Readers write: October 14, 2019 issue

October 9, 2019 | Opinion | Volume 23 Issue 18
Various Contributors |


Queer hymns cause deep concern for Ontario churchgoers
Re: Queer hymns now online,” Aug. 19, page 35.

The undersigned from St. Catharines (Ont.) United Mennonite Church are deeply concerned about directions our Anabaptist faith is going in.

Are we audacious enough to change scripture, the Holy Word of God, and eject the names of our Lord God—he, her, kingdom and probably Father—words Jesus himself used? Should we not be afraid to stand before the righteous God?

Our Lord Jesus said to his followers: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:10-13).

The Apostle Paul, the greatest teacher of the gospel of Jesus, challenged readers in his day and today:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

And, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (II Timothy 4:3).
—Elly Baerg, Helen Braun, Marg and John Butsch, Karen Doherty, Katie Fast, Martha Fransen, Ruth Heidebrecht, Russ and Hilda Kamada, Lori McMullen, Elaine and Rudy Reimer, Erna Schroeder, Carla Watson, all of St. Catharines, Ont.; Carolyn Coplen, Thorold, Ont.; and Walt and Betty Klassen, Fonthill, Ont.


Reader appreciates learning more about pronouns and trans Mennonites
Re: “It just feels right,” Sept. 30, page 26.

I appreciated the article by Rachel Bergen, which focused on the challenges we face regarding use of pronouns for individuals who do not fit within the gender binary: non-binary and trans Mennonites.

I have learned that with greater knowledge I have a better chance of understanding. This article was educational and helpful. That can only lead to better understanding and appreciation for all of God’s children.

Thanks for the good journalism.
—Alf Redekopp, St. Catharines, Ont.

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First thought: People who don't like queer hymns are not obliged to sing them.

Second thought: In 1524, Conrad Grebel argued that hymns should be forbidden because they might cause conceit and vexation among churchgoers. Perhaps we should revert to that practice. Old times are always the best times, are they not?

I want to commend the group from St. Catharines United Mennonite Church for their letter of concern. Their demonstration of a high regard for Scripture comes as a breath of fresh air in a space where that is rare.

It is evident to me that hymns that truly glorify our unchanging God will never need to be altered. While individuals down here are running around in circles trying to keep up with the massaging and transforming of hymns to suit themselves, Jesus Christ remains “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Never should we forget: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

"Transforming hymns to suit themselves." Isn't that what we should all be doing? Inviting change into worship so that it continues to speak to new generations? Otherwise, wouldn't we still be in cathedrals singing in Latin?

We too are seniors and our hearts also ache over what the church has done, but our concern is also about what the church has done *to* LGBTQ+ people. For too long, we, as heterosexual Christians, have lived in our bubble of oblivion to what we are doing to this large group of marginalized people. They are not an issue. They are our family. We have found comfort in the way things were, the words we used to express our faith and find it hard to change, to be inclusive, but we must try. Yes, we have lost much, but what we have lost is the gifts and talents our Christian LGBTQ+ friends can offer our worship and Christian life experience. By changing the words in hymns to be inclusive, we are taking a small step in the process of inclusion. We agree with you when you say that Jesus preached unity, not divisiveness. In order to have unity, we must include LGBTQ+ Christians as well as those who may want to be Christians in the future. We are all God's children.

Egon Enns, Val and Erwin Warkentin, and Art and Alma Wiebe on behalf of the Pilgrim Group of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

I'd be interested in a discussion about why the people who have felt compelled to share their concern over names for God only seem to be naming God as Father. Aren't we trinitarian? What happened to the Holy Spirit (alternately neuter and masculine in the Greek) who is also God? How can we talk about the names Jesus used to name God the Father and not acknowledge naming Jesus as a co-equal person in the trinity?

Why are we interested in such a limited language for God when our tradition calls us to something inherently more complex?

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