Readers write: October 28, 2019 issue

October 23, 2019 | Opinion | Volume 23 Issue 19
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Point:Counterpoint—Differing views on AMBS hiring
Re:Boshart next AMBS president despite expressed concerns,” Sept. 30, page 27.

Thanks to Canadian Mennonite for covering the opposition to the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) announcement about its new president. As the only news source which mentioned this, you showed yourself to be interested in more than just corporate communications.

The one piece that could be more accurate is that significant concerns about Boshart’s candidacy were raised by the four women you mention here, and many others, since long before the announcement. As a man, I’ll repeat my criticism of the announcement here, in the interest of furthering the news of this announcement.

In 2017, I edited a special issue of the Conrad Grebel Review. In the afterword to that work, I wrote about the need for institutional transparency and used the example of Sara Wenger Shenk’s leadership as a potentially good way forward for AMBS and Mennonite education. As Stephanie Krehbiel documents in the piece linked at Into Account, AMBS seems to be sacrificing significant pieces of its recent progress.

What is particularly frustrating to me about AMBS’s opaque announcement, beyond the narrative erasure Krehbiel discusses, is the lack of any positive reason for why David Boshart will be a good president—other than that he has held leadership in a denomination that has halved in size over the last 10 years and that he loves the seminary.

Because of some conversations that I’ve had with people at the seminary, I know that people there believe he brings potential to address other issues the seminary is now facing. But failing an articulation of those, we are left with simple institutional secrecy, the kind of speech that destroys lives and poisons culture.
—Trevor Bechtel (online comment)

This commentary on David Boshart’s appointment is disappointing.

Leadership in the Mennonite church is daunting in these days. It takes selfless courage to subject self and family to this kind of armchair scrutiny.

Boshart has been vetted by an elected board. After consideration, they have asked him to step forward. He has yet to take his seat at the table, but he is being plagued with microaggressions and an attempt at de-platforming. What folly.

Can we allow Boshart to assume his duties and make his own decisions before we pile on with terms like “heteropatriarchal”? (This term appears in Stephanie Krehbiel’s online Into Account piece.) What does that mean anyway? 

Is there no grace extended anymore when people begin their challenging duties?
—Walter Bergen (online comment)


Thanks for starting a discussion about money and giving
Re:The zucchini principle” and “Why your church needs to talk about money,” Sept. 16, pages 4 and 36, respectively.

As someone who has talked a lot about money, it is encouraging to see that money/economics is not only of interest to the secular world, but deserves attention from the Christian community as well.

I found this editorial a completely new economic theory and worthy of our collective consideration. The tangible, personal, benevolent aspects of money and vocation are often overlooked, partly because we Mennonites have left the farm. In my view, our traditional tie to the land that has characterized us for a long time has been a beneficial and sacred aspect of our history and helped forge our attitude about community and money. Gifting or selling surplus zucchini is huge, but helping our neighbours to grow their own vegetables is also a part of God’s plan (Mennonite Economic Development Associates).

Lori Guenther Reesor talks about giving and that it is an increasing challenge in some churches, but here, too, a big-picture view is also important. We need to be thankful that giving is not as necessary domestically as it once was, or as it is in other countries, because we are wealthy, but more importantly because we have a relatively progressive tax system creating a large middle class. We have allowed—or forced—governments to assume most of our former community responsibilities that were handled largely by the church.

And finally, digital giving is like digital banking, a non-issue compared to the big economic/moral/social/political issues like global warming, building pipelines, Indigenous reconciliation, big business morality and equitable trade.
—Peter A. Dueck, Vancouver

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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