Why aren’t Mennonites holding federal Liberal government to account?
I have been waiting for the deluge of reader letters and opinion columns expressing shock and disappointment that the current federal Liberal government has announced massive increases in military spending, but the silence is deafening.
On June 7, the Trudeau government announced a 73-percent increase over the next decade, translating into $32.7 billion annually by 2026, compared to the current $18.9 billion per year. It also announced that this spending includes 88 new fighter jets, compared to the previous Conservative government plan of 65 new jets.
Where is the outrage? In a five-minute search of past issues, I found several references from readers and columnists lamenting the Harper government’s military priorities, including:
• “In the last five years, since [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper began, militarism of Canada is increasing” (Nov. 10, 2010).
• “[G]overnment spending by the Harper government has increased by an average of 6 percent annually. Spending an additional $16 billion on fighter aircraft is consistent with the military priorities we have now. During an election campaign, being a conscientious objector would suggest working actively to elect members of parliament who declare an interest in peace” (April 11, 2011).
• “It is a blatant and constant reminder of [Conservative] military priorities” (May 28, 2012).
Now that many of us have helped elect members of parliament “who declared an interest in peace,” why are we not holding them to account? Will we again “work actively” during the next election to defeat this government with its apparent military priorities? Or are their “sunny ways” blinding many of us to the broken promises, hypocrisy and outright lies?
Hermann Ens, Waterloo, Ont.
Reader likes to read about missionaries
Re: “Going further together” feature, July 3, page 4.
We have had the Canadian Mennonite publication for many years. It was interesting, but not many Christian workers were written about until the July 3 issue. This is wonderful, informing us about overseas missionary workers. You could go into more detail of the work of our many overseas and local workers.
I pray for all our workers, one a day of course, and half of my 10-percent tithe goes to support our overseas work.
Thank you so much.
I am 87 years old and living in a wonderful seniors residence, Sunny South Lodge in Coaldale, Alta.
Olga Epp, Coaldale, Alta.
Alan Kreider remembered in England
Re: “A man of ‘Christian faith and its joys and struggles,’ ” June 19, page 19.
On 11 July, more than 100 people gathered in central London for a thanksgiving service for the life of Alan Kreider. Alan and Eleanor had been Mennonite mission workers in England for 30 years, until 2000; for much of this time they were the directors of the London Mennonite Centre. The service mirrored an earlier service at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Ind., using the same hymns and readings.
Over refreshments, including scones and Alan’s favourite Oxford marmalade, many shared stories of Alan and reflections on his influence in their lives. Others wrote in with their tributes. Chris Horton called Alan “a quiet, humble giant in the kingdom. He was like yeast, someone who started much ‘patient ferment’ in the U.K.” Andrew Francis wrote: “We have rich memories of times of teaching, conversation, laughter and good counsel. Together, Alan and Ellie have helped us reshape our lives’ priorities Jesus-style.”
Plans are emerging for an Alan Kreider Legacy Fund to support scholars working in the areas of early church history and Anabaptist studies, and to facilitate exchange visits and learning tours between Anabaptists and Mennonites from different parts of the world. Donations to this fund can be made via the Mennonite Trust. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Murray Williams,
Cross-cultural birthday party reminds us of our ‘refugee’ roots
On May 28, a group of Canadian newcomers held a birthday party in St. Catharines, Ont. There were two families that had come from Colombia in the last three years and a family from Syria who arrived a year-and-a-half ago. Three families from The First Mennonite Church in Vineland were represented. The birthday party was for Canadian-born Adolpho Garcia, who had just turned a year old.
This gathering was a moving expression of the Canadian refugee experience. Many there were born outside of Canada, even most of the Mennonite church sponsoring families. Nearly everyone’s mother tongue was not English. Yet here we all were, speaking English, Spanish and Arabic, and dancing to Latino music. After whacking the piñata, the children picked up their candy and toys, and we had birthday cake.
It was such a joy to be part of this group. Trusting relationships had been cultivated around the church sponsorship experience, and everyone felt secure together. The struggle of their journey to Canada and the hardships of the refugee exodus, while still fresh in their memory, were overshadowed by laughter on this day.
It was energizing to be part of an endeavour that has brought sanctuary and safety to people whose lives were shattered by war and violence. As Mennonites, our story in south Russia was similar to our new friends from Colombia and Syria. We can all be thankful for the haven that Canada has been for so many people.
The happiness of this cross-cultural get-together fortified us all in our resolve to be active in helping change the world. One family at a time, congregations can make a difference. The mustard-seed approach, which Jesus reminds us of, can prompt us to do efforts of service that bring hope to a hurting world.
Tom Neufeld, Vineland, Ont.
He is a member of The First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ont.