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Viewpoints

God’s heartbreak

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 23, 2017

While training as a family therapist, I learned the term “emotional cut-off.” It was not a dynamic I was personally familiar with; my particular family tends to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. We are often so closely entwined in each other’s lives that a little more breathing space would be desirable, healthy even. As it suggests, emotional cut-off refers to ruptures in families. Relationships become so heated and painful that one or more persons cut off contact with others. A realistic metaphor is that of amputation.

Contagious generosity

Kevin Davidson
Viewpoints | By Kevin Davidson | Aug 23, 2017

For many years my wife and I raised our family in an older community with many beautiful boulevard trees but very few young families. Despite our best efforts, our neighbours were aloof and at times confrontational, but we loved our little home and the family we were building there.

Sieburg women

(Photo from the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Aug 23, 2017

Who are these five women from Siegburg, Germany, in 1919? We don’t know for certain, but on Jan. 13, soldier Gordon Eby wrote that he and an army buddy “called at the home of the Krohn family—Hubertina, Maria, Lena, Katie and Bettie.” Eby was a long way from his home and Mennonite roots in Kitchener, Ont., when his battalion was quartered in Germany after the Armistice. Speaking German helped open doors for him to the warmth of German hospitality towards former “enemies.” This is the kind of war story that seldom gets told. Why is that?

Simple but not easy

Dan Dyck
Viewpoints | By Dan Dyck | Aug 23, 2017

Catching up on Witness worker reports, I came across an update from Mary Raber, who teaches at the Odessa Theological Seminary in Ukraine, a country continuing to experience turmoil despite the absence of stories in the mainstream news media.

In a class she taught about women in church history, she invited students to tell a story about a woman who had influenced their spiritual lives. Although the particulars of each story varied, three common threads emerged: hospitality, prayer and faithfulness.

I’ll melt with you

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Aug 23, 2017 | 1 comment

Our family was fortunate enough to see an iceberg this summer near Twillingate, N.L. It was a surreal experience for me. Everything around me paused for a brief transcendent moment, frozen in time, with the ironic exception of the massive spire of ice in front of me. “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” by the 1980s band Modern English began playing in the back of my mind.

Readers write: July 24, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jul 18, 2017

Millennial wants to sing a variety of music in church
Re: “What music rankles you?” column, March 13, page 8.
I couldn’t agree with this article more. As a millennial teenager, I am mixed in with the generation of people who only like church if it’s like a concert. My opinion is that there should be a mixture of music in church every Sunday. We have to find a middle ground between hymns and contemporary music to help the church grow.

Serving up your inner scapegoat

Coreena Stewart
Viewpoints | By Coreena Stewart | Jul 18, 2017

One late Friday afternoon when the office was nearly empty, two clean-cut young men showed up at the Mennonite Church Canada reception desk to inquire about pension benefits for their widowed mother. Assuming they were sons of a pastor, the receptionist sent them my way. As chief administrative officer, helping such people out is part of my job.

A spacious year

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jul 18, 2017

A year ago, I said goodbye to my job and stepped into an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown, or beyond certainty, as my father would qualify when he spoke of plans, concluding, “Lord willing.” The same acknowledgement comes from our Muslim friends who say inshallah with a similar meaning.

Continuous pruning

Harold Penner
Viewpoints | By Harold Penner | Jul 18, 2017

With the arrival of summer, my wife and I have been enjoying more time outside. Our yard contains many different fruit trees, shrubs and grapevines that provide shade, beauty, and a harvest of berries and fruits. The trees and shrubs are easily managed. However, the grapevines are another story.

Edward Beatty

Photo from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Edward Beatty, front row right, and John Dennis, behind him, speak with Mennonite girls. Dennis was a young man in 1874 who witnessed the Mennonite immigration to Manitoba. Over the next decades, he observed that the Mennonites were honest, hardworking and trustworthy farmers. By 1922, he was a commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He convinced Beatty, his boss, to extend credit of $400,000 to bring Mennonites from Russia to Canada based on a handshake with Bishop David Toews and the Mennonites’ good name.  The amount grew to $1.7 million.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 10)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jul 18, 2017

Someone once said to me, “The problem with Christians is they are all mental!”

As I reflected on his disparaging comment, I realized he had a point. Not the point he was trying to make, implying all Christians suffer from “a psychiatric disorder,” which is the second definition of the word “mental.” My epiphany came to me when I considered his statement in light of the first definition of “mental,” which means “of, or related to, the mind.”

Constants in the context of change

John H. Neufeld

Viewpoints | By John H. Neufeld | Jul 18, 2017

If I were to give a 14-minute TED Talk in our church context before the restructuring assembly for Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches in October, this is the gist of what I would want to communicate. I would like to ask and give an answer to an important question: What is it that is more important for all of us than our current and necessary restructuring? Or, to put it another way, what is the core vision for the church that undergirds whatever structures we create and is foundational for the life of every congregation?

Readers write: July 3, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 28, 2017 | 1 comment

Speaker sets the record straight on the Ziffernsystem

Re: “Singing by the numbers,” May 22, page 32.
It was good to see a report on my participation in the annual meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan.

However, the report presents a somewhat confusing picture of my message. Perhaps the simplest way to approach the matter is to say that I gave two presentations.

Paddling rough waters

Ken Warkentin
Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Jun 28, 2017

I’m told that white-water rafting requires four simple considerations.

They are simple but they are very important:

  1. Rest during the calm spots because there are always more rapids ahead.
  2. When a rock looms ahead, lean into it, not away from it.
  3. Whatever else you do, keep paddling.
  4. If you fall in the water, let everything go except your life jacket.

As a church in Canada, I believe that we are experiencing white-water times. These rules are helpful for the 21st century:

Tradition or traditionalism?

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Jun 28, 2017

How do we know when tradition is helpful or harmful? How do we know when tradition breathes life and hope into the people of God? Or when it becomes a barrier to the leading of the Holy Spirit for our time? This is a critical matter the church must be constantly discerning. Is tradition serving as a propeller or an anchor?

Pies bring a message of encouragement

Each year Tim Sauer, left, takes his first rhubarb pie to John Neufeld, the executive director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., because rhubarb is his favourite. (Photo courtesy of Tim Sauer.)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Jun 28, 2017

Tim Sauer is known as the “pie man” because every now and then he shows up at places like the thrift shop or House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., with a pie for volunteers or staff. His gifts of pie are meant to bring a message of encouragement, to say, “You’re doing important work.”

Tim’s rhubarb pie

Tim's rhubarb pie—a pie to share and enjoy! (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Jun 28, 2017

Tim Sauer, who is known as the “pie man,” bakes at least 200 pies a year that he gives away to encourage volunteers and those who work in church-related organizations. This is his recipe for rhubarb pie, a favourite of John Neufeld, executive-director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont. (See more of Tim’s story at “Pies bring a message of encouragement.) 

Pie dough for two pies

Tractor and binder

Photo: David Voth / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 28, 2017

The Voth family in the Steinbach, Manitoba, area on the farm with tractor and binder in the 1940s. August is a busy harvesting time for farmers and gardeners with eyes on the upcoming fall and winter. Farming has changed dramatically in the past decades but remains the backbone to feeding the country and beyond.

For more historical photos in the Mennonite Archival Image Database, see archives.mhsc.ca.

Letting all our gifts bloom

Photo by Leona Dueck Penner.

Viewpoints | By Ev Buhr | Jun 28, 2017

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

What would you risk for peace?

Mazzen Al Azzah, left, leads protesters in riding their bicycles on a road designated for Israeli settlers only; he was subsequently arrested. Israel is currently building a segregated road system throughout the West Bank. (Photo by Rachelle Friesen)

Viewpoints | By Rachelle Friesen | Jun 14, 2017

In April 2017, more than 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners went on a hunger strike. As I write this article, strikers have refused food and have been drinking only salt water for the last 31 days. They are protesting being held without charge or trial, medical negligence, poor treatment and the lack of family visits. The strikers are putting their bodies at risk to nonviolently protest their treatment; many are experiencing severe fatigue, malnutrition and dizziness.

Readers Write: June 19, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 14, 2017

Random thoughts from a reader

Don’t interrupt me

Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jun 14, 2017

In many busy Canadian families, parents and siblings interrupt each other in mid-conversation. We want to get our point across quickly and efficiently. We want to get stuff done.

Holy sexuality

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jun 14, 2017 | 2 comments

The irony wasn’t lost on me, or on others. At last summer’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly, people discussed, debated and discerned holy sexuality. Specifically, they considered, “Is there space in Mennonite churches for people who are in same-sex relationships?”

The decision by that delegate body—after a six-year, highly participatory process—was yes. Let us provide church space for those who are same-sex attracted; let us accept and live with the differing understandings we have on this aspect of sexuality.

It's better to give

Viewpoints | By Wendy Helgerman | Jun 14, 2017

My father is a very innovative man. Thirty-three years ago, he started a silo repair business. One of the reasons he is a successful entrepreneur is that he finds solutions to his clients’ problems, even if the requests are out of the ordinary.

Rabbit Lake church

Photo Courtesy of Mennonite Archical Image Databa

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 14, 2017

The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church in Rabbit Lake, Sask., 1938. In 1941, 87 percent of Mennonites were rural dwellers. By 1971, the number crashed to 53 percent and has continued to decline. There has been a massive shift in Mennonite communities toward urbanization, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities. New ways are needed to bridge the growing rural-urban divide, evident in voting, social and congregational practices.

For more historical photos in the Mennonite Archival Image Database, see archives.mhsc.ca

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