W W W. M B H E R A L D.CO M
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TRAVEL Lessons from the [Calgary] flood
FAMILIES that GO! Volume 52, No. 8 Publications mail registration number: 09648; Agreement number: 40009297
Storing up treasure ANGELINE SCHELLENBERG
After Sarah Klassen’s “Horizon”
It isn’t easy to write a poem about Jesus. One might describe his lean legs, soiled toes trampling smooth stones, riding a wave, his cheek turning to mark the hand that slaps, fingers of clay reaching to cleanse cloudy eyes, his eyes that see through skin to stiff neck, congested heart beneath. Perhaps a poem would reveal stripes where his tunic should have been, tears from breaking the fall, clearing a path through the swords, thieves, and rust. But could a poem capture the sizzle of fish on the rock, the woo of wind by his open side, the laugh in his throat as he calls, Have you caught anything?
MB Herald copy editor Angeline Schellenberg’s poetry has appeared in Prairie Fire, Rhubarb, CV2, Geez, the Society, and the Beautiful Women Anthology. Angeline received a Manitoba Arts Council grant to write a book of poems about autism. 2
FEATURES 10 Leaving a faithprint Travel that sees the world through relationship –Karla Braun
12 Families that go! Discipleship at home and beyond –Stacey Weeks
COLUMNS 4 Editorial The common good: a great idea –Laura Kalmar CONFERENCE NEWS
Executive board finds a sandbox Vancouver church closes, bequeaths building to new plant
9 Outfront Why would God send this flood? –Willy Reimer
16 Viewpoint Why don’t young adults go to church? –Peter Epp
17 Text message Matthew 13:31–32 Watch the weeds grow –Mary Anne Isaak
35 Intersection of faith and life The constructive power of words –Sandra Reimer
Transitions, births, weddings, anniversaries, 30 Crosscurrents baptisms Finish lines [Obituaries]
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Cover photo: Tracey Falk is a photographer and designer from Vancouver. Tracey captured “Random roadside stuff for sale” while on a road trip through B.C., interacting with the beautiful people and places she encountered. www.traceyfalk.com MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
Editorial The common good: A great idea L AUR A K ALMAR
ama!” he squealed. “Look! A digger and a tractor!” Three-year-old Alexander pointed enthusiastically out the window, bouncing up and down like a human pogo stick. My son was probably the only person on our block excited about the construction zone outside our homes. The city was upgrading the pipelines, and we were facing parking bans, incessant noise, piles of dirt and construction materials, and traffic troubles. It was a nuisance. The goal was to provide basement flood relief in our area, so I tried to grin and bear it. I recognized the importance of supporting efforts that would contribute to the common good of my neighbours. The new pipes would make Winnipeg a better place for us all to live. I smiled weakly at the construction vehicles rumbling past our house. Resurrecting an ancient idea The idea of the common good has been around for centuries in the church. Augustine introduced the concept in his literary masterpiece, City of God. Hundreds of years later, Thomas Aquinas honed it, making the concept a benchmark of Christian moral theology. The common good is defined as “the most good for all people.” When we work toward the common good, we assert that all human beings are of infinite worth. We take care of others, not just ourselves. We consider all people, including those who are poor, weak, vulnerable, or disabled. We care about groups and individuals equally. We work with everyone, even those with whom we disagree. 4
A unifying concept In the past few years, conservative evangelicals and liberal Christians alike have started buzzing about the common good. Q: Ideas for the Common Good is an online resource featuring essays, videos, blog articles, and podcasts by evangelical leaders such as Luis Palau, Ed Stetzer, and Andy Crouch, with the goal “to see Christians recover a vision for their historic responsibility to renew and restore culture.” Q founder Gabe Lyons “distinguishes the common good from narrower ideas like ‘the public interest,’ which he paraphrases as ‘the most good for the most people,’” says Andy Crouch in Christianity Today. The public interest focuses on actions that will make the greatest number of people happy, even if those actions result in suffering for some, whereas the common good seeks fulfillment for all people. Christian writer and political activist Jim Wallis launched a book at the beginning of 2013 called On God’s Side, What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good: Ours is a shallow and selfish age, and we are in need of conversion – from looking out just for ourselves to looking out for one another. It’s time to hear and heed a call to a different way of life, to reclaim a very old idea called the common good. Jesus issued that call and announced the kingdom of God – a new order of living in sharp contrast to all the political and religious kingdoms of the world. That better way of life was meant to benefit not only his followers but everybody else too. And that is the point of it.
More spiritual than political So, what might it look like to foster the common good? Often, it starts in our own backyard. It’s helping with flood relief and cleanup after a disaster like the one in Calgary a few months ago (see Outfront, page 9). It’s supporting new immigrants through local ESL programs, so all Canadian families can flourish. It’s making wise and ethical investment choices, so all people can enjoy safe and fair workplaces. It’s choosing travel and recreation based on the relationships and knowledge they can cultivate (see Travel with a purpose, page 10). But it’s not just about us. Working toward the common good requires ongoing grace and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Because, ultimately, humans will never be able to achieve good on our own. We will never agree on what’s best for all people. We will quickly become cynical and pessimistic. That’s where faith comes in. We have faith that God’s kingdom can – and will – break into our world in small, surprising, significant ways (Luke 13:18–35). “Faith enables us to act in hope, despite how things look,” says Jim Wallis, “and that’s what can help make change finally occur and change how things look.” Bradley Lewis puts it this way: “In the simplest sense, the common good is God. It is God who satisfies what people need, individually and communally.” For those of us who follow Jesus, the common good is an uncommonly hopeful idea.
LETTERS Still feeling the pain Re “Two perspectives on worship” (Crosscurrents, June). I’m curious why the Herald decided to revisit the contentious issue casually termed “worship wars.” From my perspective, it was more like an invasion! And not everyone who was unhappy about the invasion was a senior member grieving the loss of a child to the outside world. Some of us sang in choirs and served in various musical groups, only to abruptly find our participation in the worship service no longer wanted. When people say we should “indulge” a new generation and allow them to play their music, we remember the pain we experienced in losing our ministry, particularly when we were given broken promises that we’d be able to perform – at least on occasion – the songs many still love. ROLAND DERKSEN VANCOUVER, B.C.
Adam and Eve just the tip of the iceberg Re “Were Adam and Eve real?” (Letters, May). There remain many Christians who still believe in a literal Adam and Eve. We still believe in a young earth (albeit in an old universe). 2 Peter 3:5–7 alludes to heaven and earth being re-created after God swept away Lucifer’s kingdom with a covering of dark water. We believe in the Abrahamic covenant, and that God’s promises to Israel remain in effect. We believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid the full price for all sin and that forgiveness is available to all who will receive it. We believe the church will be snatched away from the horrors described in Revelation and we look forward to a blessed eternal state. Many people who don’t believe the creation story will go on to not believe the rest of God’s plan. They believe it’s their responsibility to save the planet, prevent all wars, stop all inequality, cure all diseases, and reshape a perfect world that Jesus might want to visit someday. I just don’t think that’s the plan. TERRI DIRKS ABBOTSFORD, B.C.
Real Adam crucial to Christian faith Re “Were Adam and Eve real?” (Letters, May). In Matthew 1, the Holy Spirit reveals the genealogy of 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. And in Luke 3, the Holy Spirit reveals the literal and exact genealogy from Jesus back to Adam. Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are among the most important chapters in the entire Bible, as they decisively and unequivocally refute any and all attempts to undermine the historical veracity of Holy Scripture.
If the first Adam wasn’t literal, all others mentioned in the genealogical record weren’t real either. If the first Adam isn’t to be taken literally, why should we take “the second Adam” (Jesus Christ) literally? The literal existence of Adam and Eve is not only important but absolutely crucial to our Christian faith. A historically true Genesis explains our origin, as well as the origin of sin. ED ANDRES HUNTSVILLE, ONT.
Statistics tell God’s story Re “Be bold, Thiessen exhorts” (Convention reports, June). In the B.C. convention report, C2C director Gord Fleming is quoted as saying “only 3 percent of Canadians claim to be evangelical.” This is similar, though somewhat higher than a figure used in the Mochar report, which the conference executive board commissioned more than a year ago. The figure used there for evangelicals in Canada was under 1 percent. Arriving at a reliable percentage is, of course, a somewhat uncertain task. However, a 2003 survey done for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada by the Ipsos Reid polling firm arrived at a quite different figure. It used a series of questions to try to come to an idea of the number of Canadians who might self-identify as evangelical. The questions/statements were these: (1) Belief that in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God provides the way for the forgiveness of sins. (2) Belief that the Bible is the Word of God and reliable and trustworthy. (3) Commitment of one’s life to Jesus Christ and self-identification as a “converted Christian.” (4) Disagreement with the statement that the “concept of God is an old superstition that no longer is needed to explain things in these modern times.” (5) Disagreement with the statement “Jesus Christ was not the divine Son of God.” (6) Weekly church attendance. The EFC survey came up with the following results: it found that 8 percent of Canadians identified themselves as evangelical Christians in terms of the six items and belonged to evangelical churches; a further 4 percent attended what we would call mainline churches; and a still further 6.6 percent attended Roman Catholic churches. Together, these are 19 percent of Canadians self-identifying as evangelicals. Let’s just say, in the end God knows those who are his. Let’s not underestimate what he is already doing in Canada. HAROLD JANTZ WINNIPEG
AUGUST 2013 Mennonite Brethren Herald is published monthly by the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, primarily for the use of its members, to build a Canadian MB community of faith. We seek to 1) share the life and story of the church by nurturing relationships among members and engaging in dialogue and reflection; 2) teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values and heritage, and by sharing the good news; 3) enable communication by serving conference ministries and informing our members about the church and the world. However, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the church as a whole. Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement. Winner of Canadian Church Press and Evangelical Press Association awards for Writing, Design, and Illustration: 1996–2013. Editorial office 1310 Taylor Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 3Z6 Phone: 204-669-6575 Fax: 204-654-1865 Toll-free in Canada: 888-669-6575 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.mbherald.com PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NUMBER: 4000929 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO: CIRCULATION DEPT., MB HERALD 1310 TAYLOR AVENUE WINNIPEG MB R3M 3Z6 CMCA
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Copyright The articles printed in the Herald are owned by the Herald or by the author and may not be reprinted without permission. Unless noted, Scriptural quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Subscription rates 1 year $24 ($30 U.S. & foreign) 2 years $44 ($60 U.S. & foreign) 3 years $64 ($90 U.S. & foreign) Please add tax to domestic subscriptions. See www.mbherald.com or phone 204-654-5766 for rate. Contact email@example.com for electronic options. Change of address + subscriptions Notice of change of address should be sent to circulation office, and should include both old and new addresses. Allow 4 weeks for changes to become effective. Email circulation office at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 204-654-5766. Advertising Advertising inquiries should be sent to advertising office (email@example.com). Display and classified advertisement copy must be received at least three weeks prior to publication. Advertisements are priced at a rate for insertion in one issue or at a discounted rate for insertions in three or more issues (not necessarily consecutive). Classifieds are priced per line, with a minimum charge of six lines. Staff Laura Kalmar editor Karla Braun associate editor Audrey Plew designer Helga Kasdorf circulation + advertising Angeline Schellenberg copy editor Barrie McMaster B.C. regional correspondent CANADIAN CONFERStacey Weeks Ontario regional correspondent Advisory Council: Helen Rose Pauls, B.C. Brad Sumner, B.C. Gil Dueck, Sask. Sabrina Wiens, Ont. Volume 52, Number 8 • Copy run: 16,000
Letters to the editor Mennonite Brethren Herald welcomes your letters of 150–200 words on issues relevant to the Mennonite Brethren church, especially in response to material published in the Herald. Please include name, address and phone number, and keep your letters courteous and about one subject only. We will edit letters for length and clarity. We will not publish letters sent anonymously, although we may withhold names from publication at the request of the letter writer and at our discretion. Publication is subject to space limitations. Letters also appear online. Because the Letters column is a free forum for discussion, it should be understood that letters represent the position of the letter writer, not necessarily the position of the Herald or the Mennonite Brethren church. Send letters to: Letters, MB Herald, 1310 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, Man. R3M 3Z6, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD IS A PUBLICATION OF
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
homepage Pastor sets stage for Spirit WINKLER, Man.
PHOTO: STEVEN SUKKAU
rama brings a three-dimensional aspect to a sermon,” says Dinah Elias. Worship director at Winkler (Man.) MB Church, she channels her congregation’s latent creativity into raw emotion, delighting to watch it connect with church-goers and non-Christians alike by catching audiences off guard. As director and playwright, Elias has been at the helm of everything from lavish multi-evening performances of Easter dramas with a cast of more than 100 to vignettes before the sermon in a morning service. Hearing from those who’ve been moved by her stories, Elias credits the Holy Spirit, highlighting the importance of inviting the Spirit into every aspect of writing, casting, and performing. “God does amazing things when we ask him to be a part of what we’re doing. God shows us in little ways, well done.”—Steven Sukkau Read the full story at mbherald.com.
PHOTO: MCC BC
Dinah Elias (left) debriefs cast of The Letters.
PHOTO: ANGELIKA DAWSON
Vancouver church closes, bequeaths building to new plant Hundreds turned out for MCC BC’s groundbreaking celebrations on the site of the new MCC Centre in Abbotsford, B.C. Siegfried Bartel, 97, long-serving former MCC BC board chair (centre), and his sons Reinhard (left) and Martin (right) were among those who dug in. Bartel also offered a prayer of blessing for the new project. Read full story on PAGE 20.
outh Hill Church, a six-year-old union between two Vancouver MB congregations at 43rd Avenue and Prince Edward, is closing. Coincidentally – or providentially – it’s the same area where a new C2C church plant, Christ City, is just forming. On June 16, South Hill Church voted by more than 80 percent to disband. But the decision came with unprecedented generosity: South Hill agreed to donate its building to Christ
City, allowing the newly planted MB church to start with a debt-free facility. “I was humbled by God’s exceeding grace and favour toward our church plant,” says Christ City pastor Brett Landry, “and humbled as a leader by [people] who would obediently and sacrificially answer God’s call in this way.” The historic decision signals a shift after nearly eight decades of rich church history. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
coming events Conference events:
’re a u o y w o n “You k hren t e r B e t Mennoni when …” ....you know Anabaptist isn’t John the Baptist’s wife ....you know that ICOMB is not a new personal grooming tool from Apple ....you don’t confuse Menno Simons, George Blaurock, or Conrad Grebel with indie musicians ....you know the difference between MBBS, MBBC, and MCC
Sept. 24–26: C2C Assessment Centre, Église Chrétienne Évangélique De Saint-Eustache, Que. Oct. 6–8: SKMB pastoral retreat, Dallas Valley Ranch Camp, Sask. Oct. 6–8: ABMB pastor & spouse retreat, Best Western Pocaterra Inn, Canmore, Alta. Oct. 16–18: BFL study conference, River West Christian Church, Edmonton. Oct. 22–24: C2C Assessment Centre, Vancouver. Nov. 4–7: National church planters retreat, Ottawa. Mar. 21–22, 2014: ABMB convention, River West Christian Church, Edmonton. Apr. 2014: PCO, ETEM, Montreal. June 2014: PCO, MBBS Canada, Langley, B.C. June 2014: Gathering, Vancouver Partner events: Aug. 13–23: CMU Blazers sports camps, Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg. Sept. 6–7: MCC Festival for World Relief, Abbotsford, B.C. Sept. 27–28: Fall Festival, Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg. Sept. 28: Mennonite Fall Fair, Prince George, B.C. Oct. 5: ETEM-IBVIE graduation, Montreal.
....you own the entire 52-year corpus of the MB Herald
July 21–26, 2015: Assembly 16 Mennonite World Conference, Harrisburg, Penn.
....you’re into peacemaking, but happily hunt down your friends during a game of lasertag or paintball
View more events from churches, schools, and agencies at www.mbherald.com/coming-events.
....you’ve accidentally ordered a BFL for lunch ....your best stories begin with “When I was at MBBC/CMU/ Bethany/ETEM/MBBS...” ....your idea of SOARing over spring break is having a church-basement sleepover with hundreds of your closest friends ....you think of your church, not the province of Manitoba when you read “MB” ....you see profound logic in spending 15¢ for a coffee mug at the MCC thrift store and $15 for coffee at Ten Thousand Villages ....your family says grace by singing the doxology in four-part harmony —Complied by Karla Braun
Our sincerest apologies Photos alongside a piece of writing can draw visual attention and heighten the impact of the article, but they can also reinforce thought patterns and stereotypes that privilege dominant culture. We apologize to Nellie and Willis Taylor for failing to honour this father and his grown-up daughters (above) with our chosen stock photography in June’s “Tribute to a father,” page 2. We try to visually represent a broad range of readers in the Herald – from black to white, Asian to Aboriginal – but in this case, we failed, and we’re sorry.—Eds. MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
Conference news Executive board finds a sandbox at the beach Executive board meeting, June 13–15, 2013
he primary agenda item for CCMBC’s executive board during its June 13–15 meeting was prayer and discernment around the conference’s mission, operating principles, preferred culture, and central ministry focus – key elements the board now refers to as a sandbox. Board members, BFL representatives, and senior staff convened at Stillwood Camp and Conference Centre, Lindell Beach, B.C., to work through a process based on T.J. Addington’s Leading from the Sandbox: How to develop, empower, and release high-impact ministry teams. Facilitator Gary Hunter of the Evangelical Free Church of America guided the group as they produced a draft “sandbox” document. “We believe it’s a good start in documenting how we collectively think and will act missionally as a national MB church,” said moderator Paul Loewen. The process of dialogue around the draft document will continue via conversations with provincial leaders, staff, seminary and MB Mission representatives, and the delegation at Gathering 2014 in Vancouver next June. “We encourage you to pray for unity in this process,” said Loewen, “that many
people will follow Jesus in the years and decades to come throughout Canada as a result.” In preparation for CCMBC’s annual general meeting, which will be held at the study conference in Edmonton, Oct. 16, the board processed financial statements and the 2014 budget. It was the last meeting for CFO John Wiebe who confirmed his retirement will take effect Aug. 31, 2013. “We appreciate all the work and investment John has put in over the past 12 years to provide CCMBC with a good financial foundation for future ministry impact,” said Loewen. Several other updates were presented at the meeting.
new bylaws for approval at Gathering 2014; the executive board provisionally approved those bylaws in the interim.
of time, talent, and treasure. Encouraging Christ-centred stewardship • The Stewardship review is progressing well with the assistance of a third-party legal and accounting team. A more complete report is expected in the next few months. • MBBS Canada reported on the approval of the MBBS Act by the B.C. Legislature, which provides MBBS with the ability to be an “equal player” in the world of higher education, rather than operating under the umbrella of another educational institution (ACTS Seminaries). MBBS will present
• Leadership development director Ron Toews gave an extensive presentation to the board on the creation of an “online learning highway,” which will resource and network leaders and pastors across the country. “Excellent initiatives like those developed by Ron will better help us reach Canada with the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Loewen. “We’re excited about reports from across the country, as provincial ministries and local churches are intentionally and strategically developing multiplying ministries in a concerted and unified effort to reach Canadians with the gospel. Please be in prayer as we look forward to our AGM in October. See you there!”—CCMBC release
(Psalm 24:1 NIV)
in it, the world, and all who live in it.” “The earth is the Lord’s and everything
South Hill CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6
From 1945 to 2007, the South Hill building was home to Vancouver’s first Mennonite Brethren congregation. (Vancouver MB met in rented facilities through their first decade.) As surrounding neighbourhoods changed, VMB members decided on a bold experiment in 2007, uniting with the English-speaking congregation of Pacific Grace MB Church under a new name, South Hill. Stewardship Ministries Pacific Grace pastor Mike Nishi came as leader of the new church venture. His emphasis was on discipleship and reaching out to the community, as the old German and Chinese congregations worked together to connect with English8
speaking “second-plus” generations in south Vancouver. Nishi resigned in May of this year, effective mid-July. He says his heart remains in multi-ethnic ministry, and hopes to continue it in an MB setting. Churches planting churches Vancouver MB left a rich legacy, frequently sacrificing time and funds to plant new churches. Among them were Killarney Park MB (1961) and Culloden MB (1968). With a similar passion, South Hill offered its building in 2012 for a monthly inter-church worship night for teens, a testament to the event’s spectacular growth over the previous year and a half. Worship event youth leader Jonathan Mitchell says South Hill has an amazing history: “So much
has happened in that building. It seems like holy ground in many ways.” Pacific Grace, which started in 1963 as Pacific Grace Mission Chapel, also has a church-planting history. In 2007, Nishi recorded South Hill’s genesis, calling it Pacific Grace’s “10th church plant.” Among the others are South Vancouver Pacific Grace, North Shore Pacific Grace, and two churches in Venezuela. PGMBC started Cantonese language ministry in 1974 and added Mandarin ministry in 1999. One part of VMB’s story has a particular sweetness for many members. In 1961, VMB planted Burnaby’s Willingdon Church, a move which ties to the events of 2013. Vancouver’s Westside Church came out of Willingdon. And
Westside is birthing Christ City. Meanwhile, Willingdon has since adopted Landry as church planter, completing the circle of blessing. More than coincidence South Hill’s retiring moderator Brian Ekk says, over the years, his church made a lot of community contacts and “planted a lot of seeds.” The decision to disband was very hard, he says. But he believes God was in the timing of the February appointment of church planter Adam Wiggins as interim associate pastor. Ekk says Wiggins, through his contacts, knew about Landry’s ministry activities, and things came together in an amazing way. “It all clicked into place,” he said.
“It’s not a coincidence.”—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent
Why would God send this flood? W I L LY R E I M E R
he devastating flood that hit my city in June raised some familiar questions among Calgarians – Christians and non-Christians alike: Why would God do this? What’s he trying to say to us? What did we do wrong? What could we have done differently to avoid this disaster? Western Christians often think if we do the right things, God will automatically take care of us. If we do the wrong things, God won’t bless us. If our lives are in chaos due to health reasons, financial misfortune, or natural disasters, we believe we must be doing something wrong. As a pastor, I have often been asked what a person must do to secure God’s blessing or avoid his punishment.
It’s easy to overlook God’s presence and blessing if we assume God should “show up” in a certain way. God may not reveal himself through healing a loved one, but he may make himself known through our loved one’s courage and devotion, or through a caring community. I don’t know what Stephen was expecting God to do in his crisis. Did he expect to be rescued? Did he expect his opposition to fade when he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah? Did he expect the Jewish leaders to repent?
Through a glass darkly In an attempt to give meaning to our circumstances, we often look for an explanation or purpose to our pain. But, friends, let us not demand to see the great good God will bring out of tragedy or darkness. No one said to Stephen or his family, “Here’s the plan: your death will be the event that takes the gospel across the globe.” Stephen simply kept his focus on Jesus, without any knowledge or apparent interest in how God would use
Encouraging Christ-centred stewardship of time, talent, and treasure.
(Psalm 24:1 NIV)
But is that how God works? The biblical story of Stephen paints a picture of a devout Christ follower – a man “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3) and “full of God’s grace and power” (6:8). Besides the disciples, Stephen is the first person recorded as performing signs and wonders. In Acts 6–7, Stephen passionately explains the gospel and calls for repentance before the Sanhedrin, displaying a Spirit-filled sense of peace and purpose. It seems that he did everything right. But, in the end, Stephen – likely a father, husband, sibling, and son – was murdered. Today, we probably wouldn’t view Stephen’s story as a victory. We might even call it a tragedy, with shouts of “God, where are you? I thought you cared about us? We’ve given up everything to follow you, what are you doing?” When confronted with tragedy, some Christians have an underlying expectation that God answers prayer only through relief or rescue. In other words, if a loved one isn’t healed, if our disease isn’t taken away, if a new job isn’t found, if our house isn’t spared, God doesn’t love or care for us.
It’s easy to overlook God’s presence and blessing if we assume God should “show up” in a certain way. God responds in love As the Sanhedrin became increasingly enraged at Stephen, the heavens opened and gave him exactly what he needed… reassurance (Acts 7:54–56). Stephen received reassurance that God’s love reigned, the Lord still cared, and the Holy Spirit was with him. When life closes in around us, the heavens may not open as we want them to. But when our faith draws us close to God, we can experience the same reassurance Stephen did. Stephen’s circumstances didn’t change, but his faith stayed firm: “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ He fell to his knees, shouting, ‘Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!’ And with that, he died” (Acts 7:59–60, NLT). To his dying breath, Stephen remained focused on Christ, drew strength from him, and continued to express concern for his fellow Jews. He probably had no idea his martyrdom would serve as a catalyst for greater persecution, thereby launching the spread of Jesus’ message throughout the known world.
his pain. He simply followed the leading and promptings of the Holy Spirit. The flood of 2013 was not punishment for the individualism or consumerism of Calgary. Destruction of property or loss of life didn’t happen as the result of individual behaviour. We live in a river valley which floods from time to time. When we build in the path of nature, nature will win. As f lood-ravaged communities rebuild, we have the opportunity and obligation to extend the hope of Christ through compassion, service, generosity, encouragement – to be, do, and tell the good news. This is the time for the body of Christ to extend the hope of Christ in every way possible.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
Willy Reimer is CCMBC executive director and lives in Calgary with his family.
For more stories of how Calgary MBs are responding to the flood, go to mennonitebrethren.ca
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
L eaving a
K ARL A BR AUN
very few weeks, the same church in Mexico gets repainted by another group of North America do-gooders. It’s an urban legend that illustrates the dark side of travel as a missional activity. Yet, the desire to see the world and offer something of ourselves in the process needn’t turn out so poorly. Organizations from MB Mission to Mennonite Central Committee to postsecondary schools to a commercial travel company are finding new ways to meet the impulse for travel combined with philanthropy through tours focused on learning – giving by receiving. Meeting the family When Lloyd Letkeman, MB Mission mobilizer for Central Canada, takes a team on a pray-and-learn trip to connect with MB partners around the world, he calls it a family reunion. “That analogy has worked really well,” he says. “You go to family reunions to get rooted, find yourselves in God’s broader story.” TourMagination, a Christian company specializing in Anabaptist connections, offers “pilgrimages” focused on history. But “one of the trademarks of our company is ‘people to people,’” says president Wilmer Martin. This was illustrated on a recent TourMagination European Heritage tour. At the war cemetery in Bergheim, France, one participant said to a 10-yearold boy travelling with his grandparents, “‘What you see here is the foolishness of humanity. Instead of loving each other and loving the world God gave, they kill each other.’ Those kind of sound bites stick in your brain,” says Martin. 10
FAITHPRINT Travel that sees the world through relationship
Dora Dueck, participant on several Anabaptist heritagestyled tours says, “There’s something more about those kinds of connections” – not only with other participants, but also with the Mennonites she met. “You feel that bond.” Tim Schmucker, who leads tours to visit MCC partners in Colombia says, “You become really close. Only people who’ve had an intense experience with people they didn’t know before can get a sense of the bond you feel.” Gerald Hildebrand, pastor at Winnipeg’s McIvor Avenue MB, has been “profoundly enriched by encounters with people of other cultures, different lands, different communities, different language groups. They have come to know Christ in their setting: it’s not imported – it’s their experience. They enrich us; we enrich each other.” Learning with the heart MB Mission’s vision tours are “experiential discipleship...learning in our head, our heart, and our will,” says Letkeman. “We’re going to connect with people we haven’t met, but they are family – brothers and sisters in Christ,” he says. As a student in the Redekop School of Business at CMU, Janessa Klassen was pleased by the opportunity to learn differently – meeting people who work daily
with microfinance and development – on a recent CMU study tour to Central America. “Many loan recipients were thrilled to show us the business that they had built up, and I loved being able to meet them.” Schmucker first experienced “learning” travel as a 20-year-old Goshen College (Ohio) student spending three months in Central America. “I’ve been so aware my whole life of how transformative that experience was for me,” he says. For 15 years since, he’s continued to participate in and lead tours. You can go to seminars, go to speeches and peace rallies, hear stories from a missionary who serves in another country, says Schmucker, “but it’s different when you breathe it. It’s visceral, using all your senses; you don’t get that when it’s secondhand. It’s a very intense and full awareness-raising experience.” “There’s a level of knowledge that comes with seeing,” says Dueck. “Any place you’re in, it’s a being there.” Even on a more tourism-oriented trip, she says, “there’s something real about that.” Expanding prayer life Praying on location opens new doors, says Letkeman. “Lots of our supporters are faithfully praying for workers, projects,
countries.” However, when you travel to meet those you pray for, “even the little things like smells you experience – everything adds to it. Now, when you are praying, it really heightens that relational connection,…the subtleties of what is God doing, things that we never get into a prayer letter or video.” Hildebrand’s many different learning tour experiences have “in many ways expanded my prayer life to be praying for people I have been with, particularly those suffering for faith.” Most recently, he participated in MCC’s trip to Colombia, where churches face challenges from government and paramilitaries alike. Soon after Hildebrand’s return, he received news that the Colombian government had indiscriminately sprayed farmland to kill illicit crops, destroying many legitimate farmers’ work as well. “They need to know we haven’t forgotten,” he says. “Self-sufficiency in North America has blinded us to our need for others, particularly in the global community of faith,” Hildebrand says. “I have the profound privilege of sitting with people in other places. They ask, ‘what is it like to be Christian in your context in Canada?’ They want to know, and they share what it’s like for them there.” “We’re so blessed in North America, and we think we don’t need the rest of the world,” says Martin. “But we need the rest of world, just like they need us. That’s why we travel, that’s why we’re building these kinds of bridges.” Schmucker is aware of that privilege: “It is us in the North who can afford to fly to the South; we have the resources to do that. Living with that knowledge, taking it seriously, also adds a level of humbleness and a reality check.” When (relatively rich) Westerners come with authenticity, willing to be taught, he says, they’re received with gratitude and invitations to return.
you’re there, the only way to enjoy it is to feel yourself a guest – you receive what you’ve been given in this place where you’re a stranger.” Letkeman encourages an attitude of expectancy: “Where are we going to see Jesus? Where is God going to show up?” “Our salvation is bound up with each other in Jesus,” says Letkeman, referencing Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson’s famous words: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if
Rejuvenating vision A learning tour may not be a holiday at all. Yet despite a packed schedule of sightseeing, meeting local contacts, and, of course, gathering over regional delicacies, this intense experience can provide spiritual refreshment. Schmucker’s tours to politically complex Colombia aren’t a vacation, but he cites his Amish-Mennonite grandfather’s oft-quoted axiom: “‘A change is as good as a rest.’ His point was that to rejuvenate
“We’re leaving a faithprint because wherever we go, we interact as
God’s children with other people.”
Turning expectations to expectancy “One thing you should leave at home is your expectations,” says Dueck. “Once
you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” A traveller’s posture needs to have only “us,” no “them,” Letkeman says. “It comes back to the family reunion. If one person is hurting, we’re all hurting. If one is celebrating, we’re all celebrating.”
ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean rest and relaxation in the sense of sitting on a beach, or sitting under a tree with a cold drink.” Letkeman says, “Pastors we’ve brought with us come home with whole new inspiration for work, ministry, and mission…. Churches thank us.”
Following the Spirit As a tour leader, Schmucker highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in the experience: “You organize well, you’re flexible, and then you stay out of the way.… You step back and let the Holy Spirit work.” Sometimes the unplanned things are the highlight of trip: as he toured MB leaders around Colombia, the spontaneous prayer they offered at each stop “was really powerful not only for us, but also for the Colombians.” TourMagination counters concerns about environmental impact with a new catchword for their attitude. “It’s true that travel leaves a carbon footprint, but we’re leaving a faithprint because wherever we go, we interact as God’s children with other people,” says Martin. “We’re unapologetic about travel; we’re about spreading and sharing God’s love.”
How then shall we live? A learning tour isn’t just a moment in time, but an experience that informs the rest of life. Participants return “with a new vision on life,” says Letkeman. “One of the things I’ve discovered as I travelled,” says Hildebrand, “is the tremendous gift that every people [group] has. We need each other to understand what it means to be devoted followers of Jesus.” The biggest challenge isn’t about saving up the funds to go, eating strange food, sleeping in different beds, spending a short-but-intense period with relative strangers, or relating across language barriers; “It’s the ‘How then shall we live?’” (Ezekiel 33:10), says Schmucker. “Now that we know this, how then shall we live? What does it mean for us when we come back to our communities, our churches, our work?”
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FAmi Li ES ThAT G O! Discipleship at home and beyond S TA C E Y W E E K S
ost of us are familiar with the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19). But what does discipleship look like in the life of a child? A disciple, even a young one, not only prays and reads the Bible, but is engaged with God’s mission within the local community and around the world. Discipleship is a holistic task. Many families are finding ways to engage in mission together, helping their children grow as disciples by “going” and serving God intergenerationally. With resources offered by the local church, community agencies, and international mission and development organizations, the possibilities are endless.
Following God by loving our neighbours
The entire Janzen family volunteers with The Dwelling Place’s annual soccer camp in a densely populated area of Kitchener, Ont. The camp is one of the church’s responses to the high need for family and children’s community events in this gateway neighbourhood for new Canadians. Some 90 children attend, of which more than 60 percent were not born in Canada. “It’s pretty cool to watch our girls take on leadership and serve,” says father Rich. This is the first year both his daughters, 13-year-old Hannah and 11-year-old Katie, will be taking part in a leadership capacity. “They give input, have ideas, and are fully engaged.”
“The girls could choose to stay home,” says mother Jen, “but they want to participate in camp and serve the community this way.” “This camp is not about getting the kids to be better soccer players, but about the kids feeling loved and valued, and we encourage our young coaches to strive to love in this way,” says senior pastor Ingrid Reichard. “I’ve always thought of camp as helping the community,” says Hannah. “But lately I’ve been thinking this is also about following God. This is about serving the community and loving my neighbours.” “Our Christian faith is part of all of our life. We are living out our faith together,” says Rich. “God is the builder and he uses many diverse people to build his kingdom, including kids.”
Tithing time as well as money Rose Nickel’s service at Camp Crossroads began some 20 years ago when daughter Heather invited her to volunteer at camp. She’s served as head cook each summer ever since. “It’s real neat to go and be a fly on the wall; watch your children and grandchildren make spiritual connections, raise their hands in worship,” says Rose. “It’s a blessing. I come home exhausted, but I’m always surprised at how blessed I am.” Camp service continues to be a family affair. Rose’s husband Rob has served on the board for seven years, and their granddaughters, 14-year-old Lexxi and 10-year-old Phoenix attend as a junior staffer and a camper. Phoenix hopes to use her gifts as an artist to volunteer in the craft hut at camp in the future.
“A child can’t inherit their parent’s faith. They have to experience it themself. Anything I can do to aid them in that discovery is worthwhile,” says Rose. “Camp ministry has helped me live out my faith by allowing me to model for our kids that every person needs to give,” she says. “Tithing is not just about money; it’s about giving your efforts, gifts, and talents. Our kids learn what they see.”
Working locally for students in Uganda Twelve-year-old Elena Rempel jumped at the chance to turn seed money into a blessing for Mennonite Central Committee’s Global Family. Last year, when her Niverville, Man., church offered ten grants of $100 to
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
multiply for a charity of choice, Elena chose to bless the MCC program’s community-based education for the Ik people of Uganda by raising funds through the sale of handmade candles.
It’s real neat to
watch your children and grandchildren make spiritual connections, raise their hands in worship.” “A blessing can be many things,” says mother Laura. “It is when a need is filled. Food can be a blessing, as can warm clothes, school supplies, clean water. It all depends on the need. To create a blessing is to create an act of caring, an act that gives hope, and an act of good will. To create a blessing is discipleship in action.” “We decided to use the money to make beeswax candles because 14
sometimes you just can’t deny the coincidence when a 25-pound chunk of wax shows up on your back step, just in time. We sold the candles along with collecting spare change and raised over $600,” says Laura. “Elena has taught me about going forward and doing what you feel called to do,” says Laura. “It’s wonderful seeing my daughter bring her heart to the forefront of her life and seeing the impact of the individual and the impact of the church. We thank God for the opportunity.” Until recently, the Ik had no schools. The funds the Rempels raised will purchase school supplies, food, clothing, soap, pens, pencils, sleeping mats, uniforms, and shoes as needed. “We did this because we knew it was the right thing to do,” says Elena.
Ingrid. “We went to encourage the people there and let them know that we are praying for them. The people were touched that we came.” Ingrid’s time in Mexico made her keenly aware of the need to scale down her earthly belongings, to simplify life, and free up her time. This trip confirmed that she can live with much less and still be comfortable, happy, and free to do what God wants her to do. “I want to teach that to my kids,” says Ingrid. “To be happy with less and available to God.” “I don’t want to live for myself,” says Amanda. “I want to depend on God, open myself up to others, pray more, hear God’s voice, and be bolder in sharing my faith. I want to be aware of other’s needs, not just my own.” “This trip has given me a different For more opportunities through perspective on prayer and about MCC, visit globalfamily.mcc.org praying for everything. It created a desire in me to go deeper in my friendships,” says Jordan. “I think I Putting needs into want to return one day. Rob, our misperspective sionary, spoke with me about using Ingrid Shrimer and her two my time here in Canada to read, children, 18-year-old Jordan study, and prepare myself for future and 20-year-old Amanda, didn’t mission work. Maybe I can return as simply sign up for a work project. an apprentice to him.” They set out to be helpful, to learn, and to deepen their own prayer lives. For more opportunities through MB Mission, visit: www.mbmission.org Together with several other family teams from St. Ann’s (Ont.) As these parents and their children Community Church, they travelled follow Jesus together, their acts to Mexico to encourage their of discipleship engage habits church missionaries, Rob and Anne and thought-patterns, not only Thiessen. The 10-day trip with MB behaviours. How are you “going” in Mission over the March break “was a fellowship trip, not a work trip,” says intergenerational community?
Gr Owi nG
as disciples of Jesus if they:
4 Are beginning to understand, according to their level of development, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and are able to tell you what it means.
4 Are beginning to comprehend God’s great care and love, and are learning to recognize their immeasurable value in the Creator’s eyes. They feel a growing love for God.
4 Are learning about their spiritual gifts, and have opportunities to joyfully use those gifts.
4 Have a deepening love for the Word of God. They own a Bible and know how to read it. They are able to memorize Scripture verses and are becoming familiar with God’s “master story” as recorded in the Bible.
4 Have an ongoing, personal relationship with an adult who disciples, shepherds, and mentors them.
4 Are becoming disciple makers, and feel more and more comfortable telling others about Jesus.
4 Are learning how to be authentic worshippers. They find joy in praising God and wonder at his creation and character.
4 Are developing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and sacrificial giving. 4 Are learning to have a positive attitude toward correction and discipline given in love.
4 Display growing amounts of love, joy, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, kindness, patience, and peace. They find more and more ways to avoid negative peer pressure.
4 Are developing compassion for others and have a growing heart for God’s world. They are becoming more generous and kind toward others. The Canadian conference board of Christian education produced a series of tools for churches called Description of a Growing Disciple, available from Kindred Productions. Laura Kalmar, then children’s pastor at Bakerview, adapted the resource for children’s ministry, creating Description of a Discipled Child.
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Viewpoint Why don’t young adults go to church? PETER EPP
discussion among us 30-something Mennonites has been heating up online. It’s a discussion that cuts to the heart of nearly everything the church worries about us. The question is the first one you’d guess: Why don’t we go to church? The discussion, to my knowledge, kicked off when Mennonite World Review reposted an entry from a blog entitled Motley Mama on its website. In it, Kate Baer, a fellow millennial, responds to a question from one of her readers. The reader asks Kate, an articulate, creative Mennonite writer, why she doesn’t go to church.
compassionate and inclusive. We want to talk about things that matter now.” I’m glad Kate was so honest. But her honesty, by itself, reflects an aspect of my generation that I’ve grown increasingly nervous about. Our generation tends to be great with honest reflections. We were brought up to tell the truth and find our voices. Our love of blogging is a testament to that. Not committed Unfortunately, though, we haven’t always been so great at allowing our honesty to be evaluated. We haven’t been great at this because we haven’t
I see my generation asking the church to bend over backward for them while hinting that they still prefer to relax at home. The question is posed as it often is these days. It’s asked carefully, as if the asker is anxious that the wrong words may chase us even farther away. And it ends by indicating an almost-total devotion to making church work for young Mennonites: “Is there anything the rest of us can do to welcome [you] back?”
been sticking around to receive it. We casually inject our honesty from the outside and then move on. So even if we’re right, we’re not committed or vulnerable enough to be a part of actually making those concerns mean anything. Right now, if I assess my generation’s honesty, I see this: a lot of sincere, valid, prophetic insight. But I also see a generation asking the church to bend over backward for them while lightheartedly hinting that they might still prefer to relax at home every Sunday even if the church does bend over backward. I see a generation saying seriously important things without doing enough to deserve to be taken seriously.
so many Mennonites over age 40 have listened anyway. They’ve nodded, chosen their words ever more carefully, and time and time again asked us if there was anything, anything at all, they could ever do to keep us. More and more, they’ve acted like people who know that the future of their church depends on us. They’ve acted like people willing to consider just about anything just to keep us. I’m not saying the church hasn’t been frustratingly rigid sometimes. I’m just saying that much of that church is asking us to help them overcome that. They’re no longer asking us to be just like them. They’re no longer asking us to give up our ideals and our concerns. They’re no longer asking us to sit quietly in the pews in our Sunday best, pretending. They’re just asking us to come out and help them fix the problems we’ve told them about. Build community with terrible “too”s Lately, when I’ve been asked why I still go to church, my first answer tends to be this: Where else would I be required to build community with people I otherwise (and usually inaccurately) label too conservative, too sheltered, too naïve, or too closed-minded? Where else would I be required to coexist with and learn from my elders? Where else would I learn the humility that my elders model every time they listen to me? There may be a lot I want from church that I’m not getting yet. But, thankfully, it’s still providing even more of what I actually need. And the more we all choose what we need, the closer we all get to the inspiring, thriving church we want.
Easier to stay home Kate’s response to this question is deeply honest. It also reflects some of my feelings, and those of many of my peers as well. She begins by admitting that church can feel boring and that it’s easier to stay home, eat blueberry pancakes, and stream online TV shows instead. She also goes on to specify what she feels we want: “We want a church less Peter Epp teaches Mennonite studies in about church and more about commu- The future depends on us Yet we are taken seriously. Our Gretna, Man. This article first appeared nity. We want a church with reachedout hands instead of clenched fists. We parents, our parents’ friends, our grand- in The Mennonite. want real. We want relatable. We want parents, our grandparents’ friends, and 16
Text message Watch the weeds grow Matthew 13:31–32 MARY ANNE ISAAK The kingdom of heaven is like a dandelion seed that a gardener planted in the garden; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the most prolific of all flowers, spreading to cover many lawns, so that the grasshoppers in the neighbourhood can come and rest under the leaves.
s summer flaunts its abundance in our backyards, many of us will be able to relate to the above Canadianized version of one of Jesus’ parables – the third in a series of strange stories he tells about weeds. In the first story, a farmer sows good seed everywhere, even among the weeds. The result is an abundant harvest. In the second story, an enemy sneaks in and plants bad seed in the farmer’s field. The farmer lets the weeds and wheat grow together until finally, a harvest of wheat is gathered into the barn. In the third account, a farmer deliberately plants mustard seed – a weed – in his field in order to attract the birds. The kingdom of God starts out like a messy field with a couple of weeds and a huge crop of wheat. At the end, the kingdom of God looks like an uncontrollable weed patch that not only makes room for, but also deliberately attracts creatures that are – from a gardener’s point of view – undesirable. Can’t you tear them out? We understand the dynamic of weeds in the garden of life if we’ve ever thought everything would be easier if
another person would just go away. We understand the dynamic of weeds in the field if we’ve felt that God’s work could be accomplished more effectively if only a certain group of people could be silenced or blocked. But then Jesus wraps up this series of strange stories with an even stranger summary. “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52, ESV). The mention of scribes reminds us that just before Jesus tells the weed stories, he has a major confrontation with the scribes. In Matthew 12, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, and when the scribes and Pharisees challenge him, Jesus gets angry, calling them among other things, a brood of vipers! Jesus sees evil, names evil, challenges evil, and then, when he is all worked up, I imagine he’s ready for a long conversation with God. He might have been tempted to pray something like: “Abba Father, you anointed me to share the good news of who you are. It would be so much easier if you would just get rid of those scribes. The Pharisees are weeds in your world and my life. God, see a weed, pull a weed. Can’t you tear them out? Yank them up. Amen.” But Jesus doesn’t have time to pray at the moment. On the same day his relationship with the scribes and Pharisees sinks to a new low, Jesus gets
Matthew 13:31–32 (NIV) “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
into a boat and begins telling stories about God to the crowds on shore. From weeds to treasures I suspect these stories were for the benefit of the crowds, for the benefit of the disciples, and especially for Jesus’ own benefit, as he struggled to bring his will into alignment with his Father’s ways. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wrestles in prayer. And in the boat beside the beach, Jesus wrestles in parable: “Not my will but yours be done.” Through the stories, Jesus reminds himself that even though he is receiving false accusations and death threats, God will let the weeds grow unchecked now. But there will be a time when God says a firm no to evil. In the narrative accounts, Jesus affirms that no matter how impossible it seems at the moment, the goodness of God will grow and permeate the entire situation. And so, as his storytelling ends, Jesus names the scribe, not only as someone with evil actions but also as one who has potential in the kingdom of heaven – every scribe has treasures new and old. An amazing harvest of good fruit will grow in our lives – a powerful work of life-transformation – when we can see weeds as God does. Transformation in God’s kingdom is contagious. The surprise of the parables is that some of the weeds and birds may actually have treasures, new and old, to share with us and the world. Mary Anne Isaak is pastor at River East MB Church, Winnipeg.
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N E W S in brief First Nations children came last
A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study found half of status First Nations children in Canada live in poverty. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, that number jumps to nearly two-thirds, compared to about 15 percent of non-indigenous children in the provinces. With a poverty rate of 27 percent, Metis, Inuit, and non-status First Nations children (under provincial jurisdiction) fare better than children on reserves. Transfer payments from the federal government to reserves have been capped at a 2 percent increase since 1996, with no allowance for population growth. Lifting the 120,000 status First Nations children to the poverty line would cost $580 million. Save the Children Canada, which co-released the study, is building programs in aboriginal communities to help establish better parent-infant bonds, reclaim traditional languages, and combat suicide rates through a peer-based model.—cbc.ca
The new generation of history
At the annual general meeting June 7–8 in Winnipeg, the MB Historical Commission (MBHC) selected Christine Kampen and Dorothy Peters as this year’s recipients of MBHC’s research grant for their project From Generation to Generation: The History and Transmission of the Spiritual Formation of Two Granddaughters. MBHC student intern Amanda Bartel reported on her research on MB missionaries, and Maureen Klassen launched It Happened in Moscow in front of a gathering of 60. The MBHC works with 4 MB archival centres in Hillsboro, Kan.; Fresno, Cal.; Abbotsford, B.C.; and Winnipeg.— MBHC release
Writers get the Word
Mennonite Brethren were among those Canadian Christian writers honoured with Word Awards, June 12: Paul Boge (North Kildonan, Winnipeg) for Hope for the Hopeless: The Charles Mulli Mission; Sarah Klassen (River East, Winnipeg) for her poetry book Monstrance, Richard Erlendson for “The Life of Peter Penner” (former Coaldale MB pastor) in Faith Today, and MB Herald contributor Alvin Ens for his short story “Of Nights and Castles.”—Word Guild release
Rice & chocolate die, Hope lives on
To eradicate illicit crops, May 10, the Colombian government fumigated the Choco region without warning, destroying most, if not all, food crops in the region, including those of Weaving Hope. Run by the regional MB church, Weaving Hope is an alternative crops project supporting more than 200 families to cultivate and process food such as rice and cacao (for chocolate), fostering peace and community development. The MB church is seeking government compensation for those whose crops were destroyed and asking for prayer and solidarity from the global Anabaptist family.—mwc-cmm.org
A conference of German MB churches became members of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Mar. 24. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitescher Brüdergemeinden in Deutschland (AMBD) delegates unanimously accepted MWC’s invitation to full membership. AMBD has 1,611 members in 15 churches.—Mennonite World Review
MCC says “Oba jo”
Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s work with Low German-speaking Mennonite communities in northern Mexico will continue despite structural and administrative changes within MCC Canada’s program department. Formerly supervised from the Winnipeg office, this program, which includes lending libraries and literacy classes, will now be administered as an MCC Mexico international project. MCC’s programs with Low German and German Mennonites in Canada, including Die Mennonitische Post, will not be affected by the changes.—MCC release
7 tribes to be studied
University of Winnipeg history professor Royden Loewen will lead an international study that will see 7 graduate students conduct oral histories and gather ethnographic research in Mennonite villages in Java, Siberia, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, Kansas, and Manitoba (Neubergthal) for 4 months. The 3-year study focuses on the relationships farming communities have to the land and how it shapes them and how that interacts with government policies, the climate, and culture,
including religion. The chair of UWinnipeg’s Mennonite Studies program received a $239,000 grant from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to support the project, which begins this fall and will culminate in a book Seven Points on Earth and an international conference on Mennonites and the land at UWinnipeg in October 2016.—UWinnipeg release
Helping poor withdraw from cash Mennonite Economic Development Associates announced June 20 that it joined the Better than Cash Alliance, a collective effort to make electronic payments more widely available, especially to the poorest and most underserved communities around the world. Today, 2.5 billion adults, more than half the world’s adult population, are excluded from the formal financial sector, making it difficult to access savings accounts, credit, or insurance. Electronic payments allow them to access services and save for the future.—MEDA release
Celebration German style As another way to honour our diverse global family, Kindred Productions has translated Celebrating 150 Years, the story of MB churches around the world, into German for German-speaking members across Europe, North America, and South America. Die MennonitenBrudergemeinden in aller Welt is available at KindredProductions.com.—KP release
From far and wide Under the leadership of MB researcher Rich Janzen, the Centre for Community Based Research, Kitchener, Ont., received a 2-year $200,000 Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to study how to better equip churches to help immigrants and refugees settle and integrate into Canadian society. Study participants include The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, The Salvation Army, Tyndale University College and Seminary, Crandall University, Trinity Western University, Université de Montréal, Direction Chretienne, Outreach Canada, and the Canadian Council of Churches.— communitybasedresearch.ca
News in S TO RY K I T C H E N E R , O N T.
ne December 2012 night, Duane Arndt dreamed about a reunion honouring choir director Jake Willms and his wife Rita. After a Facebook post about Arndt’s dream received dozens of response in the first 24 hours, he called Jake’s oldest daughter Lori Willms Neufeld, and a reunion committee was formed. Arndt’s somnolent reverie galvanized Reach Out/ Celebration Choir alumni across the country to offer tribute to man who changed the course of many lives one song at a time. T he choi r sta r ted w it h Kitchener MB (KMB) youth leader Ron Ratzlaff singing with the teens. When Ron’s studies took him elsewhere, Jake consented to direct a choir in 1975, arranging regular Sunday afternoon rehearsals with youth member David Dyck as accompanist. Theme song “I’m Reaching Out” lent the choir its name until 1984 when it was changed to Celebration Choir. Echoes across decades A 1987 MB Herald report described Jake as a man with “boundless energy.” But it takes more than energy to strike a chord with teenagers that still resonates after almost 25 years. “Choir songs ring in my ears like I sang them yesterday,” says Arndt. “The words refresh my spirit and encourage me.” Arndt, who at 14 joined the choir in its twilight years, isn’t the only adult who fondly remembers Jake from choir days. “Ja ke entered persona l moments with a depth of care and character that still impact me today,” says Ellen (Krahn) Ibele, a member of the organizing team for the June reunion at KMB. “The
memory of his kindness during a time of deepest grief is a balm. Jake’s example has motivated me to step from my comfort zone and move toward others who are experiencing grief and troubles.” Acceptance and love Through letters, memory book contributions, and event participation, many voices rose to offer a public thank you to Jake and Rita: Jake listened well, offered words of wisdom, and – maybe most importantly – modelled Christ’s unconditional acceptance and love. “There are few people who have impacted my life as significantly as Jake Willms,” says Doris Balcarras who joined the choir in 1975. “He listened, asked challenging questions, and presented a different perspective. Then, he let me make my own decisions. No matter what choice I made, he supported and encouraged me. Jake always directed me to seek God’s will in my life challenges.” Cathie Kearsley, who participated in the choir from 1984–89, also f inds herself recalling conversations with Jake. “In my career, I hear myself repeating the same ‘two-minute sermons’ that Jake provided in our rehearsals. Jake and Rita set the stage for me as a teenager to learn about worship and service by modelling sacrificial service.” Family business Jake and Rita’s own daughters also sang in the choir. Their adulthood is seasoned with fond choir memories and lyrics that comfort and encourage them. “Performing with the choir was a spiritually uplifting worship experience for me,” says Willms Neufeld. “When
Celebration Choir sings at a Canadian conference convention in 1986.
I read certain Bible verses, I hear the song melodies in my mind.” Middle daughter Lisa Willms says, “The songs we sang became an integral part of my life. When I hear a choir song,…all the words, melodies, and harmonies come back. These songs Jake and Rita Willms at reunion concert. bring me joy and comfort and strengthen my faith.” group practice.” The first Sunday Lynn Willms, the youngest service performance at KMB, in the family, always admired her Mar. 9, 1975, “really went well.” dad for his approach to the choir. “God blessed our ministry in “If you wanted to sing, you could many ways, and I was personally join,” she says. “There was no thankful for the many years of audition, no fee, no requirement safe travel,” Jake wrote to Arndt other than a willingness to sing. in the lead-up to the tribute event. Choir was a place to be accepted KMB church hosted the and loved, which made it easy to reunion June 21–23, 2013. The sing of the acceptance and love weekend included choir rehearsthat God gives us.” als, a social for choir members Near and far Over the 15 years the choir sang together, they performed nearly 200 times, in 65 different churches. They travelled by bus as far away as Quebec; Banff, Alta. (for the national youth convention); and Winnipeg (where they performed at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 1990). Jake maintained a journal during his choir days. The first entry, dated Friday, Jan. 31, 1975, reads, “Our first Y.P. singing
and spouses, and a KMB concert featuring nearly 70 reunited choir members. Reach Out/Celebration Choir alumni travelled from as far as B.C. to participate. Others sent letters containing memories and greetings. From the 130 contact names collected by the choir committee, 100 people RSVPed for some component of the celebration.—Stacey Weeks, Ontario correspondent See online story for a history of the choir and member reminiscences.
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
PHOTO: KITTY IBELE
PHOTO: COURTESY CENTRE FOR MB STUDIES
Choir reunites to sing director’s praises
News in S TO RY ABBOTSFO R D, B.C .
Building and releasing
ennonite Central Committee in B.C. is celebrating two milestones this summer – a successful effort to raise $10-million for a new building, and a 40th anniversary for MCC thrift stores in the province. The fundraising success makes possible a summertime start of construction on a new facility in Abbotsford. Many of the MCC operations in southern B.C. are cramped for space, working in many cases out of rented facilities, says MCC BC executive director Wayne Bremner. The new Abbotsford building is designed to remedy the crunch, providing 80,000 square feet of space for MCC’s B.C. operations and shops. The project will also add financial resources to MCC’s funding for relief and development operations by ending the annual outflow of $350,000 for premises rental. Instead, says Bremner, more operational income will build equity and free funds for ministry. The new facility includes space for a major thrift shop and used furniture store. It will give
adequate warehousing space, bigger furniture repair facilities, room to package international relief and aid materials, room for Ten Thousand Villages, a centre to produce quilts for sale, Mennonite Foundation offices, and MCC BC office facilities. Bremner says there is space on the land for a second building in the future. The second phase of fundraising for the centre has begun. When its $5-million goal is reached, the new building can become mortgage-free. Hundreds of supporters and volunteers were on hand June 21–22 to celebrate the building landmark and its companion occasion, the 40th anniversary of B.C.’s thrift shops. The event coincided with the MCC BC annual general meeting held at Abbotsford’s Central Heights Church. The weekend began with a celebration concert by singersongwriter Brian Doerksen and male quartet The Ambassadors, attended by more than 1,000 people. The evening included a tribute to 999 volunteers. A video
PHOTO: BARRIE MCMASTER
MCC marks anniversary with groundbreaking, concert
June groundbreaking ceremony for MCC BC’s new building in Abbotsford.
honoured more than 100 who have worked regular thrift store shifts for more than 20 years. The thrift shops, last year alone, raised $1.5-million for MCC relief and development work worldwide. Doug Willms, coordinator for B.C.’s 10 thrift shops, said, “It is so remarkable that we have such a faithful, dedicated group of volunteers.” Following the annual general meeting on Saturday morning, the focus shifted to recently purchased property on Gladys Avenue in Abbotsford for a barbecue and groundbreaking ceremony. Master of ceremonies, board vice chair Ernie Schmidt, said because MCC depends so greatly upon its volunteers, everyone was invited to break the ground for the new building. “If
you dig well, we can save money on excavation!” A donor (Home Hardware) provided shovels, complete with small plaques to mark the occasion. Longtime MCC BC board cha i r Sieg f r ied Ba r tel, 97, prayed that God would keep the construction workers safe and would bless the labours of MCC. Completing the groundbreaking ceremony, MCC released live doves – the symbol of Mennonite Central Committee’s prayers reaching the heavens. MCC’s logo, a stylized dove and cross, is recognized around the world. Bremner says the weekend was a great celebration. “We were so honoured to have so many people come and share with us.”—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent PHOTO: COURTESY EDENB
EdenB: a safe place to train leaders Eden B students; director Jose Luis Moraga, far right.
he legacy of the late Fred Sto e sz , u rba n m i s sionary with the MB conference, continues to grow. June 21, five students formed the first graduating class of EdenB, a Spanishlanguage sister school to Winnipeg’s School of Urban Leadership, both started at Stoesz’s initiative. Following The Urban Ministry Institute curriculum of modular education through evening classes, and drawing on the local expertise of teachers such as 20
Braeside Evangelical Mennonite pastor Angel Infantes and Steinbach Bible College professor Ernie Koop, EdenB trains Spanishspeakers in their heart language to serve their churches. Though his students, originating from all over South and Central America, all speak Spanish, “they don’t necessarily speak the same language,” says director Jose Luis Moraga. It’s a “rainbow” school; each country of origin produces a distinct culture.
Through four or more years of studying together to complete the 16 course modules, students learn to set aside rivalry. “It’s beautiful to see how they grow up not just in knowledge but faith, family, church relationships,” says Moraga. “Staying in the same room once a week for 4 years provides an environment to know each other, hear each other, respect each other’s opinions,” he says. “EdenB provides a safe place to cross those barriers,” he says.
Bible-school trained in Chile and continuing his theological education at Canadian Mennonite University’s MA program, Moraga was appointed director in spring 2013. His personal mission is “to promote the school not as competition with church but for the church, to serve the church. We want to hear your need and figure out – in partnership – how to cooperate to meet it.”—Karla Braun
Special service honours First Nations people is your neighbour?” “Who Derek Parenteau asked
congregants at Westview Christian Fellowship, St. Catharines. “Jesus defines your neighbour as one person you wish wasn’t,” says Parenteau. “A lot of hurt has been done [to First Nations people] in the name of Jesus.” Parenteau is a program facilitator for RUGGED tree, a non-profit organization that organizes compassionate work in First Nations communities. Westview’s lead pastor Vic Ratzlaff met Parenteau a year ago and “knew Derek had to meet Westview.” Parenteau and his wife Tiffani minister in the Georgian Bay region where there are many First Nations communities who
“rarely make eye-contact across cultural lines.” Parenteau’s passion to pursue “peace, justice, and reconciliation” made him a fitting guest speaker for Westview’s service designed to honour and bless the First Nations people in their congregation. Community outreach pastor Erika Klassen organized the morning. “As an MB church, we sometimes honour and recognize our MB heritage and traditions,” she says. “But we have other cultures represented in our church family that are equally important to recognize.” Ratzlaff invited the relaxed gathering of 80–100 people to light candles to represent prayers held in their hearts. Passionate
worsh ip fol lowed, revolving around songs of praise honouring God and marvelling at creation. In the celebratory atmosphere, worshippers sat, stood, or danced their expressions of worship with colourf ul f lags and tambourines adorned with trailing ribbons. Micha LaChance, We s t v i e w m e m b e r a nd daughter of a n aboriginal man, shared her personal story and Westview member Ray LaChance plays a emphasized Jesus as the traditional drum in worship. healer. “What happens to a nation when the sins of men are are coming to these events saying, attributed to the church? We go to ‘We are ready to forgive.’ But there the cross. Restoration and identity are very few non-aboriginals is found in the Living God.” attending who are ‘ready to Parenteau highlighted the repent.’” He encouraged Westview Truth and Reconciliation events members to attend and support being held across Canada and the such events as opportunities arise. Visit www.ruggedtree.org for grassroots movement of similar events happening in smaller clus- more information.—Stacey Weeks, ters. He says, “First Nations people Ontario correspondent
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
PHOTO: STACEY WEEKS
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Living Stones: The Holy Land in Perspective A Canadian Mennonite University Study Tour
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Dear Christian Traveller, For us at TourMagination, traveling has always gone beyond tourism. Over the past 40+ years, we have worked hard to make each trip a meaningful, worshipful experience. On our tours we visit popular tourist sites but we also learn about the culture we are visiting and interact with the people. Sometimes we stay in the homes of locals and often we worship with them in their churches. Over lunch, we may hear about the work of MCC or MEDA staff in a country. Through many of our tours, we offer optional charitable projects, volunteer opportunities, and “wisdom exchanges.” These initiatives allow travellers to leave a “faithprint” even as their own faith is enriched by their experiences. Why not join us for a Holy Land, Mennonite Heritage, or Eco-Adventure Tour? Or maybe you’d prefer a cruise. Sincerely, Wilmer & Janet Martin Audrey Voth Petkau Owners, TourMagination
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Waterloo MB Church is a church in mission: a people sent by God to live incarnationally for Jesus, to be intentional in disciple-making and transformation, and to impact our broader community with the gospel of Jesus Christ and his kingdom. Located in Waterloo, Ont., we are looking for a lead pastor to lead our multi-staffed congregation who is a strategic and forward thinker, a developer and multiplier of leaders, and an effective communicator. Reporting to the leadership board, the lead pastor will provide overall leadership to the church and will oversee all areas of WMB’s ministry. To learn more about Waterloo MB Church and this opportunity, please visit www.waterloomb.org/employment.
Friends Community Church, Carman, Man. is a multi-generational church with Sunday attendance of approximately 90, prayerfully seeking a full-time lead pastor. God’s chosen pastor for us has strong biblical convictions and knowledge, and will present sermons with
team member working with and providing general oversight to the associate pastor, youth pastor, office staff, lay minister, and a large, supportive ministerial. The pastor would have appropriate Bible college education and preferably a number of years of Lead Pastor pastoral experience. The pastor would agree Glencairn MB Church, Kitchener, Ont. – Our with the EMC Statement of Faith and Church family is casual, fun, and eager to help around Practices. More information can be found at our community, and are ready get to work. www.lccfc.ca. Please contact Darryl Olson at In preparation for this, we have done the firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-841-0287 hard work of revisioning. We feel we have if you can serve together with us in this our mission and vision clarified but how do capacity. we enact it? It’s like our church is baking a cake. So far we have read the recipe and Lead Pastor gathered the ingredients. We need someone Vauxhall (Alta.) MB Church is prayerfully who is excited about helping us bake our seeking a lead pastor who loves the Lord, cake. It will be messy and we may need his Word, and his people. Vauxhall MB is a to tweak or change some ingredients but congregation of about 150 people in a town the end result will be SWEET! Interested? of 1,000. We are a rural community church that serves a radius of approximately 50 www.glencairn.ca km. We desire a pastor with strong exposiSenior Pastor tory preaching skills. We are also looking La Crete Christian Fellowship is seeking for someone who is able to work with a candidates to fill the role of senior pastor. team; we have a full time associate pastor LCCF is located in a beautiful, prosperous and a part time office administrator. Visit farming/logging community in north- www.vauxhallmbchurch.com to learn ern Alberta. We are a multi-generational more about us. Send resumes via email to congregation with a strong commitment email@example.com. to missions. The senior pastor would be a
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Transitions Janessa Giesbrecht began as pastor of youth and college & career at Fort Garry MB, Winnipeg, June 18. A volunteer youth leader at Fort Garry for the past 8 years, she previously worked with MCC Canada’s Global Family program. She has a BA in international development studies, and is pursuing an MA at Canadian Mennonite University. Janessa is married to Andrew. After serving 10 years (July 2003–June 2013) as youth and young adults pastor at Fort Garry MB, Joel Toews is moving into a new role as missional pastor Sept. 1. He will provide leadership for a missional church-daughtering venture which Fort Garry is launching with a one-year trial period. Joel will focus on educating the congregation, and discerning,
BERGEN – to Cohle & Rebecca of Thompson, Man., a son, Levi Isaac, May 17, 2013. BUSHMAN – to Andy & Karen (Fehr) of Osler, Sask., a son, Aiden Leslie, Apr. 6, 2013. DEBOER – to Henry & Heather of Foam Lake, Sask., a son, Benjamin Hendrie Arthur, Sept. 23, 2012.
training, and sending a team into the city of Winnipeg to live on mission, sacrificing for the sake of the gospel and building the kingdom. Joel and Colleen have 2 sons. Bill Stubbs preached his last sermon before retirement at Glencairn MB, Kitchener, Ont., this June. Over the last 12 years, he served the congregation first as associate, then lead pastor. He is currently enjoying a few months of vacation before considering transition/ interim pastoral positions. Mike Nishi concluded 5 years as lead pastor at South Hill Church, Vancouver, July 14. The elders decided change and fresh direction was needed, and on June 16, the church voted to close on July 14. A new C2C Network plant, Christ City, will launch in September in the same building. Mike looks toward God’s next calling. Aug. 31, Canadian conference executive director Willy Reimer concludes his ministry as lead pastor at SunWest Christian
HOSKYN – to Lance & Kirsten of Fort St. John, B.C., a daughter, Joy Pricilla, May 24, 2013. PUGH – to Dustin & Angela of Boissevain, Man., a son, Jaydon Zachary, Mar. 19, 2013.
SAWATZKY – to Abe & Destiney of Winkler, Man., a son, Liam Troy, May 17, 2013. SCHMITT – to Ben & Lisa of Winkler, Man., a daughter, Skylar Elizabeth, Apr. 10, 2013.
DUECK – to Peter & Kendra (Barkman) of Flin Flon, Man., a son, Max Zachary, June 18, 2013.
SCHULZ – to Jim & Tania (Peters) of Surrey, B.C., a daughter, Madelyn Faith, Jan. 22, 2013.
FRIESEN – to Bernie & Jodi of Winnipeg, a son, Lachlan MacKinley, May 14, 2013.
SUDERMAN – to Richard & Tara of Winkler, Man., a son, Blake Tyson, May 15, 2013.
HANNAH – to Dustin & Jodi of Foam Lake, Sask., a daughter, Aralee Anne, Nov. 5, 2012.
WUNDER – to Bryce & Paulina of Foam Lake, Sask., a son, Samuel Robert Warren, Feb. 23, 2013.
HILDEBRANDT – to Dion & Michelle (Eiers) of Calgary, triplets: 2 sons, Talyn Ryder & Teegan Benton, & a daughter, Nixie Tinley, June 5, 2013.
RUNDEL – to Chris & Denine of Foam Lake, Sask., a daughter, Tegan Marie, Dec. 13, 2012.
DOELL – to Chris & Tanya of Winkler, Man., a son, Chase Christopher, Apr. 13, 2013.
HEISE – to Ryan & Candace of Humboldt, Sask., a daughter Ella Renee, May 16, 2013.
ickolaus TEICHREIB & Leani N FROESE, both of Zhoda, Man., June 1, 2013.
T ravis KRAHN & Carly SAWATZKY, both of Winkler, Man., June 8, 2013. lexander LEUNG of Burnaby, A B.C., & Lynnessa FAST of Yarrow, B.C., June 8, 2013.
Fellowship, Calgary. After his appointment to CCMBC in 2011, Willy had continued to serve in the pulpit and be involved with leadership at SunWest, the church he and his wife Gwen planted in 1994. Paul Robinson resigned in April after 6 years at Port Rowan (Ont.) MB, 5 as senior pastor and 1 as pastor of care and connecting. He is seeking further opportunities for part-time and/ or transitional interim ministry, as God leads.
Dead to sin, alive with C hrist
We celebrate with MB churches who welcomed the following new members by baptism:
PARLIAMENT, Regina, Jan. 27, 2013: Micah Knelsen, Chad Hepting; June 23, 2013: Taylor Brown. KING ROAD, Abbotsford, B.C., Apr. 28, 2013: Joel Becker, Chris Dueck, Josie Gerbrand, Thomas Kippes, Emily Scoular, Markus Stahl, Cayla Unger, Lahela Unger; June 16, 2013: Daniela Stahl, Philip Dyck. GRANTHAM, St. Catharines, Ont., May 13, 2013: Arnie Pedersen.
BORN – Jake & Hilda Born celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary May 28, 2013, with neighbours, relatives, and the Jubilee Choir. They were married May 28, 1953, in Matsqui (B.C.) MB Church.
EASTVIEW, Winnipeg, June 9, 2013: Brian Anderson, Edouard Gauthier, Riley Moneyas. LENDRUM, Edmonton, June 9, 2013: Abenezer Altaye, Emmanuel Altaye. NORTH PEACE, Fort St. John, B.C., June 9, 2013: Dan Tiechroeb, Jaqi Tiechroeb, Lucas Reimer, Bill Ffitch, Debbey Ffitch, Jayden Giesbrecht. FORT GARRY, Winnipeg, June 9, 2013: Evan Schellenberg.
DERKSEN – John & Hedie Derksen of Winnipeg celebrated their 50th anniversary June 8, 2013, with family and friends. They were married Apr. 27, 1963, at Elmwood MB Church, Winnipeg. John and Hedie are members of Community Fellowship Church, Newton, Man.
WINKLER, Man., June 23, 2013: Peter Becker, Mike Dyck, Ashly Dyck, Kayla Froese, Desirae Hiebert, Ainsley Iles, Rob Insull, Jenaya MacKinnon, Corny Martens, Riley Martens, Flora-Lynn Penner. VAUXHALL, Alta., June 23, 2013: Stephanie Pepneck, Brooke Senneker, Rachelle Senneker.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.—2 Timothy 4:7
Harry Hiebert Nov. 16. 1928–Feb. 14, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Grossweide, Man. PARENTS: Martin & Katharina Hiebert MARRIAGE: Lora, Sept. 2, 1956 BAPTISM: Horndean (Man.) MB, 1956 CHURCH: Winkler (Man.) MB FAMILY: Lora; children Richard, Arlene (Roy) Penner; 3 grandchildren; 5 siblings
Harry enjoyed playing hockey with his brothers and riding motorcycle. His relationship with Jesus was an important part of Harry’s life, beginning at vacation Bible school. At Horndean (Man.) MB Church, Harry served as church treasurer, choir member, and usher, and enjoyed prayer meetings and Bible studies. A ride to a wedding together led Harry to ask Lora for a date. They settled on a new farmstead near Lowe Farm, Man. Harry made time to play soccer, basketball, and ball hockey with his children, and there was always room for them on the tractor or combine. Harry loved to sit in the open garage and watch a thunderstorm. In 1984, Harry began a new career as butcher in Winkler, Man., where he was known for his sausage recipes. In retirement, he volunteered as guard at the local police station, enjoyed bus trips with Lora, and discovered a talent for woodcarving. Harry was always up for a game of pool, table tennis, or darts. Grandchildren added sparkle to his eyes. Harry was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Helmuth (Hank) Goertz Oct. 2, 1936–Feb. 15, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Curitiba, Brazil PARENTS: Cornelius & Maria (Klassen) Goertz MARRIAGE: Ruth Peters, July 2, 1966 BAPTISM: Zion MB, Kitchener, Ont., Aug. 29, 1982 CHURCH: Fairview MB, St. Catharines, Ont. FAMILY: children Richard (Christiane), Robert (Wendy), Lynda Klassen, Bill (Becky); 10 grandchildren; 3 siblings
The first decade of Helmuth’s life was spent on the family farm in Boqueirão, Brazil. At 12, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In 1950, they returned to Brazil, where Helmuth finished school, did mandatory military service, and became a bus and truck driver. In 1958, the family settled in Kitchener, Ont., where Helmuth again drove truck. After a neck injury in 1975, he turned
his gardening hobby into a business. Following several difficult years, he began designing kitchens. In 1990, when a car accident forced him to retire, Helmuth followed his passion by joining the Niagara Community Male Chorus and finding a new hobby: making pens out of rare woods. In 1995, he was diagnosed with diabetes and in 2008, contracted West Nile disease. Helmuth was a caring husband, father, grandpa, uncle, brother, and friend. His parting words were always “Just keep smiling.”
Susan Voth May 12, 1930–Feb. 25, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Kitchener, Ont. PARENTS: Johanne & Susanna Duerksen MARRIAGE: Neil Voth, Feb. 28, 1953 BAPTISM: 1946 CHURCH: Grantham MB, St. Catharines, Ont. FAMILY: children Janice, Jeff (Bonnie); 2 grandchildren; 2 siblings
Susan’s family moved to Winkler, Man., where her father ran a honey farm, resulting in Susan’s lifelong dislike for bees. She attended 1 year of Bible school in Virgil, Ont., and then completed Grades 11 and 12 in a year. In the Carlton MB choir, Susan caught Neil’s eye, and their marriage lasted 60 years. Susan learned to cook, and sewed, crocheted, and made a house a home. Susan sang in the Songs of Faith trio that encouraged residents and staff at a home for the visually impaired for 25 years. Their 1964 record “Wonderful Stories of Love” included “Day by Day,” a song especially meaningful to Susan’s family. She enjoyed reading her son’s reviews in the auto section and learned to use a computer at 64 so she could email her daughter in the mission field. Though Susan struggled with illness, her faith in Christ and love for family remained constant.
Helen (Wiens) Willems Feb. 1, 1924–Feb. 25, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Dufferin, Sask. PARENTS: Peter & Helena (Giesbrecht) Dyck MARRIAGE: Irvin J. Wiens, June 19, 1943 [deceased 1986]; Menno Willems, Dec. 27, 1988 [deceased Jan. 22, 1991] CHURCH: Ebenezer Baptist, Saskatoon; Waldheim (Sask.) MB FAMILY: daughters Patricia Slimmon (John Blacklock), Darlene [deceased] (Doug Renwick);
2 granddaughters; 2 great-grandsons; 3 siblings
Helen asked Jesus into her heart at a revival meeting in Dalmeny, Sask., and was later baptized. Helen and Irvin lived their first 3 years on his parents’ farm near Hepburn, Sask., then farmed near Medstead, Sask., until 1952. They raised their family in Saskatoon. In 1985, they moved to Waldheim, Sask., to retire, but Irvin died suddenly one year later. Waldheim MB Church friends supported Helen. In 1988, she married Menno and gained 7 children and 16 grandchildren. Helen and Menno had 2 years together. Helen also mourned her daughter Darlene and grandson John. She served Waldheim MB Church’s Golden Age choir and food committees, volunteered at the Mennonite Clothes Basket, and supported World Vision. Helen’s greatest advice was “always put your trust in the Lord.”
Waldo Hiebert July 3, 1914–Feb. 25, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Mountain Lake, Minn. PARENTS: Nikolai N. & Susanna (Wiebe) Hiebert MARRIAGE: Rachel Ruth Wiebe, June 6, 1944 [deceased 2008] CHURCH: Hillsboro (Kan.) MB; Reedley (Cal.) MB FAMILY: children Theodore (Paula), James (Diane), Susan (Mike Bercilla), Daniel; 4 grandchildren
Waldo was demoted a grade below his twin brother and given to believe he wouldn’t succeed. He worked on a farm after giving up on school in Grade 8. He graduated from Hillsboro (Kan.) High School as ceremony emcee, and went on to earn an MDiv from Central Baptist Seminary, Kansas City. While teaching at Tabor, Waldo married the school librarian, Rachel. He was called to the pastorate on return from teaching 2 years in the Chaco. Waldo served the MB conference as chair of the board of general welfare and public relations (1957–66), chair of the board of missions and services (1966–75), as chair and vice-chair of U.S. committee of reference and council for 7 years, and as officer and member of the Southern District and Pacific District committees 29 years. He pastored 10 years in Hillsboro, Kan., and 6 in Reedley, Cal. Waldo delivered the Sunday morning sermon at 2 Mennonite World Conference assemblies. He taught at MBBS, Fresno, Cal., retiring in 1987. Waldo’s class on Christian disciplines was so popular, students requested it become compulsory. His student David Wiebe edited the class notes into Journey into Spiritual Growth in 1980, and another student Herb Kopp prepared the manual Deacons and their Ministry. Waldo always left the porch light on in case someone from church dropped by. MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
Arthur Henry Peters Jan. 5, 1923–Feb. 25, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Hepburn, Sask. PARENTS: Henry & Helena (Schmidt) Peters MARRIAGE: Mary Dirks, Oct. 16, 1954 [deceased June 12, 2010] BAPTISM: Hepburn (Sask.) MB, Aug. 27, 1939 FAMILY: son Victor, 5 babies [miscarried]; siblings
Arthur gave his life to Christ at a 1938 revival meeting. He remained a member of Hepburn MB Church 73 years, serving many of them as usher. Arthur assisted the Co-op board, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the Golden Age Centre, and the Museum of Wheat. He helped convert the town hall into a bowling alley and build the arena and Bethany College’s “Tab.” Arthur brought Mary the farm’s first wild rose every year. He lived 89 years on the farm where he was born. He loved farming, travelling, praying, and learning about his Saviour.
Edwin Ferdinand Janz May 23, 1917–Feb. 27, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Main Centre, Sask. PARENTS: John & Maria (Jahnke) Janz MARRIAGE: Mary Rempel, 1939 [deceased] CHURCH: First Alliance, Calgary; Sevenoaks Alliance, Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C. FAMILY: children Jim (Sharon), Jeannette (Jim) Dueck, Myrna (Brian) Buhler, Beverley (George) Durance; 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren
Edwin’s childhood illnesses prompted him to leave the rigours of farming. He saw Mary for the first time at 13, and didn’t forget her; they met at a party 4 years later. His early life exemplified a Mennonite lifestyle, without life-transforming theology. At Herbert (Sask.) Bible School, he received assurance of salvation with joy. This new understanding of his relationship to Christ defined him for the rest of his life. He taught one-room schools in Saskatchewan for 8 years. While Edwin was elementary school principal at Prairie Bible Institute, Three Hills, Alta., he completed his BEd, at great personal cost. After 12 years, he planned to go to Germany with Janz Team, but God made it clear he should remain in Calgary, teaching and leading schools. After early retirement, Edwin helped found Glenmore Christian Academy, Calgary. Edwin and Mary moved to Abbotsford, B.C., in 1985. Few lessons Edwin taught his children were as powerful as his lifelong devotion to Mary. He served as
deacon, elder, and usher at First Alliance Church, Calgary. Edwin chose to work through his limitations, and be pleased with the talents God gave him. He brought joy to all who knew him. The teachings of God’s word infused everything Edwin did.
active in Coaldale (Alta.) MB Church. Eleanor will be remembered for her strong faith, generous heart, deep love, and contagious laugh. Her family enjoyed her creative cooking and beautiful garden.
Katie Martens Frieda Redekop (Wieler) Brunner
Dec. 25, 1918–Mar. 10, 2013
May 15, 1920–Feb. 27, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Rosthern, Sask. PARENTS: Jacob Frank & Agnes (Wiebe) Redekop MARRIAGE: Abram Wieler, Aug. 22, 1943 [deceased Oct. 11, 1990]; Fred Brunner, June 15, 1996 CHURCH: Main Centre, Sask; Central Heights, B.C.; Hepburn (Sask.) MB; Fraserview, Richmond, B.C.; New Hope, Delta, B.C. FAMILY: Fred; children Karen, Dennis [deceased], Gerald [deceased], Stanley [deceased]; 9 grandchildren
Frieda met Abe at Herbert (Sask.) Bible School. They were city missionaries in Swift Current, Sask., 1944–45. While Abe taught at Abbotsford (B.C.) Bible School (now Columbia Bible College), 1945–59, Frieda was active in student ministry. When Abe pastored Central Heights Church, Abbotsford, Frieda ministered to many. They lived in Hepburn, Sask., 1962–68, while Abe taught Bethany Bible Institute. In 1968, they pastored in B.C. Frieda served for years as director of craft and related activities at Pine Grove Care Home, Richmond, B.C. After Abe’s death to cancer, Frieda lost all 3 sons to cancer. She felt blessed to spend her last 16 years with Fred, with whom she served the church faithfully. She was known for her generosity, hospitality, and cheerful encouragement.
BIRTHPLACE: Stepanovka, Ukraine PARENTS: Isbrandt & Katherina Riesen MARRIAGE: Jacob Martens, Oct. 13, 1938 [deceased 2007] BAPTISM: Yarrow (B.C.) MB, 1934 CHURCH: Bakerview MB, Abbotsford, B.C. FAMILY: daughter Frieda; granddaughters Charlene, Lynnette [deceased]
Katie lost her mother in 1923. Liesa Spenst became her stepmother. When the family immigrated to Canada in 1926, Katie was separated from her sister, when an infection forced Louise to remain in England for a year. The family settled in Steinbach, Man., where at age 9, Katie received Jesus as Saviour. In 1933, the family moved to Yarrrow, B.C. Here Katie met Jacob, and they ran a dairy farm from 1943–63. Katie and Jacob served Yarrow MB Church as deacons for 25 years, and Katie taught Sunday school and helped the ladies’ aid. She was devoted to service, packaging bandages and sewing blankets for MCC. Katie and Jacob camped across North America and visited Africa and Israel. In 1982, they moved to Clearbrook, B.C., where Katie continued to grow roses. After Jacob’s death, she made new friends at Tabor Home. Through challenges, Katie remained determined, faithful, brave, and sweet, and she loved the Lord above all.
Eleanor Siemens June 16, 1930–Mar. 4, 2013
Violet Neumann Dec. 30, 1937–Mar. 11, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Cordell, Okla. PARENTS: Leonard & Marie Bartel MARRIAGE: Ernie Siemens, Oct. 8, 1954 BAPTISM: Cordell MB, age 10 CHURCH: Coaldale (Alta.) MB FAMILY: Ernie; children LeeAnne (Gary) Dyck, Dwight (Rachel Perkins), Allen (Janice), Lauren (Nancy); 8 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; 5 siblings
BIRTHPLACE: Steinbach, Man. PARENTS: Peter & Marie Kaethler MARRIAGE: Harold Neumann, 1959 [deceased 1996] BAPTISM: Yarrow, B.C., age 18 CHURCH: Fraserview, Richmond, B.C. FAMILY: children Lloyd (Roberta), Teresa (Michael) Klassen; 5 grandchildren; 5 siblings
Eleanor accepted Christ as Saviour in her home and was baptized at 10. When her family moved to Reedley, Cal., she met Ernie, and they enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage. In her 14 years as home care aide, Eleanor had profound influence. She volunteered at the MCC thrift store and was
In 1955, Violet’s family moved to Vancouver where she met Harold. After their first child was born, Violet experienced a serious kidneyrelated issue. In hospital, she wondered if she could trust God now. She dedicated the rest of her life to knowing and serving him.
Through a series of miracles, she regained health and walked with the Lord in a new way. After Harold’s death, Violet moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in West Kelowna, B.C., and helped them plant Sunridge Community Church, where she served with love for 15 years. Violet discovered she had pancreatic cancer in January. Her life story, written by her daughter, is at www.onebrownleaf.com.
Agnes Dueck Apr. 27, 1928–Mar. 16, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Klippenfeld, Ukraine PARENTS: Kornelius & Susie (Warkentin) Woelk MARRIAGE: John G. Dueck, July 2, 1951 [deceased November 2009] CHURCH: Coaldale (Alta.) MB FAMILY: children Ellie (Henry) Suderman, Edward, Dave (Jodi); daughter-in-law Cheryl Dueck; 5 grandchildren
Susie Epp June 19, 1940–Mar. 19, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Karlsruhe, Paraguay PARENTS: Abram & Susanna (Fast) Wiens MARRIAGE: Hans Epp, Mar. 9, 1963 [deceased 1990] BAPTISM: Karlsruhe MB, age 18 CHURCH: Scott Street MB, St. Catharines, Ont. FAMILY: children Wernie (Margita), Rose (Walter) Wiens; 5 grandchildren; 4 siblings
Susie was born to a family strugging to survive, having arrived 8 years earlier from Russia via China. As a child she helped around the house and on the farm. In the Karlsruhe MB Church choir, she met Hans. In 1975, the family immigrated to St. Catharines, Ont., where Susie sang in Scott Street MB Church’s German choir. Shortly after their move, Hans was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and Susie became the breadwinner. She worked for 28 years at Tabor Manor. After Hans’ sudden death, Susie moved to Tabor Apartments. In 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When Agnes was young, her father was deported to Siberia, and she never saw him again. After WWII, her family fled to an MCC camp in Gronau, Germany, and waited a year and a half to immigrate to Canada. They Lydia Enns settled in Gem, Alta. When Agnes worked as a housemaid in Calgary, she met John, and Apr. 8, 1913–Mar. 27, 2013 they made a home in Coaldale, Alta. Because John became partly disabled, Agnes did farm work and housekeeping, including for Coaldale Hospital for nearly 20 years. Agnes and John BIRTHPLACE: Winkler, Man. moved to Sunny South Lodge in February PARENTS: Isaac & Elizabeth (Hooge) Dyck 2009; he died in November. Agnes began MARRIAGE: Bernard David Enns, Nov. 26, 1933 having more acute health problems in 2012, [deceased Mar. 25, 2003] so she moved closer to her children. She will BAPTISM: Kronsgart (Man.) MB, Aug. 1934 be remembered for her cheerful, forgiving, CHURCH: Winker (Man.) MB FAMILY: children June (Henry Friesen), Hazel hospitable nature.
(Robert Reimer), Murray [deceased] (Linda), Mabel (Hans Kikat); 9 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; 6 great-great-grandchildren
When Lydia was 2, her family moved to Texas for a better life but, fearing conscription for the boys, after 3 years, the family returned to Canada. Lydia and Ben met in high school and married after graduation. Lydia was a wonderful teacher of household skills to her daughters and Sunday BIRTHPLACE: Rosenfeld, Man. school to generations of children. She raised four PARENTS: Erdman & Maria Nikkel children on the farm. “Retiring” to Winkler, Man., MARRIAGE: George Remple, June 29, 1947 enabled Lydia to engage in church and commuCHURCH: Bethesda Church, Winnipeg; Killarney nity: as church secretary, with music groups, in Park, Vancouver oil painting classes, and as organizer for the local FAMILY: George; daughters Beverley (Lem music festival. She made and donated innumer[deceased 1996]), Marilyn (Arnold), Colleen (Bill); able items to MCC. She mourned son Murray in 5 grandchildren 2002, and 9 months later, Ben, with grace and Olga was the youngest of 21 children. She was inner strength. Curiosity and a great love of baptized in her early 20s. Olga and George nature led her to travel around the globe. Lydia’s raised 3 daughters in Winnipeg, and after retire- family and everyone at Salem Home, Winkler, are thankful for her long, productive life. ment, moved to Vancouver to be near them.
Oct. 29, 1925–Mar. 19, 2013
Helena Pauls Nov. 29, 1910–Mar. 28, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Kronsthal, Ukraine PARENTS: Peter & Elizabeth (Penner) Dyck MARRIAGE: Abram Pauls, 1942 [deceased] BAPTISM: Grassy Lake (Alta.) MB CHURCH: Coaldale (Alta.) MB FAMILY: children Tina Regehr, Marge (Stanley) Burwash, Cornie (Anne) Pauls, David (Iris) Pauls, Lena (David) Boschman, Ann Traber, Peter (Eva) Pauls, Lydia (Alvin) Sawatzky, Janet Braun, (Anne Pauls), Abe Pauls [deceased], John Pauls [deceased]; 43 grandchildren; 96 great-grandchildren; 41 great-great-grandchildren; 2 siblings
Helena accepted Christ as Saviour at 13. The family immigrated to Canada in 1926, settling in Grassy Lake, Alta. Helena attended Herbert (Sask.) Bible School and Prairie Bible Institute, Three Hills, Alta. She had her heart set on becoming a missionary in India, but God had other plans. She married Abram Pauls, a widower, and became mother to his 10 children, and a daughter born to them the next year. In addition to being a loving wife and mother, Helena served singing groups, Bible studies, and ladies’ and mission groups, especially after retiring to Coaldale, Alta.
Ernest Albert Voth Apr. 7, 1935–Apr. 1, 2013
BIRTHPLACE: Manitou, Man. PARENTS: Johann H. & Helen (Rempel) Voth MARRIAGE: Helen Hilda Wiebe, 1956 [deceased Aug. 31, 1983]; Wanda Eveline Bjorndal, Aug. 24, 1984 [deceased Aug. 8, 2012] FAMILY: children Kathleen (Andy) Doyle-Linden, Norman John [deceased in infancy], Carol Jane [deceased in infancy]; stepchildren Carol (Lauren) Enns, Miriam (Jim) Nikkel, Janice (Rick) Green, LaVerne (Debbie) Bjorndal, Cynthia [deceased] (Bill) Unger, Ramona (Phil) Calloway, Dennis [deceased] (Annette) Bjorndal; 1 grandson; 20 step-grandchildren; 30 step-great-grandchildren; 5 siblings
Ernie lived in Greendale, B.C. After marrying Helen, he graduated from Vancouver Vocational Institute and University of B.C. with a BEd. Ernie’s teaching career began in Penticton, B.C. Helen died after many years with cancer, and a year later, he married Wanda. They enjoyed 28 years, travelling to many places, before she died of an aneurism. Through life’s challenges, Ernie trusted Jesus. It was his life’s aim to please the Lord in all things. MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
currents Theatre that matters: Pacific Theatre celebrates 30 years of creativity, artistry, and the grace of God PAU L E S AU
n summer 1984, seminarian-turned-theatre-graduate Ron Reed and three friends took a leap of faith and started their own theatre company. Two were supported by their wives, while the others lived for free in friends’ homes, together pursuing a dream that seemed impossible amid Vancouver’s secular theatre community. Yet today, three decades later, Reed is executive director of Pacific Theatre (PT), a cherished part of Vancouver’s theatre scene, and “a place where [Christians] can bring their craft and calling together.” “At that time, the only theatre created by Christians toured to churches or was sort of evangelistic in nature,” says Reed, “and that was not our intention. We really wanted to do theatre as an art form, to do the highest quality of theatre that we could do.” Now preparing for its 30th season, Pacific Theatre employs five permanent staff and three apprentices on annual contract for nine or ten productions during
This mandate has stayed with Pacific Theatre over the course of its three decades, although Reed is the only member of the original four still with the company. Some plays, such as Reed’s own Refuge of Lies, deal with social and political issues on a national level (i.e., the Jacob Luitjens war crimes case in 1992), while others, such as 2012’s Leave of Absence provoke discussion about community, religion, and sexuality. Safe stage for questions Karyn Guenther, a current Pacific Theatre intern and member of Bakerview MB, Abbotsford, B.C., played the lead in last year’s production of Leave of Absence. She connected with PT while taking classes from Reed at Trinity Western University, and wanted to be a part of the production from the moment she read the script. “Pacific Theatre kind of chose me,” she says. Guenther intended to move to Toronto after completing her degree at TWU, but the opportunity at PT changed her plans. “Pacific Theatre is really great because they put [spiritual issues] on their stage,” Guenther says, explaining that the atmosphere at the Christian university and at PT have been instrumental to her faith. “I really felt so safe there – and so safe here –to question while creating, and not feel like my whole world was going to fall apart.” PT is “theatre that matters,” says local MB church planter Nelson Boschman, a fan of Pacific Theatre since he discovered it with his wife 15 years ago. For the last six years, he’s served as musical director for Pacific Theatre’s Christmas Presence holiday special. The semi-rehearsed event combines a house band of local musicians with readings courtesy of Ron Reed. Christmas Presence (what Ron Reed calls the ‘unslickest Christmas show in town’) “models in some ways a lot of what I think the church should be about,” says Boschman. “We’re all bringing what we have to the table, something that we offer together to the world. It’s an environment of grace. “As I look through the pages of Scripture and I see the amount of metaphor and image and the way Jesus taught asking questions, not always answering questions, answering them with more questions (laughs)… I just see so much theological richness in what [Pacific Theatre is] doing,” says Boschman. “They’re raising
“Theatre is really best at exploring what it’s like to be a human being.” its September to June season. PT auditions and hires professional actors, designers, and technicians for each show in their alley-style 128-seat theatre in the basement of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Vancouver. Art to explore human experience Part of Reed’s motivation for forming Pacific Theatre was to produce two pieces he knew no other theatre in Vancouver would touch: Cotton Patch Gospel and Damien (a one-man show about a priest who worked among lepers). “The actual play I would be in was more important to me than the role,” says Reed. “It was important for me to be part of a theatre company where we chose the plays.” Pacific Theatre is, according to Reed, essentially “non-propagandist.” It asks questions and considers possible answers without presenting one as the obvious choice. “I studied theology with J.I. Packer when I was at Regent College, and he defined propaganda in this way: answering a question before it’s been asked,” says Reed. “Theatre is really best at exploring human experience, exploring what it’s like to be a human being, rather than preaching a message.” 30
Ron Reed (r) in The Foreigner
Unintentional legacy The times haven’t always been successful for PT. For nearly all of the company’s first decade of existence, the theatre received little recognition from Vancouver’s artistic community. Many patrons and artists shied away from the perceived “Christian” label, and Reed struggled simply to get the company’s productions reviewed. Now Pacific Theatre is a prestigious name with more than 70 Jessie Richardson Award nominations (annual Vancouver theatre awards), and a thriving community of actors and patrons. This June, PT took the “outstanding performance by an actress in a lead role” award for Erla Faye Forsyth’s acting in How to Write a New Book for the Bible. Reed looks back over the 30-year history of the company with pride – and gratitude. “I didn’t mean to run a theatre company with my life,” he says. “I meant to be an actor and then a playwright, and Pacific Theatre seemed like a good way to get that done, but actually I came to see maybe this company is my legacy.”
Karyn Guenther in Leave of Absence
PHOTOS: COURTESY PACIFIC THEATRE
questions within our community and causing people to think about things.” Reed sees those questions reverberate within the cast also as they work to “understand the soul and life and decisions” of the characters they play. “There have been plenty of people who have worked at Pacific Theatre who don’t have an expressed faith commitment who very much go on a spiritual journey over the course of working on a show with us,” he says.
Ron Reed (l) in God’s Man in Texas
Ron Reed attends Fraserview MB in Richmond, B.C. Karyn Guenther currently attends the Artisan church plant, which is pastored by Nelson Boschman.
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
—Lawrence Klippenstein, director (1975–1997), Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg
“This multi-layered memoir winds its way through the delights and tragedies of three remarkable women: Mary, Erika, and Maureen. Golden threads of faith, hope, and love glisten throughout.” —Andrew Dyck, professor, Canadian Mennonite University
“With great grace and clarity, this book narrates how goodness and faith and love can flourish not only in Canada, but also live on and defy one of the darkest political regimes of the 20th century.” —Rudy Wiebe, author, Of this Earth:
A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest
“This memoir attests to our human impulse to recover the truth and it demonstrates the grace to sit with the silence of the past.”
R ANDY K L A SSEN
—Connie Braun, author, The Steppes are the Colour
“Very well researched and creatively written, Maureen’s memoir represents a unique portrait of two families, Baltic Luthera n and Russian Mennonite, in what was clearly a most difficult experience.”
IT HAPPENED IN MOSCOW
portrait of two families, Baltic Lutheran and Russian Mennonite, in what was clearly a most difficult experience.”
Randy, son of Harold Klassen, is a grandson to Mary Brieger —Lawren ce KlippensKlassen tein, director (1975–1997), Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg and her first husband Jakob Reimer. “This multi-layered memoir winds its way through the delights and tragedies of three remarkable women: Mary, Erika, and Maureen. Golden threads of faith, hope, Harold’s sister-in-law Maureen and love glisten through out.” —Andrew Dyck, professor, Canadian Klassen chronicles Mary’s story in Mennon It ite University 90000 Happened in Moscow (Kindred 2013). How could someone with as keen an “ will open my mouth with a parable,” sings the psalmist; “I will eye for numbers as 9 781894 791359 utter hidden things, things from of my dad (who was old.... We will not hide them from a quintessential their descendants; we will tell the “bean-counter”: 90000 next generation the praiseworthy accountant, deeds of the Lord, his power, church treasurer, a memoir of discovery and the wonders he has done” 781894 791359 and9inveterate (Psalm 78:2, 4). “pacer-off” of 9 781894 791359 But apparently not all deeds any new room or can be brought into the open. Even yard he chose to 9 781894 791359 the psalmist recognized that some visit) – how could wonders might remain hidden: someone like him “How can we sing the songs of the not know when Lord while in a foreign land?” his own parents (Psalm 137:4). immobility. She knew those secrets, were married? Grief, trauma, and exile often had held them close to her heart all I pushed back, and he eventulead to concealment, to family those years. ally told me that his parents were secrets. This has been a strong Perhaps there was for Grandma married in 1926, just before his theme in the emerging literature a comfort at not being able to speak third birthday. He offered me a of the Russian Mennonite story, them anymore, even if it came at few details (the few that he knew) from Peace Shall Destroy Many the cost of hardly being able to about his birth father, but I wasn’t (Rudy Wiebe, 1962) to This Hidden speak at all. In any case, on a dreary interested – or maybe, ready – to Thing (Dora Dueck, 2010). But it is day, December 16, 1976, exactly 50 hear it at the time. I certainly didn’t more than a mere Mennonite quirk. years, 12 weeks and 2 days after she want to hear the man’s name. The Indeed, it is intrinsic to the human pledged herself to C.F. in Moscow, only detail that stuck with me was condition. Or why would Adam and Grandma breathed her last, and that dad was to have been called Eve be hiding in the garden? took her secrets to the place where “Harold Paul” at his birth, but My father, Harold Klassen, first there are no secrets, and all the Communist authorities had told me his secret when I was 13. It is mercy. newly forbidden second names as was a junior-high homework assignDad was content to live with the bourgeois. ment: find out about your family unknown – or perhaps the word is And so I assumed that Dad’s tree. I pulled out an old black family resigned. I have no doubt that these birth father was named Paul. All Bible that was tucked away on dad’s unknowns, these uncertainties, other details remained a secret. bookshelf, and was excited to find shaped his character and his life’s Grandma (Mary Brieger Klassen) all sorts of information about C.F. journey in profound ways. And if was still alive at the time; it would be Klassen’s family, his relations, and his, then also mine and my siblings, only a matter of months before she indeed even about his wedding: the and on through all other family and would be released from her paralyanniversary date (11 September), friends who were touched by our sis, after years of being bedridden, who preached, sermon texts, and so father’s life. and see the Saviour she had served on. But behind the date, the year of And so it is that the remarkable, her whole life. Communication marriage was missing. providential journey of discovery with her was difficult, at least I asked my dad about this. He chronicled in Maureen’s book It for us grandchildren, somewhat was evasive – and I was puzzled. Happened in Moscow is a story intimidated by her suffering and
It happened in
Maureen S. Klassen
CURRENTLY in books It Happened in Moscow MAUREEN S. KLASSEN n the last century, many Mennonites in Russia survived World War I, revolution, civil war, anarchy, famine, epidemic, Stalin’s slave labour camps, forced relocation, World War II, emigration, and the rigours of establishing new lives in Canada. Along the way, there were many liaisons, secrets, terrors, mystery children, and stories too difficult to tell. In Ambassador to His People: C. F. Klassen and the Russian Mennonite Refugees (1990), Maureen Klassen focused on the life of her father-in-law, statesman C.F. Klassen, a widely known and respected late Mennonite Brethren leader. It Happened in Moscow, a project of the Historical Commission, published by Kindred Productions, tells the story of his wife, Mary Brieger Klassen, a Baltic Lutheran whom C.F. met in the Mennonite centre in Moscow in the 1920s when she worked there as secretary. Mary lived and worked in Moscow with her young child while her husband Jakob Reimer was sent to an engineering post in Tashkent. The marriage soon
dissolved. Jakob created a new family with a woman he met in Tashkent who gave birth to a daughter Erika. Divorce was relatively easy in Soviet times and Mary ended the marriage to Jakob. She was free to wed C.F. Klassen who adopted her son Harold. In 1928, they emigrated to Canada where C.F. continued to be a Mennonite leader until his untimely death in 1954. C.F. and Mary had another four children together. The highlight of the story is Erika’s search for her half-brother Harold Klassen (who lives in Canada) and their reunion in 1993 in Moscow where author Maureen and her husband Herb (Harold’s half-brother) were working at the newly formed MCC centre (later moved to Zaporozhye). For the first time, Harold saw his parents’ wedding picture and photos of his biological father – about whom he had little knowledge – holding him as a child. The mystery of their lives unfolded in letters Erika writes about her past to Harold in Clearbook, B.C., and during Maureen’s subsequent searches of old Soviet records concerning
for us all. Remarkable that Maureen and Herb would move to Moscow in the 1990s. Providential that Erika’s lifelong passion to find her brother would bear fruit while he was still alive, and that Dad was able to have two years to process his newfound identity before cancer returned and he was, as the biblical phrase goes, “gathered to his fathers.” Maureen has done us all (but especially those of “the tribe of Harold”) a great service in crafting this memoir of discovery: probing the life and character of a man who was virtually unknown to his firstborn son, outlining the grace-filled contours of one woman’s extraordinary life. But above all,
BOOK notes Jakob Reimer’s interrogation and execution in 1937. The book also tells of Mary’s life raising four little ones in Winnipeg as a single parent while C.F. criss-crossed the country, collecting the travel debt (Reiseschuld) for the CPR. He also worked in Europe helping Mennonite refugees emigrate. Mary moved the family to Clearbrook where she lived in the “glass house” son Herb built for her (now the Mark Centre). After C.F.’s untimely death in 1954, she supported herself by taking in out-of-town students attending Mennonite Educational Institute. Fact is indeed stranger than fiction. This story fills in more gaps about the Klassen family and also about the many lost ones who stayed in Russia and suffered under Stalin. It also reminds us of the silence surrounding many of the secrets of our own past, and perhaps will motivate us to research and learn more about our own ancestors. I couldn’t put the book down. Helen Rose Pauls is a member of Sardis Community Church, Chilliwack, B.C.
uncovering the fingerprints of the divine hand during some of the most ominous upheavals of the twentieth century. This tale is a story of secrets revealed, yes. But perhaps the greatest revelation is that in the midst of an ever-changing world of revolution and war, suffering and exile, migrations, marriages broken and renewed, there is One who endures as Emmanuel, which is “God with us.” Randy Klassen is a Bible instructor at Bethany College, Hepburn, Sask. This article first appeared in the Mennonite Historian, a publication of the Centre for MB Studies and the Mennonite Heritage Centre, both of Winnipeg.
In Changing Times JACOB AND HILDA BORN
This pot pourri of anecdotes and musings drawn from the life of octogenarian Hilda Born and her husband Jacob takes the reader from their Prairie childhoods, to life in the Fraser Valley, to travels in Europe and Africa. Hilda’s observant eye captures details that bring beauty to the mundane and her attuned heart finds spiritual lessons in the ordinary. The book also contains several original poems and family photographs.
The best is yet to be: The memoirs of Vern Heidebrecht Journeying from a dirt-poor farm in Alberta and B.C., to Bible college and seminary in Winnipeg and California, to pastorates from North Dakota to California to B.C., where he built Abbotsford megachurch Northview, Heidebrecht ends each episode with “the best is yet to be….” His gracious acceptance of difficulties, like his daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and his own diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, speak to his character, which was recognized by the City of Abbotsford with an award in 2006.
For Love of Family and Farming CORNELIUS PAULS
Take a stroll through colourful vignettes from the life of Cornelius Pauls. From childhood mischief to cross-country car trips, drugdealing neighbours, and close calls with death, the chapters of Pauls’ life always include church involvement – building relationships with youth, extending grace and love even when it’s challenging. He modelled that “the power of a dream is not in the details, but in its ability to inspire action,” writes son Tim in the foreword.
Fifty Shades of Grace: Stories of Inspiration and Promise MELODIE M. DAVIS, COMPILER
Breaking the rules, a conductor allows a passenger to step off the train at a whistle stop to hug her aged father before continuing her journey; a father who lost a daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing forgives the McVeigh family; a pastor who prays for God’s spirit on a bitter, dying woman receives a supernatural portion of love herself. These 50 chapters recount and reflect on experiences of grace in ordinary moments and life-changing events. Authors are students, seniors, pastors, laypeople, including MBs Lovella Schellenberg of Mennonite Girls Can Cook, and David Chow of Killarney Park MB Church, Vancouver. MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
Man of Steel ZACH SNYDER, DIRECTOR uperman is not a newcomer to pop culture. This displaced super-powered alien made his first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938. (Looks pretty good for his age, doesn’t he?) Over the years, writers have depicted Superman differently depending on current trends: he has taken on Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, even world hunger. There’s no doubt modern audiences will go see the new film Man of Steel (Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures) to be wowed by the action and larger-than-life scenarios, but superhero franchises have learned that audiences also expect comic movies to reflect meaningful social themes. Past movies have insinuated that Superman is a Christ-like figure. This film, however, is marketed directly to Christians as a tool to engage in spiritual discussion. Warner Bros Entertainment
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Does the church need Superman? Inc. actually invited pastors to free screenings, and created a sermon outline and conversation guides. (Available at www.manofsteel resources.com.) Parallels to Christ This is a story of a child of special birth, with immense power, raised in a humble setting by surrogate parents. At age 33, at the direction of his true father, he willingly surrenders his life to save humanity from evil. In an article featured on CNN.com one pastor said, “When I sat and listened to the movie I actually saw it was the story of Christ, and that the love of God was weaved into the story.” However, there’s a humanistic vein running throughout this film. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is surrounded by self-doubt, wandering around in various jobs trying to find his place in the world. Hesitant to use his supernatural abilities out of fear of being rejected, he wonders, “Why would God do this to me?”
Living into identity Eventually, he discovers his true identity (Kal-El from the extinct planet Krypton) and is introduced to a holographic projection of his real father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe). Clark returns home to Kansas, in turmoil over a memory of his earthly father’s (Kevin Costner) advice, “You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be because whoever that man is, good character or bad, he is going to change the world.” When other sur vivors of Krypton threaten Earth, Clark must decide who he will be. Will he remain hidden or surrender himself to save humanity? While contemplating this decision, he visits a church. With an image of Christ in the background, he asks: “If there is a chance that I can save the world by turning myself in, shouldn’t I take it? [General] Zod (Michael Shannon) can’t be trusted; the problem is I’m not sure the people of Earth can be either.” Receiving advice from a priest and Jor-El, Superman is left to choose between saving the remnants of Kryptonian civilization or the people of Earth. Which kingdom is more deserving of being saved?
Both ideas have merit, but here is another thought. Do the filmmakers intend to communicate a subversive message to Christians? Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.” Christians are often perceived to be judgmental, especially in recent social debates, whereas Jesus is perceived to be a friend of sinners. In a sense, this film could be asking Christians why we are not more like our Saviour. It’s not a bad question. As followers of Christ, all of us could stand to be more like Jesus: known by what we are for, rather than what we are against; better friends to those around us. Clark Kent can barely cope with the emotional trials of his own life, let alone the sin of the entire world. In that, he is as powerless as the rest of us. Are you content with someone that may save your life, or do you want someone who can save your soul? We have a responsibility to show the world that Jesus is not just Saviour, but also king. He will address sin and ultimately hold us all accountable. That is the only way the world can be truly saved.
A message to Christians? Whether accurate to the identity of Christ or not, spiritual parallels are embedded in the film. Why would filmmakers address such ideas in the first place? Has society finally realized its need for a saviour? Is this merely crass marketing to a lucrative Christian demographic?
Danny Ferguson is the area director for Youth Unlimited (Youth For Christ) in Langley, B.C. He is a graduate of Columbia Bible College, attends Jericho Ridge Community Church, and is an avid comic book reader. He loves being a husband to April and father to Joe, Avery, Micah, and Caleb. Danny blogs at www.proyouthworker.com.
of faith & life
The constructive power of words SANDRA REIMER
s the pile of loot in a book giveaway dwindled to the dregs, a writers’ conference I was attending offered a self-help book for Christians who have a problem with swearing. Awkward moments passed before one brave soul said, “Oh, what the h---!” and stood to claim the prize while the crowd erupted in laughter. Though most of us probably don’t struggle with gratuitous swearing, we may very well be trapped in a pattern of speaking destructively. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I’m sure “unwholesome” includes swearing, but I believe the territory is much larger than that. The MerriamWebster dictionary defines unwholesome as “detrimental to physical, mental, or moral well-being.” What are you offering your children, partner, coworkers, and others who drink daily from the fountain (or trickle) of your words? By becoming mindful of what and how we communicate, we can build others up. Soul food Written and spoken words are soul food. We all hear internal echoes of positive or negative remarks long after they are spoken to us. Our words are particularly potent for those under our leadership like our children, students, young athletes we coach, or teens in youth groups. I have not forgotten the words my Grade 9 English teacher scrawled in red pen on one of my essays: “Keep writing.” I also recall high school friends jokingly but repeatedly telling me, “You’re a klutz.” It took years to erase those words from my soul. Negative comments don’t
have to be at the level of verbal abuse or bullying to be destructive. Source of our communication What is the source of our communication and how can we keep it wholesome? Jesus taught that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (NRSV). In another translation, Luke 6:45b says, “Your words show what is in your heart.” Therefore the secret to
Sometimes I struggle to give an encouragement without including what could have been done better. We often say things like, “Dinner tasted fabulous, but it was late.” With God’s help, we can appreciate excellence but save perfection for heaven. Though there is danger in embedding a criticism in a compliment, it is equally sad when we miss opportunities to speak life by remaining silent. It could
By becoming mindful of what and how we communicate, we can build others up. constructive communication is a clean heart and a right attitude. Anger or bitterness will eventually leak out as poisonous words, no matter how hard you try to be nice. Talking through difficult situations and forgiving people helps to keep your communication constructive and your relationships functioning. Many destructive words are spoken in the heat of the moment. If you notice you’re becoming irritated with someone, lower the temperature by excusing yourself from the conversation. It’s much better to say, “I can’t talk about this right now,” than to spew lava-hot insults that burn into your listener’s soul. Giving unconditional compliments In Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships, management consultant Ken Blanchard encourages readers to catch people doing things right rather than focusing on their mistakes. It’s important to notice what others do well and to compliment them on it – even if the task was not done perfectly.
be as simple as saying, “That’s a great colour on you,” to a stranger, or “You did a great job on that report,” to a co-worker. And of course, it’s even more important to communicate loving words to the people closest to us. Notice and comment on what’s unique about your family members and friends. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Though we still need to point out problems, the balance of our speech can shift to include more encouragement. Let’s take time to notice and affirm whatever is “true, noble, beautiful, excellent, or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8), and watch new life spring up in the hearts of those who listen. As a mother of two, wife, soccer coach, business owner, and member at Glencairn MB Church in Kitchener, Ont. Sandra Reimer has plenty of opportunities to practice speaking constructively. MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD August 2013
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