By the end of a long day of hearings, there are few adjectives—short of “monstrous”—that can do justice to the plain words of old men who face the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commissioner with tears in their eyes and disclose the intimate shame of their residential school experiences to a room filled with strangers, grandchildren and people they have known their whole lives.
Steve Plenert, left, peace coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba, prays at Winnipeg’s Honour the Apology rally on July 25.
Pam Peters Pries; Karen Martens Zimmerly, MC Canada denominational minister; Dora Dueck; Byron Rempel-Burkholder; Steve Heinrichs, MC Canada’s director of indigenous relations; and Arlyn Friesen Epp, MC Canada’s Resource Centre director attend an Honour the Apology rally at the Forks in Winnipeg on July 25
Of the approximately 150 people who attended an Honour the Apology rally at the Forks in Winnipeg on July 25, more than 20 were members of the Manitoba Mennonite community.
“It was extremely daunting, knowing it was only one small basement on one street,” says volunteer Nancy Thiessen, one of about 250 people who volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) to help with clean-up in High River, Alta., after a flood devastated the city of about 13,000 in late June. “All we could do was take one milk crate of debris up the stairs at a time.
2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a foundational but forgotten “scroll” for Canada. Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada’s director of indigenous relations, plays with the Josiah story in II Kings 22 to ponder what could happen if we remembered the covenants of this land.
Portrayal of Old Colony Mennonites called ‘irresponsible and unethical’
1. What is a story from your life or from the history of your congregation that has had an impact on you? What stories from the past are important to pass on to future generations? What is the best way to share these stories so that they are not forgotten?
The ability to see clearly is an important sense to us as Christians and as Mennonites: our theology, The Anabaptist Vision; our music, “Be Thou My Vision”; our scripture, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Mennonite education at its best gives our church a special kind of seeing—akin to high definition or 3D. I call that hindsight, foresight and insight.
Two stories on sexual abuse have re-emerged recently on the Mennonite scene that call for sober reflection and some self-examination, but not self-obsession. They should be seen, in the present, as “teachable moments” and occasions for healing, rather than harsh judgments on the sins of our fathers.