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Letters May 2014

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Hold to confession of faith

Re “Lesbian Mennonite pastor licensed” (News in Brief, March). I was disturbed to read this article, which said, in part, that the “process centred around consideration of a person whose gifts and call to ministry are clearly affirmed yet is in a committed same-sex relationship.” I realize the article is about a conference in Denver, Colo., but I sincerely hope the Canadian MB conference will not be adopting this type of policy. Our statement of faith clearly states that “marriage is a covenant relationship intended to unite a man and a woman for life.” I pray that God will guide us as a Canadian conference to continue to hold true to our statement of faith that is grounded in his Word.

Della Dyck
Ruthven, Ont.

Live both extremes

Re “Altered landscapes” (Editorial, March). The late John Stott, giving his perspective on the
Calvinist-Arminian debate, responded succinctly with two verses which at first glance seem to contradict each other: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44a), and “Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). 

This would seem to imply that even though the Father draws one, each person still has to make the final decision. He was calling Christians to be both Calvinist and Arminian, in fact, “to live the truth at both extremes” not merely choose one or the other, or try to find the middle of the road. The old saying fits here: “Let’s be Calvinists on our knees (praying), and Arminians on our feet (dialoguing with people).”

Bob Sukkau
Abbotsford, B.C.

Open Letter

Statement of Anabaptist Church Leaders Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings Edmonton, Alta., Mar. 2014

We are leaders of a group of Canadian Christian churches known as Anabaptist denominations. Our delegation includes Mennonite Church Canada, the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, the Brethren in Christ Church of Canada, and Mennonite Central Committee Canada. Many people from our churches have come to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events, including this one, to volunteer, to listen, to learn.

We acknowledge that we are all treaty people and that we are meeting on Treaty 6 territory, on land that is part of an historic agreement between First Nations people and newcomers, an agreement involving mutuality and respect. 

Throughout the period of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events across the country, we have watched and listened with respect, as residential school survivors have told stories with graciousness and courage, sharing experiences of the Residential School Legacy from its beginning. We are humbled to witness this Truth and Reconciliation Commission event.

As we have listened to your stories, we’ve added our tears to the countless tears that you have shed. We acknowledge that there was, and is, much hurt and much suffering. 

We have learned much and we have much to learn. 

We heard the wise words of Justice Sinclair encouraging us to acknowledge that all of us, in one way or another, have been affected by the Residential School experience. We recognize that being part of a dominant culture, our attitudes and perspectives made the Residential School experience possible and that these attitudes and perspectives became entrenched in our relationships and in our culture.

We regret our part in the assimilation practice that took away language use and cultural practice, separating child from parent, parent from child, and Indigenous peoples from their culture. We regret that, at times, the Christian faith was used, wrongly, as an instrument of power, not as an invitation to see how God was already at work before we came. We regret that some leaders within the Church abused their power and those under their authority.

We acknowledge the paternalism and racism of the past. As leaders of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ church communities, we acknowledge that we have work to do in addressing paternalism and racism both within our communities and in the broader public. 

We repent of our denominational encounters with Indigenous Peoples that at times may have been motivated more by cultural biases than by the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. We repent of our failure to advocate for marginalized Indigenous Peoples as our faith would instruct us to. 

We are aware that we have a long path to walk. We hope to build relationships with First Nations communities so that we can continue this learning journey and walk this path together.

We are followers of Jesus Christ, the great reconciler. We are aware that words without actions are not only ineffective but may also be harmful. We commit ourselves to take your challenges to us very seriously. We will seek to model the reconciling life and work of Jesus in seeking reconciliation with you. We will encourage our churches to reach out in practical and loving ways, including dialogue and expressions of hospitality.

We commit ourselves to walk with you, listening and learning together as we journey to a healthier and more just tomorrow.

Thank you.

Tim Dyck, General Secretary, EMC
Willard Metzger, Executive Director,
MC Canada
Donald Peters, Executive Director,
MCC Canada
Willy Reimer, Executive Director, CCMBC
Douglas P. Sider, Jr., Canadian Director, BIC Canada

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 mbherald@mbconf.ca.

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