‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 19:19 NIV)
During the 2013-14 academic year, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) was engaged in intense conversations on and off campus regarding its hiring policy concerning individuals in covenanted same-sex relationships. Research professor Lisa Schirch sent the following letter to the university’s student newspaper, The Weather Vane, representing some of that conversation.
1. Does your church give equal status and rights to women and men? How did earlier generations explain their assumption that powerful roles were reserved for men? How much does our culture affect our attitudes when it comes to what is right or wrong in the church?
Keep national, area churches out of LGBTQ decisions
I write this from what must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. We’re on a family holiday on one of the small Gulf Islands in British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia. I know; you’re already feeling sorry for me. I’m enjoying rest, playing with my kids, conversation with my wife and, sandwiched in small bites on this full table of grace, a good book.
This past spring, from March to May, I attended a series of classes at Spirit of Life Lutheran Church in Vancouver. The classes or “gatherings,” as they were called, were part of a program titled Caring for All Creation: Land, Water, and Our Communities. My partner Glenn was attending for class credit and since it was free for the public, I thought I’d go, too.
The Goreme open air museum near Cappadocia, Turkey, includes rock-cut chapels that are part of an ancient Byzantine monastic settlement. A group of Ontario Mennonites visited the site in May as part of an intercultural learning tour.
The group who visited Turkey in May appreciated the warmth and hospitality of their host family, the Dogans. (From left): Mandy Witmer, Phil Witmer, Pat Manske, Josie Winterfeld, Leon Kehl, their host’s brother and his wife, the Dogan family with their daughter, the grandfather, a friend, guide Sezai Yeter, Steve Manske, Ross Weber and Carol Weber. Also included in the tour were: Fred Martin, Wanda Wagler-Martin, and Will Winterfeld.
On May 5, a group of eleven Mennonites from Kitchener-Waterloo area churches embarked on a ten day intercultural study tour of Turkey, sponsored by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI). The tour was co-led by Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church and Sezai Yeter, a member of the Turkish community in Kitchener.
Cultural norms and values from one generation to the next are a moving target. While this isn’t a new concept, there are many challenges associated with the increased rate of change. Perceptions of authority and the shifting realities of influence are important as we consider the present and future church.
Members of the Harmony Group, formed six years ago by Mennonites seeking inclusion of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) in Mennonite Church Canada, recently engaged in earnest dialogue with Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada.
Hannah Martens (left), Cindy Klassen, and Rebecca Janzen enjoy each other’s company at the “GO” booth where Martens and Janzen earned money for MCC by running and biking on the stationary equipment.
Alberta Mennonites have few opportunities for large fellowship gatherings. While the annual Mennonite Central Committee relief sale is a huge amount of work, when the weekend arrives, the atmosphere is decidedly celebratory.
The previous article, “Landscapes of war, a people of peace,” June 25, page 12, noted the challenge of identifying “the Mennonite experience” in the War of 1812, and the fact that the war was significant as the first testing of conscientious objection in Canada.
If you visit a national park, you see them. If you work at winter construction sites, they keep you warm. If you were at the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C., they took care of your garbage and recyclables. You might run across them anywhere in Canada or the United States, in Colombia or Venezuela in South America, or in China or Hong Kong.
Here are multiple stories of how Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) began. One tells of Clayton Kratz, a young man who went to Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, to attempt to distribute aid to starving people in 1920, but disappeared and was never found.
Another details how Mennonites worked with the U.S. government to finally deliver relief supplies beginning in 1922.