. I might still be here. And I might not. . . . Then, as the years go by, we learn to trust the goodness of time, the glorious cornucopia of life called God.”

Our spiritual lives can be a valuable resource when disappointments and upheaval come our way. Connection with others, the natural world and the divine ground us and reassure us that we are not alone, even when required to keep physical distance between us. Relationship with God also gives space for lament while inviting us to live faithfully in our circumstances.

While pandemic response implored us to protect the elderly, recognizing the physical vulnerability that comes with age, I hope we will also learn respect for those who have many years behind them, as carriers of hope and perseverance when things do not go as planned. And to learn from them to adapt when change is necessary.

In the meantime, may we carry on, with trust, hope and love—and absorb the peace that can come with expecting the unexpected.
—Jane Kuepfer, Waterloo, Ont.
The writer is the Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging at Conrad Grebel University College. Originally published in a longer form in the spring edition of
Grebel Now.


Is rent relief all about the tenants?
“CPT urges Canada to ‘cancel rent,’ ” April 13, page 12.

I find this article disconcerting.

With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or federal employment programs that the government of the day has offered, many people are actually earning more than they did when they were gainfully employed. 

The article ties in the rent to being crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19. But how does not paying rent reduce the spread of COVID-19? 

What is the legal or moral responsibility of the tenant who has agreed to pay rent? Can they, in good conscience, just quit paying rent? How does that work? If a tenant has a bona fide issue with paying rent for whatever reason—being sick or lack of income—if they approach the landlord, they will in many instances get reprieve. 

What is the impact to the landlord? What happens to their financial obligations and mortgages? Or is this not important? Maybe it’s all about the tenants.

We need to also think of the long-term ramifications of not paying rent. Landlords will gravitate to other investments, thereby reducing the availability of affordable units. There are lots of other options for investors. Residential real estate has historically been a good, safe, albeit low, return for investors. For the good of all, let’s try to keep it that way.
—Bob Schinkel, Steinbach, Man.


Reader celebrates MC Canada’s diversity
Three churches withdraw from MC Eastern Canada,” May 25, page 26.

It always saddens me when I hear about news like this, although I respect each of our decisions to follow our convictions. I find it quite interesting, however, that our theological diversity within Mennonite Church Canada was named as a reason to leave. For me, it has always been something to celebrate and learn from.
—Moses Falco, Winnipeg (Facebook post)


Is the church ready for ‘persistent agitation’?
I was in Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia when COVID-19 physical-distancing protocols were implemented across Canada. For two weeks, I served as a legal observer with Christian Peacemaker Teams. 

I also went to Wet’suwet’en to form relationships with the people and the land, relationships that could speak into and inform my work with Mennonite Church Canada. I wanted to reflect on resolutions made by our ancestors in the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. Resolutions from 1977, 1987, 1993 and 1997, which were reaffirmed by MC Canada in 2007, publicly support the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and their authority over unceded territories. They are public promises we’ve largely forgotten.

Back in January and February, Canadians watched many Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions take place in southern Ontario and P.E.I., and in the cities of Winnipeg, Victoria and elsewhere. It was an incredible Indigenous-led witness supported by many non-Indigenous people. The actions were remarkably effective. 

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, freedom and reconciliation would only “come to oppressed peoples through persistent revolt [and] through persistent agitation.” 

The question I wrestle with is whether the church will seek to orient more of our lives and our people into this “persistent agitation.” Is this not what the Cruciform Christ calls us to? Is this not what many in our church imagined years ago when they repeatedly affirmed the basic rights of Indigenous peoples to land and life?

As director of MC Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations program, I believe it’s my responsibility to help discern with others how we can respond in greater measure to Indigenous peoples’ call to “come and follow” and “take up the cross.” 

Our parents and grandparents in the faith heard in their day these unsettling and life-giving calls from Indigenous friends and colleagues. I believe that we must act on them, and I believe, that by the grace of God and the courage of the Spirit, we can.
—Steve Heinrichs, Winnipeg
Excerpted from a longer piece on the MC Canada website that can be viewed at


‘Decolonize’ and ‘settler’ meaningless, pejorative terms
Re:Let Wet’suwet’en exercise their right to self-determination” letter, April 27, page 7.

In reference to “decolonize,” could I suggest a more meaningful 21st-century discourse, as there has been no colonies globally for 75-plus years. To suggest that the church should “decolonize” has no meaning for me and strikes me as irrelevant.

I find the use of the term “settler” a pejorative and somewhat absurd term, being as this is the 21st century and there have been no “settlers” for generations.

Using the term “settler” as a pejorative epithet is an insult to our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers who, through industry and innovation, built our advanced, civil, 21st-century society with its advanced parliamentary government, social system and compassionate health-care system.

To maintain, and even improve, this advanced 21st-century, civil society can’t be done by regressively moving to any previous centuries’ industry or social norms, and that includes embracing tribalism.
—Stephen Kennel (online comment)


(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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