Pandemic provides ‘extra bonuses’ for elderly congregant
Re: “In a time of uncertainty: COVID-19 prompts churches to rethink gatherings,” March 30, page 15.
The Japanese Mennonite Christian Fellowship meets in Surrey, B.C., at Living Hope Church every Sunday afternoon. I would love to attend but cannot make that drive of 45 minutes on the freeway.
However, now the church is meeting virtually online, and not only can I attend via my computer, but we also see each one’s face and can connect that way. What a blessing.
This wouldn’t be possible without the virus disrupting our lives. So God gives me extra bonuses, attending the meeting every Sunday and seeing each person face to face!
I hope we can find ways of continuing after the virus bug is gone.
—Mary Derksen, Abbotsford, BC.
Nobody left to share Mennonite theology on the airwaves
Re: “The twilight of Mennonite radio,” June 22, page 4.
In my opinion, the beginning of the end for Mennonite radio programs in Manitoba started in 1999, the year Victor Sawatzky was forced out of the leadership role he had at Faith & Life Communications, a division of Mennonite Church Manitoba.
He was instrumental in expanding the radio outreach of MC Manitoba, which had produced radio programs since 1957, the year CFAM 1290 started broadcasting in Altona. At the high point, he was overseeing and producing four weekly radio programs—all heard on CFAM, AM1250 in Steinbach and CJRB in Boissevain.
In addition, some of these programs that Faith & Life produced were also aired on radio stations in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and as far away as Paraguay and Mexico.
Not only did Sawatzky have a keen ear for what made sense to the radio listener, he was able to bring donors to the table, so that he had a substantial cash reserve to carry on the activities of Faith & Life. But, for some reason, the MC Manitoba board wanted Victor out of the picture, and he was unceremoniously pushed out in 1999.
So, even though the last MC Manitoba program, Frohe Botschaft, aired on June 28, the seeds of the demise of Mennonite radio were sown a long time ago.
The sad part for me is that MC Manitoba has seen fit to not be heard on Golden West Radio, the only Mennonite-owned radio organization in Canada, leaving it, as of now, entirely up to other faith groups to share their theological understandings to our listeners.
—Elmer Hildebrand, Altona, Man.
The writer is CEO of Golden West Radio, headquartered in Altona. Man.
Termination of pastor’s ministerial credentials story gets mixed reviews
Re: “MC Eastern Canada terminates retired pastor’s ministerial credentials,” July 20, page 22.
Thank you very much for this excellent, and much needed, article.
—Marion Roes (online comment)
While the outcome of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s actions did result in a positive step for the victims, it’s not clear how the past trauma, the most-certainly re-emergent trauma, and the ongoing needs of the victims of this abuse were treated in coming forward, communicated with and cared for during the process, and how they will be cared for ongoing.
While this article clearly does not, nor is able to, convey all the actions taken by the various institutions, the only proactive action noted is that of Habitat for Humanity, which has set up a confidential process for other possible victims to reach out.
I know it took much courage for the Erb Street Mennonite Church victims to bring this to light. I hope there is more than just “prayers” for them, but that, additionally, their community is treating them with care, consideration and an attempt to understand the impact the past and the current events have had and are once again having on them.
Rather than the accused, please consider the victims first. It is they who are the courageous ones, but they are also the vulnerable ones.
—Rick Shantz (online comment)
Accusations should not keep hymns out of Voices Together
Re: “Songs removed from Voices Together after allegations of sexual misconduct against David Haas made public,” July 20, page 23.
After reading this news brief, I was compelled to ask which psalms (songs) should be removed from the Scriptures because of King David’s indiscretions.
I also find myself with John, in Mark 9:38-41, asking, “Teacher, . . . we saw a man driving out demons [writing hymns for worship] in your name and told him to stop, because he was not one of us [because of his sexual indiscretions]. ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘No one who does a miracle [writes a song] in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.’” (Bracketed comments are those of the letter writer.)
Haas’s hymns selected for Voices Together should stand on their own merit. The strong Christ-centred character of the author is an added support for the hymns’ selection.
I grew up as a Mennonite but now practise my Christian beliefs through the Roman Catholic Church. There I found Haas’s music to be as a cup of water for the thirsty.
—Herb Janzen, Grand Prairie, Alta.