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March 25, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 7
Various Contributors |
(Graphic created by Betty Avery)

MC Canada’s ‘limbs’ are letting its ‘torso’ down
Re:A call to strengthen our core,” Feb. 17, page 4.

I am disappointed by the responses of the “limbs” to the cry of the “torso.” We must do better.

Doug Klassen, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, was very gentle. Some congregations and nationwide church bodies are hurting. It is much more exciting to give to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Mennonite Disaster Service, and our schools and camps, than it is to support leadership, church development and other soft ministries.

The “limbs” have strong donor development programs, all of which are a direct hit at the idea of strong congregations and conferences.

Decades ago, MCC alumni “salted” congregations and regional churches all across the country. The service program changed, but nobody and nothing is replacing the “salt.” Existing patterns have brought us to where we are now.

We used to say that we are a congregational people. Our agencies say they are based on the congregation, and receive people and money from the congregation. Are they not reading the writing the wall? Numbers, people, funds are all down.

Who is paying attention to the health of the garden by fertilizing, weeding and planning for new seeds? It seems that our “limbs” are carrying on, each in their own territories, hoping that business as usual will keep the garden in good shape. In our gardens here at home, that produces only weeds.

Let there be a meeting of these limbs—not about sharing and strengthening their own donor development—but about strengthening the torso, repairing and rebuilding the body, local, regional and nationwide. Fly the flag, sound the call.
—Ray Hamm, Neubergthal Man.

 

Churches need to better appreciate their volunteering members
Re:
A call to strengthen our core,” Feb. 17, page 4.

The reason I, and I suspect many others, are more passionate about Mennonite organizations than their own congregations comes down to an affirmation of gifts. When I donate my energy or money to a Mennonite organization, I often get a personal call or letter from someone in the organization who says, “Thank you. We really appreciate your donation, and can we count on you for your continued support?”

When members volunteered within our congregation, occasionally there was affirmation, but most times when the term ended or the job was done, they just went on their way. Sometimes it was worse, and members were simply not asked to continue in a role they had done for years, leaving them wondering if they had done something wrong or if they were simply bad at that role.

But when it got really bad for me personally, and I was told that I was not welcome to volunteer for the congregation because “you didn’t attend the Sunday morning service often enough and therefore you are no longer a member in good standing,” I had enough. Even though I was well connected with other church members, occasionally attended Sunday morning, generously provided financial support and had been a member for over 30 years, I walked.

In the famous words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam!”

The Mennonite congregation’s loss was the Mennonite organization’s gain. When will the leadership of congregations stop taking members for granted, be less judgmental, and learn to be better at affirming gifts? 
—John Piera, Calgary
The writer attends Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary.

 

Do projection screen enhance Sunday worship?
I ran across this quote a few months ago in a church magazine:

“How should [a screen] function in worship? What does having a screen in worship mean? These are not always the first questions asked by those who envision the endless possibilities for projector-screen technology in worship. In fact, we have discovered along the way that projector-screen technology’s values can at times pull against some of our core values of worship. Keeping technology’s possibilities and worship’s core values equally yoked is a matter for ongoing discussion” (reformedworship.org).

With screens being ubiquitous in society at large, it is easy for the church to embrace them, as well, without asking basic questions:

  • Does the use of screens reduce or inhibit person-to-person interaction?
  • Do videos stifle individual imagination?
  • How will singing from a screen affect four-part singing?
  • Does using material from online sources become an easy out to replace thoughtful, focused planning?
  • Do screens create an intrusion on quiet meditation and silence?
  • Do we have the skills and technology to seamlessly integrate the use of a screen into worship without taking away from the intended focus?

I wonder if we have let screens become part of our church and worship culture without really thinking through what values they are promoting. It seems to me that the church’s mandate is to promote and encourage interaction between people, and it’s important that everything we do in church enhances that effort.
—Ken Drudge, Komoka, Ont.

 

MCC thanked for supporting grandparents’ immigration to Canada
Re:
Compelled by Christ to serve,” Feb. 17, page 16.

As a descendant of Russian Mennonites who arrived in Rosthern, Sask., in 1923, I have always been fascinated about the logistics of how my grandparents came to Canada. The efforts of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) during the 1920s were truly heroic and their legacy enormous. I hope that MCC is acknowledged in Canada’s immigration history.
—Joanne Epp (online comment)

 

Possible futures for RJC pondered
Re:
Becoming a missional school,” Jan. 20, page 24.

How about turning the land and the facility back to First Nations in the area, so they can develop their own high school. I am guessing there would be more than enough First Nations students within bussing distance of Rosthern Junior College (RJC) to make this feasible.
—Kathy Shantz (Facebook comment)

I find it interesting that nobody ever asks the question: “Is the mission over?” It’s like we think schools, organizations and churches are supposed to last forever.
—John Longhurst (Facebook comment)

 

Teacher/pastor thankful for Bill Kruger’s influence in his life
Re:A life of grace and holy impatience,” Feb. 3, page 18.

As a teacher at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., from 1973 to 1977, I, too, was mentored by Bill Kruger, and I have meaningful memories of my time at Rockway and my relationship with him. His deep vision for Mennonite education and its relationship to the church has remained with me. Bill’s gracious spirit and his fearless engagement with those things he believed to be important have shaped me and so many others.

My call to pastoral ministry was in part shaped by Bill’s love for the church and respect for me.

I give thanks for Bill’s life and for all the many ways God’s Spirit was embodied in him.
—Robert Smith (online comment)

(Graphic created by Betty Avery)

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