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Volume 20 Issue 11

Cover Date: May 23, 2016

A living death

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 18, 2016 | 12 comments

She is more than my spouse and partner of 54 years. She was my soul mate; the person whose love and devotion never faltered; the one to whom I turned for counsel, for wisdom and for comfort.

Guard your heart and mind

‘I learned that mental illness runs in my family, so I come by this quite honestly. It has been a long road back and it’s not like I am completely free of anxiety. I will always live with a tendency towards it,’ (Artwork: ‘Hear my prayer,’ by Linda Klippenstein /

Feature | By Angelika Dawson | May 18, 2016

I memorized Philippians 4:4-9 more than 20 years ago when I was on bed rest during my pregnancy with my son Aaron. I had lost three babies before him—and one after him—so pregnancy for me was an obvious cause for anxiety.

If truth be known, I am actually a professional worrier, so passages like this one sometimes feel like they were written specifically for me: Hey, Angelika! Quit worrying, start praying. Be thankful; guard your heart and mind.

Readers write: May 23, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | May 18, 2016

Intent of Star Wars review is to criticize culture of violence

Re: “Star Wars review promotes violence against women,” April 11, page 11.

Thank you to Bev Hunsberger for alerting me to the different ways my article on Star Wars and Hollywood feminism can be viewed, even by likeminded people. She has helped me reconsider how best to communicate my thoughts on violence in film.

Cultivating imagination

Karen Martens Zimmerly
Viewpoints | By Karen Martens Zimmerly | May 18, 2016

During the Second World War, guided by the leadership of Pastor André Trocmé, the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and surrounding regions hid Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis. A less well-known story of that era comes from the small Muslim country of Albania, where both the people and the government protected their own Jewish citizens and Jews fleeing from other parts of Europe at all costs. While the world was at war and the Nazi and Fascist regimes made scapegoats of their citizens of Jewish descent, these communities lived a different imagination. They resisted.

Tending our mothers’ gardens

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 18, 2016

I am writing this column on Mother’s Day weekend. As I weed flowerbeds, memories of my hardworking mothers and their gardens dance in my head. Gram Miller—Anna Estelle—grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, in a large family that was intimately acquainted with poverty. Growing food was necessary for survival. I remember her planting many varieties of beans or enlisting my equally hard-working grandfather to do so. Even after their family was grown, they planted huge fields of beans, a cash crop to carry them over should lean times come.

What are you planting this spring?

Harold Penner
Viewpoints | By Harold Penner | May 18, 2016

May. It’s the time of year when many of us who have, or aspire to have, a green thumb turn our minds to gardening. Some may have already been nursing self-propagated seedlings for weeks, waiting for the right time to transplant them outside. Others make the trip to the local garden centre for flower or vegetable seedlings.

Neu Kronsthal

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 18, 2016 | 2 comments

This is a photo of the privately run Mennonite school in Neu Kronsthal, Man. John Kroeker (1910-82) is front row far right, and his brother Klaas Kroeker (1907-92) stands behind him. Mennonites coming from Russia in the 1870s were promised freedom of education as well as freedom of religion, believing it was the role of the church and family to educate children, not the state. Government tolerance for these schools soon dried up.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 5)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | May 18, 2016

The first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once said, “I always tried to be correct, not politically correct.”

Sometimes the pursuit of political correctness and the pursuit of truth are at odds with one another.

One way your church can stop hiding mental illness

Like Jesus, we can pay attention to those who are dealing with mental illness, we can listen, we can pray, we can be part of that community of friends to surround them with healing presence, says April Yamasaki, pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C. ( photo)

Focus on Mental Health | By April Yamasaki | May 18, 2016 | 1 comment

Mental illness is not as obvious as a broken leg, but it’s just as real. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. In one study, 84 percent of clergy say they have been approached by a suicidal person for help.

Mental health awareness incorporates art and poetry

This artwork illustrated the poem “You Crow” at Emmanuel Mennonite’s Mental Health Sunday. (Artwork by Dale Klippenstein)

Focus on Mental Health | By Amy Dueckman | May 18, 2016

Poetry and visual art proved to be a powerful combination as members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church observed Mental Health Sunday this year on May 1.

In 2015, Angelika Dawson, member of Emmanuel and communications manager for Communitas Supportive Care Society, helped develop worship resources for Communitas called “God of All Comfort: Mental Health Resources for Church Worship.” Communitas is a faith-based organization that ministers to British Columbians living with disabilities, both physical and mental.

Depression resurrection

Kathrina Redekop looks after herself, her family and her many interests in Stirling, Alta. Gardening, writing and music are her favourites. She is a member of Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of Kathrina Redekop)

Focus on Mental Health | By Kathrina Redekop | May 18, 2016

Today begins like any other, the type that has become common for me. I cheerfully get out of bed at a decent time, feed my children a healthy breakfast, tidy up and then do a boring 20 minutes on the elliptical machine while they begin their chores. It may not sound revolutionary, but I marvel at the grace contained in these everyday happenings.

Until almost three years ago, my life did not contain any calm or cheerfulness. Most days began with dread, a deadening wait for bedtime and the numbness of sleep if the nightmares stayed away.

‘We all need counsellors’

‘I often pray for my clients,’ says psychologist Theresa Driediger, who offers counselling services in Rosthern and Saskatoon, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 18, 2016

Theresa Driediger has been a counsellor for almost 30 years. “I think it’s a calling, or I wouldn’t still be doing it,” she says.

Helping to prevent suicide

Ken Reddig shares his story of mental illness with the adult Sunday school class at Tiefengrund Mennonite Church, north of Laird, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 18, 2016

It’s painful for Ken Reddig to tell his story, but he says, “If I can help prevent one loss, then it’s worth it.” Reddig spoke to the adult Sunday school class at Tiefengrund Mennonite Church, north of Laird, Sask., with guests from Laird and Eigenheim Mennonite churches also participating in the April 24 session.

Leaders being equipped to build up the church

Matt Antonio

Focus on Mental Health | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 18, 2016

Statistically, most mental illnesses show their first warning signs between the ages of 15 and 20—roughly the same age group encompassed by most church senior-youth programs. For this reason, those church members serving in youth ministry are both profoundly affected and on the vanguard of healing.

Niverville Community Fellowship, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation in the province’s rural southeast, has been making concerted efforts over the last five years or more to ensure that the training they provide for their youth leaders reflects this reality. It’s working.

‘There is love in this room’

Gord Alton and Alexa Winchell in Mannheim Mennonite Church’s ‘Living Room.’ (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Focus on Mental Health | By Dave Rogalsky | May 18, 2016

“Living Room Ministries” is a name coined by John E. Toews and Eleanor Loewen in the 1990s. In their book No Longer Alone: Mental Health and the Church (MennoMedia, 1995), they explore “the inter-relatedness of social, emotional, physical and spiritual selves; emotions that hurt or heal; depression; addictions; schizophrenia; grief; and suicide.” Their premise is that “just as we walk with persons who are physically ill, so we must learn to walk with those suffering mental illness.”

Finding God in my neighbourhood

Brian Quan, left, pastor of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church and MC Eastern Canada’s assistant moderator, gives a plant to Jonathan Abraham, centre, pastor of Shalom Worship and Healing Centre, to welcome it as an emerging congregation. Missions minister Brian Bauman, right, looks on. (Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 18, 2016

Stuart Murray, author of The Naked Anabaptist, encouraged Mennonite Church Eastern Canada delegates to become mobile temples, moving out of their buildings and into the neighbourhood to speak out the good news of God’s redeeming presence. At the annual church gathering held in Leamington on April 28 and 29, 2016, he encouraged the church to work with non-churched people, meeting the needs of the community, rather than building churches. Murray and Alex Ellish told stories about God at work in their neighbourhoods in Britain.

Wisdom in legacy

Surrounded by personal mementoes representing women of several generations, Ingrid Schultz speaks on the legacy of faith at the MC B.C. women’s Inspirational Day on April 30.

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 18, 2016

Recalling the legacies passed down through generations, women gathered on April 30, 2016, for the 77th annual Mennonite Church B.C. women’s Inspirational Day at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church.

With II Timothy 1:3-7 as her text, speaker Ingrid Schultz used the examples of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice, who both passed their faith on to him. Schultz is currently chaplain at Menno Place in Abbotsford and former pastor of First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver.

Together in lament, prayer and hope

Throughout a service of prayer and lament for Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Cross Lake, Man., at Home Street Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, people wrote prayers on slips of origami paper and folded them into paper cranes. The cranes will be delivered to Pimicikamak as a reminder of the prayers surrounding them in the wake of the suicide deaths of six members of that first nation community since Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo by Terry Zimmerly)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | May 18, 2016

Colourful paper cranes folded neatly over words of prayer. Bowls of floating candles melting together as one. A smudging ceremony rich with prayer that took five times as long as organizers thought it would because so many people took part.

These elements brought symbolic meaning to a March 20, 2016, service of lament and prayer at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. The service was held to show solidarity with Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Cross Lake, Man., and mourn the suicide deaths of six members of that first nation community since Dec. 12, 2015.

Future of the church appears grim

Artbeat | By Barb Draper | May 18, 2016

Following in the footsteps of Reginald Bibby, sociologist Joel Thiessen examines how Canadians of today view Christianity. In his book The Meaning of Sunday, he concludes that religion is increasingly being pushed to the margins of society and is regarded as less important as the years go by. Canadians tend to believe that religion should be restricted to the private realm because each person experiences it differently, and they believe religion tends to divide, rather than unite, society. Thiessen is not optimistic about the future of Christianity in Canada.

‘I am still holding out hope that I will be free of this one day’

Melanie Kampen manages her anxiety with medication, counselling and exercise. (Aaron Epp photo)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 18, 2016

What is it like being a young adult journeying with mental illness? Canadian Mennonite spoke with three people from Mennonite Church Canada congregations to find out.

Melanie Kampen

Melanie Kampen sought help for her anxiety when it got so bad last summer that she couldn’t get out of bed.

Six tips for better self-care

Self-care can go a long way to helping young people thrive, says Lynda Loewen, a counsellor at Recovery of Hope in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 18, 2016

From the time you are 15 or 16 to the time you are 26 or 28, your brain undergoes rapid cognitive changes.

“It’s the busiest time [of brain development] since early childhood, and it will never be that busy again,” says Lynda Loewen, a counsellor at Recovery of Hope, a program in Winnipeg run by Eden Health Care Services. “That time of rapid brain development is a huge part of the reason for impulsivity in that age range.”