Readers write: May 8, 2017 issue

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May 3, 2017

An appeal from MennoMedia’s Canadian board members

At our most recent MennoMedia board meeting, executive director Russ Eanes predicted that our organization is at the forefront of the transformation that is taking place in our denominations. Both Mennonite Church Canada and MC U.S.A. are undergoing significant changes in size and structure. Because MennoMedia supplies faith resources to congregations, it is the first barometer registering the winds of change.

At denominational meetings and on the board, we note trends. Church attendance is declining. Families of young children participate in church differently and less frequently than a generation ago. An expanding hymnody is enlivening our worship. Loyalty to the church as an institution and to church resources is giving way to a vast, Internet-fuelled smorgasbord of possibilities. Younger generations are more visual, experiential and story-focussed. Older generations want to preserve the methods and means they know best. Church conflicts are creating fractures in our denominations. MennoMedia is impacted by dramatic, unpredictable shifts in church life, new technologies, publishing and print materials.

To facilitate the required transformation, MennoMedia has engaged in a trimming, reshaping process. The goal is an organization that fits current capacities, one that is lean, nimble and flexible. Recently, the office building in Harrisonburg, Va., was sold to lighten overhead and sharpen organizational focus. Earlier this year, the Canadian office in Kitchener, Ont., was closed.

But the mission of MennoMedia is still to engage and shape church and society with resources for living out Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective. Many Canadian churches are loyal customers. Typically, 20 percent to 25 percent of MennoMedia sales are to Canadians.

We urge you to continue to purchase and promote these resources in your homes and churches, a valuable means of supporting MennoMedia, and an effective, dynamic way to spread Jesus’ message of compassion, grace, reconciliation and peace in your neighbourhood and around the world.

Melissa Miller, Winnipeg, and Chris Steingart, Kitchener, Ont.

 

More than sexuality discussed at MC B.C. annual general meeting

Re: “MC B.C. wrestles with tough issues: BFC 7 sparks spirited discussion at annual general meeting,” March 13, page 14.

It is sad that there is no reporting in this article of any part of the rest of the pastors or the Lead conference, which seems to reinforce that sexuality is the most important conversation. I found the teaching and the questions we were asked to reflect on meaningful and thought-provoking.  

We were gathered into groups to reflect on questions that came from Jean Vanier’s book Community and Growth:

  • “The problem comes in living with brothers and sisters whom we have not chosen, but who have been given to us, and in working ever more truthfully towards the goal [of shaping community].” We would invite you to reflect on this quotation given your experience living in, or even shaping, your community.
  • Reflect on how you might envision embracing those “who have been given to us.” Who might those be in your community? Why might it not be easy to “live with them,” as Vanier says?

After a skit on the virtues of truth, mercy, justice and peace, we were asked:

  • Where do you find yourself on the truth-mercy, justice-peace continuum?
  • What do you find the most valuable in helping you feel belonging in your community?
  • In what way might you contribute to your community’s hospitality and nurture a sense of belonging and authenticity in your community?

Could it be that we need to learn to ask more honest questions of ourselves?

No matter what happens, will I remain faithful to God’s call upon my life?

George W. Goertzen, New Westminster, B.C.

 

Little Free Library was a ‘community project’

Re: “Bethel Mennonite launches its very own Little Free Library,” March 13, page 17.

Our Little Free Library was very much a Bethel community project. It was designed by architect Brock Klassen and built in the workshop of carpenter Delmer Epp. Funding and support for the project was provided by Bethel’s Education and Faith Formation Committee, and books have been donated by many congregational members. Thank you for the opportunity to provide important additional information.

MaryLou Driedger, Winnipeg

 

A veteran’s thoughts about Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge has been in the news continuously for many days, remembering the 3,600 Canadian soldiers who were killed in four days in a battle on that ridge in France in the First World War a century ago.

We have built a beautiful monument in remembrance of the soldiers who lost their lives in that unfortunate conflict. However, I can’t help but wonder whether, by putting so much emphasis on this event, we are actually glorifying war itself.

Wars are terrible.

My father was in the medical corps in the First World War. He hardly ever spoke about the horrors, but they affected him for some time in his life and led to post-traumatic stress disorder, which later may have been a cause of his suicide.

I am a veteran of the Second World War and was conscripted to fight on the Russian Front. All soldiers, no matter from which country, were trained and ordered to kill, and they did so. But are we really heroes by killing each other?

Historica Canada had a unique way of honouring the ones who died in recent wars. They made an appeal to the still-surviving veterans of the Second World War and other wars, asking if they would be willing to share their war experiences with a younger generation of high school students.

I responded and was invited by several schools. A teacher who invited me to her school wrote to the Memory Project organizer: “The first-hand accounts of his experience as a soldier on the front allowed us an incomparable and invaluable view into the effects of war on real individuals and their families.” I hope this experience will encourage these young people to promote peace and work for it.

Helmut Lemke, Vancouver

 

Former editor/publisher lauded for his service

We want to say how much we valued Dick Benner as editor of Canadian Mennonite. He made the Mennonite community come alive in its various perspectives, good and troubling. His editorials were on the mark; we never failed to read them. We thank him for what he meant to the Mennonite community and for giving us their story.

Walter and Mabel Paetkau, Abbotsford, B.C.

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