page 20 - Rockway Mennonite Church



page 20 - Rockway Mennonite Church
Number 8, February 2009
We packed school kits for MCC… (page 18)
…and reenacted the timeless Christmas story (page 20)
Pastor’s column — The importance of practices
I attended Pastors’ Week at
Associated Mennonite Biblical
Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, at
the end of January and was
inspired by the worship and the
input. The hymn singing in the
seminary chapel is always spectacular. The room is acoustically
alive and filled with people who
sing well and with gusto. The
presenter for the week was Diana Butler-Bass, an author
and American church historian. As do most non-Mennonite
presenters, she commented on the strength of the congregational singing. She then went on to report on her recent
major research project involving a number of thriving mainline Protestant congregations in the US. The research is
written up in a book entitled Christianity For the Rest of Us:
How the Neighbourhood Church is Transforming the Faith.
Butler-Bass grew up in an evangelical denomination and
has since joined the Episcopalians. The common perception
is that North American mainline churches are dying, and
she sought to question this assumption by highlighting
particular churches that are thriving. She spent significant
time in fifty congregations throughout the U.S. and
discovered some interesting commonalities among them. In
all cases, these vibrant churches were finding ways of
engaging their members in Christian practices. By Christian
practices she means habits, rituals and activities that have a
clear rationale, are tied to Christian tradition and that bring
Walking safely on snow and ice
Here are some guidelines gleaned from several websites —, or —
and experience!
1. Wear boots with treads that are not worn bare.
2. Walk at a slower pace than usual.
3. Take short steps.
4. Walk flatfooted (plant heel and toe simultaneously).
5. Walk with feet farther apart than usual
so your centre of gravity is always
between your feet.
6. Walk with your feet pointed
somewhat outwards, like a penguin.
7. On really icy surfaces, bend your
knees to lower your centre of gravity.
8. Keep your hands out of your pockets and spread your
arms outwards to help maintain balance.
9. If you fall backward, tuck your chin so your head won’t
hit the ground with full force. Ω
2 February 2009/Rockway News
transformation in people’s lives. Examples would include
things such as worship, hospitality, theological reflection,
testimony, healing and service. Each congregation seemed
to form an identity around a handful of these practices
which were done with integrity.
One practice that caught my attention was testimony. I
usually associate testimony with the evangelical tradition
and was surprised to hear it discussed within the mainline
context. She told a story of one particular church in
Connecticut that was revived through this practice of
spiritual storytelling within worship. It was not the
traditional style of telling the classic conversion experience,
but rather a practice of people learning to speak honestly
about their faith journey in public. It often included sharing
as many questions as answers. The testimonies were often
idiosyncratic and unfinished. But as people learned to risk
sharing their spiritual stories, the congregation grew in its
attentiveness to God and to the people in its midst. New
people started to arrive because this church was
empowering the voices of the average members. People
experienced the congregation as authentic and as a safe
place to explore what it means to seek and follow God. The
congregation discovered that there were lots of people in the
city who were looking for a safe place to explore questions
of meaning and purpose in their lives.
This strikes me as a very Anabaptist practice in that it
involves all members of the congregation. Each member
is invited to take responsibility for their own journey and
to risk sharing it with the community. Questions are just
as welcome as answers. Here at Rockway we practice this
sort of “testimony” but we do it mostly in our summer
services where attendance is smaller and where the setting
is more informal. I was left wondering if there might be
other ways and places to share our stories with one another
throughout the year.
-Scott Brubaker-Zehr Ω
Rockway News is published triannually
by Rockway Mennonite Church.
Managing editor: Lewis J. Brubacher [LJB]
Advisory group, feature writers:
Mary Burkholder
Betti Erb
Brian Hunsberger
Margaret Loewen Reimer
David Willms
Photos: Marg Butt and Lewis Brubacher
We welcome letters to the editor and
suggestions for articles. Contact Lewis at:
519-884-3072; [email protected]
Happy Events
By Mary Burkholder
Gwenyth Shalom StempMorlock, second
daughter of Graeme and
Laura, was born at Grand
River Hospital on October
23, 2008. The delighted
parents say they chose the
name “Gwenyth”, a
derivative of the Welsh
word for “happiness”,
because of Graeme’s
Welsh family connections. And a desire to find
a middle name that
reflected their close ties to
the Arab community led to “Salaam” and then to the
Hebrew “Shalom”, which sounded better.
Graeme and Laura report that Lily loves being a big sister
and shows her affection with huge hugs. The family
values its new location on Roy Street, which is close to the
Rockway church community and downtown amenities —
even though they had to vacate the house during January
while it was rewired.
• • • • • • • •
Darren Brunk and Sally
Teleri Garden are pleased
to announce they will be
getting married on July 4,
2009 at Sally’s family farm
in Gwyned, North Wales.
Darren and Sally met while
both were studying at
Aberystwyth in Wales.
Though Sally was born in
Wales and grew up in New Zealand, she says she’s
learning to love winters in Ottawa, where Darren and Sally
have been settled since 2007. If you’d like to learn more
about their wedding celebration, they invite you to visit
their website at
Meanwhile, Darren mentions that both he and Sally are
getting settled into new jobs with the federal government.
Sally is working with the Canadian Forest Service of
Natural Resources Canada to protect Canadian forests
from invasive species. Darren is with the Department of
Foreign Affairs in the Conflict Prevention and
Peacebuilding Group, with a focus on Colombia.
We wish you both well in these new positions and in your
plans for your summer wedding.
• • • • • • • •
Sam Steiner retired from his position at Conrad Grebel
University College at the end of December. He shares a
few reflections here:
“Thirty-four years as archivist (determining which
unpublished papers related to the history of Mennonites in
Ontario should be preserved, and assisting researchers in
using the papers), and librarian at Conrad Grebel University
College came to an end for me in December 2008. It was a
career I did not anticipate until the early 1970s when I
finished my BA at Conrad Grebel College and fortuitously
studied with professors Frank Epp and Walter Klaassen,
among others. Earlier I had contemplated computer
programming and law. Major highlights of my time at
Grebel were the move to the new third floor library space in
1976 in the then-new academic building, and the dramatic
changes in technology that impacted even dusty corners of
the archives! Working with two colleagues in the library for
almost thirty of those years was also special.
“Since December, the major adjustments so far (nine days
at time of writing!) are developing a routine for
maintaining my volunteer work for the internet-based
Mennonite Encyclopedia, beginning new activities (such
as the Monday morning Rockway Trail Walkers), and
gearing up for a major research project on the history of
Mennonites in Ontario in cooperation with the Mennonite
Historical Society of Ontario.” Ω
Biblical sudoku
There’s a Bible reference in the first row. Each character
listed above the grid is to appear once in each row, once in
each column and once in each 3x3 subgroup. To complete
the puzzle, memorize the scripture. Solution on page 5. LJB
Rockway News/February 2009 3
Stories of Faith — Mary (Wiebe) Dyck (1919-2008)
This is an abridged version of the eulogy Howard Dyck
wrote and read at his mother's funeral on September 13,
In his book The Prophet, the Lebanese poet and
philosopher Kahlil Gibran addresses many of the great
themes of life — love, marriage, freedom, pain, friendship,
reason and passion. Included in this litany is the great
universal theme of death, the reality that each of us must
face. Here in part, is what Gibran has to say:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and
to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may
rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall
you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you
shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall
you truly dance.
On Monday, September 8, Mary Dyck, having drunk from
the river of silence, began indeed to sing, joining her voice
with the great celestial choir, and, the earth laying claim to
her limbs, she began to dance that great, eternal, cosmic
dance of life. She responded to the voice of God in her
favourite scripture passage from the book of Isaiah,
Chapter 43, read at the memorial service by her greatgrandson Justin, “I have called you by name”.
Mary Annie Wiebe was born on March 1, 1919, to Jacob
and Mary Wiebe in the Zion School District near Winkler,
Manitoba. She professed her Christian faith at an early
age and was baptized and received into the Winkler
Mennonite Brethren Church. Her interest in music was
evident as a young schoolgirl. One of her earliest mentors
was her devoted school teacher, Isaac Voth, who taught
her the rudiments of music. She spent one year at the
Winkler Bible School where she enjoyed singing in the
school choir. Later she was pleased that her three sons
were able to learn to play the piano.
On June 8, 1940, she married John Dyck from the
neighbouring Burwalde School District. They enjoyed 51
years together until his death in 1992, on her 73rd
birthday. For several years they farmed near Dominion
City, during which time their first son, Howard, was born.
They also lived in St. Boniface for one winter where John
earned some extra income working at Canada Packers.
The rest of their life was spent, first on the Burwalde farm,
4 February 2009/Rockway News
and then in Winkler.
During their retirement
years, Mom and Dad,
together with a number of
their close friends, enjoyed
many winters in Desert Hot
Springs, California.
Mom’s favourite times were
the summer trips to
northern Manitoba in the
camper on the back of the
pickup truck.
Mom’s first love in life was always her family. She spent
many hours helping us with our homework and music
lessons. We would sit at the piano struggling to learn a
rhythm, while Mom would count loudly from wherever in
the house she happened to be: “One-two-three, one-twothree”. So convincing was her beat that I feared once or
twice she would break the then-ironclad Mennonite edict
against dancing!
Sewing was another of her passions. Although entirely
self-taught, she became an accomplished seamstress,
sewing wedding dresses for two of her daughters-in-law as
well as one grandchild’s baptismal gown, and a First
Communion dress and vest. These truly were gifts of love
which will be forever cherished.
Being a farmer’s wife, Mom had a great interest in the
weather. She often said that, had she had the opportunity,
she might well have become a meteorologist. Even this
past summer she would report to her far-flung brood how
the crops were doing. Just a few weeks ago, she was
delighted to be taken to Ted and Marge’s farm for supper
out on the field during threshing season. During her recent
extended stay with Chas and Joanne, they would take her
out for walks in her wheelchair or drives in their new
truck. How she enjoyed observing the unfolding of
another spring and summer.
Music was always an important part of Mom’s life. In
latter years, she took special pleasure in attending her
grandchildren’s recitals or travelling to KitchenerWaterloo to attend one of my performances with the Grand
Philharmonic Choir. In one of my last conversations with
her, she told me that the St. Matthew Passion by Johann
Sebastian Bach was her favourite work. As I was thinking
about what to say today about our darling mother,
grandmother and great-grandmother, I couldn’t help but be
reminded of the words in the closing section of that great
work, words which meant so very much to her, and which
more than once moved her to tears:
We sit down in tears and call
To Thee in the tomb:
Rest softly, softly rest!
Mom and Dad took great pleasure in all their grandchildren.
Grandma’s cooking and Grandpa’s motorcycle rides will
always be remembered. After Dad’s death, Mom was
thrilled by the arrival of two more grandchildren and three
great-grandchildren, but she frequently wished that Dad
could have been there with her to share in the excitement.
She often expressed pride in her three sons — Howard, the
conductor and broadcaster; Chas, the music therapist and
latterly real estate agent; and Ted, the municipal politician
who is proudly continuing the family farming tradition.
Having no daughters of her own, Mom basked in the
warmth and affection of her three daughters-in-law.
Mom was predeceased by her husband John and her sister
Annie. Left to cherish her memory are her children
Howard and Maggie, Chas and Joanne, Ted and Marge;
grandchildren Anthony (married to Vanessa), Kristine,
Jeremy (married to Janice), Cliff (married to Catherine),
Pauline (married to David), and Toban (married to Jamie),
Lexi and Jonathan, and great-grandchildren Keziah, Justin
and Trudi. She is fondly remembered by her brother Jake
who visited her faithfully to the very end.
Solution to biblical sudoku on page 3
The solution is: Psalm 46:1 — God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble.
Reimer receives UW honour
We love you, Mom, we miss you now and always will, but
we know you are now striding through celestial wheat
fields, where the weather is perfect and there is always just
enough rain. And your alto voice has never sounded more
vibrant! You truly have been “called by name” and you
have answered that call.
John Donne’s timeless poetry reminds us of the ultimate
impotence of death.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
And then, at the end, comes the poet/preacher’s soaring
declaration of eternal life, a clarion call of hope to all of us
today who grieve the death of Mary Dyck.
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Farewell and goodbye, dearest Mom, Grandma, Greatgrandma! Ω
Jim Reimer received the title “Distinguished Professor
Emeritus” at the University of Waterloo convocation on
October 25, 2008. Here he receives the diploma from
Chancellor Mike Lazaridis (better known as the founder of
Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry). The
citation noted Jim’s contributions to the study of “German
theology and politics in the 1920s and ’30s, modern
theology and technology, critical theory and the future of
religion, theology and ethics, and the relationship of
Mennonite theology to the ecumenical Christian tradition.”
It also cited his role in founding the Toronto Mennonite
Theological Centre and Grebel’s graduate program in
theology, which now offers a U of W degree. Jim’s
parting comment to Lazaridis: “If you ever want to have
lunch with a theologian, let me know.” Ω
Rockway News/February 2009 5
A conversation with Phil Dick
By Betti Erb
Phil Dick was born in 1957 in Leamington, Canada’s
“Tomato Capital” — the home of HJ Heinz, the largest
concentration of greenhouse production in the world, and
home to seven Mennonite churches.
Leamington’s Russian Mennonites came in the 1920s from
south Russia. Many, like Phil’s forebears on his paternal
side, came from Schoenfeld Colony. The Schoenfeld tract
was a third the size of Waterloo County: approximately
200 farms and estates totaling more than 180,000 acres.
Some estates ran beyond the colony borders. Schoenfeld
was entirely destroyed by 1921. Many Schoenfelders
gathered in southwestern Ontario’s tobacco fields, where
even the ministers were share-croppers and anyone could
earn a penny a pound through the Depression. A family of
eight or ten could earn $600 a year and grow enough
watermelons to make enough extra “Arboosen Syrop”
(watermelon syrup) to sweeten a year’s worth of
communion bread – a sweet leavened ‘platz’ or loaf that
looks like honeycomb and tastes as sweet.
As one of five boys and two girls, Phil began life on a
tobacco, dairy and vegetable farm. When Phil was four his
dad, Herm (younger brother to long-time UW professor Bill
Dick), built greenhouses. By the time Phil was six his
father had returned his tobacco quota to the government
without compensation. (Only three tobacco farmers in
Canada have ever done that.)
Phil grew up across the creek from a one-room
schoolhouse, Gore Hill, a place where, history books
suggest, Lt. Governor Gore made the treaty with a
Shawnee warchief named Tecumseh whose First Nations
alliance kept most of the American army out of Canada
during the War of 1812. Phil recalls the honour of being
flag boy. He had a wonderful time spear fishing and
running in the woods when he wasn’t picking tomatoes.
German was spoken in his home congregation, Oak Street
Mennonite. (“All God language was German,” he says.)
From 1971 to 1975, Phil attended high school at United
Mennonite Educational Institute, a five-minute drive in a
fast car from home. He sang in the school choir, played
baseball and was part of UMEI players, the school’s drama
group. (Later he got involved in community theatre in
Leamington.) He was baptized by age 18, “Three times,”
he says. Somehow much of the baptismal water from the
boys on either side of him got onto Phil; the sprinkling
ritual turned into a real splash. “It was enough that the
minister ran out of water and had to go bless some more
for the rest of the baptismal candidates.”
6 February 2009/Rockway News
The next educational stop was
the University of Western
Ontario, where he did an
undergrad degree in Symbolic
Anthropology, with a double
minor in Physical Geography
and Archeology. After
graduation in spring 1982 he
and some friends headed to
Edmonton to fight fires, the
west being extremely dry at the
time. After a gentle rejection from Alberta’s Ministry of
Natural Resources, Phil got three other job offers that same
morning. Choosing adventure, he headed into the oilfields
between the Peace and Athabaska Rivers, 250 miles north
of Edmonton. He was on a rig by nightfall.
That half-summer’s employment exacted a physical toll.
He returned to Leamington mid-summer and family
members scarcely recognized him. Sixty pounds of added
muscle masked his swollen ligaments and several broken
(literally) bones. Back home he spent the rest of the
summer loading tomatoes on the family farm, then took a
string of jobs in agricultural sales, as a fresh produce buyer
and a dowser or water witcher for an oil exploration
company in Essex and Kent Counties. In 1986, he became
Product Manager at Omstead Foods, in Wheatley, Ontario.
During this time Phil joined the board of directors of
Friends of Point Pelee National Park, an association
supporting research and ecological preservation of Pelee’s
fragile Carolinian habitat. He was instrumental in helping
to develop a “Friends” network throughout Canada’s
national park system and through many of Ontario’s
premier provincial parks.
Phil spent a year with the Greenhouse Marketing Board,
during which he managed seven warehouses. In 1990 the
marketing board went into receivership. Within days he
was working at Chrysler’s main distribution centre in
Mississauga, picking up parts for repair shops while
searching for a longer-term job in the Toronto area.
Phil joined Toronto United Mennonite Church in 1991
following his uncle, Bill Dick, a one-time pastor at TUMC.
That year Phil began managing a factory in Caledonia,
winning few friends among management for hiring natives
to work in what he dubs “a dirt factory” — a factory that
produced potting soil and hydroponic equipment. He
joined Pax Christi Chorale and became involved in a book
club at which he met Vic Reimer, who would in due time
become his father-in-law.
In 1992, Phil began working for the then-called Ministry
of Agriculture and Food as an export development trainer,
instructing personnel from some 250 Ontario companies
on exporting to the United States. He first met Wendy
Reimer at the Toronto Harbourfront Christmas Relief Sale
in December in 1992. He and Wendy married in summer
1996. That autumn Phil’s office relocated to Guelph. He
commuted for a time as Wendy’s medical practice was
based in Toronto.
Although Phil and Wendy valued living near her parents,
in 1997 they moved to Waterloo Region, settling in Breslau
and attending Breslau, then Waterloo North Mennonite
Church. In 2005 they began attending Rockway.
Presently Phil is Energy and Environment Advisor for
the Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs. (As Phil
puts it, his bailiwick is planes, trains, trucks and autos,
hydro, water, sewers and gas.) He travels across the
province on bioenergy issues. He is the ministry lead on
dealing with food waste issues and inducing climate
change action — working to make food companies aware
of environmental programs and services around water and
energy efficiency. He was part of the ministry’s working
group on the Great Lakes Water Accord, the Nutrient
Management Act and the Low Water Response Team. He
is a public speaker to companies, forums, policy think
tanks and government. This past fall he travelled to the
United Kingdom, Germany and Holland on a fact-finding
mission on water and waste management. “I am always
focused on the stewardship angle,” he says, knowing well
that when energy use is measured the users can act
responsibly. “My job involves industry makeovers,
helping industry unmake their environmental demon image
and overcome regulatory roadblocks that otherwise drive
them offshore.”
Phil and Wendy have four sons, Jacob, Keenan, Jesse and
Kai, ranging from age 11 to 22. For Phil, parenting is one
of life’s greatest challenges. He comments that he
interacts all the time with CEOs and other leaders, giving
careful attention to the bottom line. Yet maintaining a
healthy emotional bottom line in family life, he says,
requires true dexterity of mind. He keeps busy as a scout
leader and in his vegetable garden. He and Wendy are part
of a dinner club. “We are Scrabblers,” Phil says. “I think
it is one of those connection things that we were both
needing in each other. I like to play even though Wendy
usually wins.”
In the summer of 2007, Phil, Wendy and sons had an
amazing six-week adventure in Africa, under the auspices
of Caring Partners. They were in Matangwe in Kenya, on
the north shore of Lake Victoria, 20 miles from the
Ugandan border. Wendy worked in a medical clinic and
Phil did an agricultural assessment. The trip had a
significant impact on all of them. “We expect to go back
there soon,” he says. Ω
Five-on-the-floor and spouses enjoyed a week in Cuba January 19-26, relaxing at an all-inclusive resort and
spending a day exploring old Havana. Left to right: Jim Reimer, Henry Schmidt, Margaret Reimer, Ron Harder,
Eleanor Harder, Irene Schmidt, Linda Janzen, Bob Janzen. The comforts and beauty of the resort contrasted sharply
with ventures into the countryside where we encountered the utter impoverishment of the people and their reliance on
a black market economy. The week was highly educational and utterly relaxing at the same time. We're already
planning a trip for next year. — Margaret Loewen Reimer
Rockway News/February 2009 7
Epp delivers 2008 Eby Lecture
Marlene Epp delivered the 2008
Benjamin Eby Lecture to a
packed house at Conrad Grebel
University College on November
21, 2008. Her topic: Women
who ‘made things right’:
Midwife-Healers in Canadian
Mennonite Communities of the
The Benjamin Eby Lecture
Series, established in 1981, is a
forum for Grebel faculty
members to share their research and reflections with the
larger college and university communities. The Lecture
Series is named after Benjamin Eby (1785-1853), a bishop
and leader in the Mennonite Church and in education in
Upper Canada. A farmer by vocation, he was also a writer,
editor and advocate for books and scholarship.
Marlene told several stories of midwives who worked in
Mennonite communities. Contrary to popular belief that
these women were untrained, in fact many took training
overseas or were apprenticed with doctors, nurses and
other midwives. Having a Mennonite midwife meant a
mother could be assured of shared cultural practices, from
the comforting to the theologically distinctive: a
Mennonite midwife would speak the mother tongue of her
patient, would be aware of cultural norms and be able to
provide soothing foods. In the sixteenth century, having
an Anabaptist midwife also meant that no emergency
infant baptism would be performed.
Marlene also noted the vital contributions of local midwife
Elsie Cressman, who attended the lecture, in moving
midwifery into the modern era as a renewed, popular
practice. For more about Elsie, see our Story of Faith in
the March 2008 issue of Rockway News, pages 6-7.
The lecture was also the occasion for the launch of
Marlene’s newest book, Mennonite Women in Canada: A
History. The book is available at The Bookshop at
Pandora Press for $26.95. The section on midwifery is a
part of Chapter 2. LJB
Book notes
Paul Born has recently produced several books related to
his work with Tamarack: An Institute for Community
Engagement. Paul co-founded Tamarack in 2002 to work
on community building and poverty reduction. Community
Conversations was mentioned in the September 2008
newsletter. Other new books:
• Creating Vibrant Communities, edited by Paul
(Toronto: BPS Books, 2008), shares information and
stories from Vibrant Communities Canada, an
organization that works at community change and
reducing poverty.
• Leaderful Communities (2008) explores the nature of
community leadership and suggests how organizations
and communities can reduce poverty.
• Seeking Community: Finding Belonging in Chaotic
Times is scheduled for publication this year. For more
information, visit or
Amazon books.
interests, from Chaucer to Pietism to the Oxford
Movement, from “Jewish traditions in the debate over the
Virgin” to “Why were the Anabaptist so scary?” Among
the 23 contributors are Dennis Martin (on cloistered monks
as “world-watchers” in the Middle Ages), Susan Rudy (on
lesbian writer John Radclyffe Hall), Leonard Friesen
(public apologies and the search for a just society), and
A. James Reimer (a Mennonite-Catholic conversation).
The book was launched at a retirement celebration for
Peter on November 7.
Tradition and Formation: Claiming an Inheritance is a
Festschrift in honour of Peter Erb, published by Pandora
Press. The essays range across Peter’s academic/religious
This column, prepared by Margaret Loewen Reimer, will
appear from time to time. Keep her informed about books
you have written as they appear. Ω
8 February 2009/Rockway News
David Waltner-Toews has published Food, Sex, and
Salmonella: Why our food is making us sick (Greystone
Books, 2008), and co-edited a book on The Ecosystem
Approach: Complexity, uncertainty, and managing for
sustainability (Columbia University Press, 2008).
David’s 2007 novel, Fear of Landing, was re-issued in
2008 by Poisoned Pen Press.
Who we are (pages 9-12)
Tim Plett, Maria Boehm and Sarah Boehm
By Tim Plett
have definitely helped the transition
to (recently have-not status)
southern Ontario.
Maria and I met while attending
Canadian Mennonite Bible
College in the late 1990s. After
Sarah has become the focus of our
a few years, she — a Swiss
lives right now. Our pint-sized
Mennonite from St. Jacobs —
dictator determines what music we
and I — a hick “flatlander” from
listen to, what most of our meals
Landmark, Manitoba — wooed
consist of, and whether the actual
and married. Shortly thereafter
accomplishments match what Maria
we both completed our
and I planned to accomplish on a
undergraduate degrees, Maria in
given day. She has also made us
nursing and I in education.
laugh more, smile more, rejoice in
Wanting to leave the bustling
the little wonders of life, and
metropolis of Winnipeg, we
SLOW DOWN. Who knew that
headed north to work in
walking to the park could be just as,
Thompson, Manitoba. There we
if not more, fun than actually
enjoyed the cold, sunny weather
playing in the park? Who could
Clockwise from left: Tim, Maria and Sarah
and the outdoor lifestyle —
have guessed that a mono-plotline
camping, canoeing, fishing and
children’s show such as Dora the
skiing. The health of Maria’s father led to a decision to
Explorer could be so fascinating — to anyone? Or that
move to Kitchener after three years in Thompson.
listening to some children’s song with a highly repetitive
techno-beat background would inspire fits of dancing and
Our time in Kitchener has included: the acquisition of jobs
giggling? It’s neat to watch, and the love of life Sarah
— Maria, a nurse within the confines of the Grand River
exhibits is infectious.
Emergency Room, and I, teaching English at Grand River
Collegiate — the (continuing) renovation of our old house,
Church-wise, Maria and I both grew up within the
closer ties to family, getting to know some great people
Mennonite tradition. Landmark Evangelical Mennonite
whom we are proud to call friends, and (of course) the
Church, a number of years of house church (consisting of a
birth of our first spawn, Sarah. In many ways, leaving
group of friends), and Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in
Manitoba was and still is hard, but the good things here
Winnipeg rounded out my formative church-going years.
Maria attended St. Jacobs Mennonite Church. After we
were married, we attended Fort Garry and then Thompson
United Mennonite Church (TUMC). The year we moved to
Kitchener was the year Thompson United closed its doors
after a storied history. Coincidentally, I was the church
treasurer the year TUMC disbanded — only coincidence: no
evidence to link me with any wrongdoing, skimming “off
the top”, or voting for the Conservative Party of Canada.
Visiting at the January potluck
Rockway Mennonite Church has been, in many ways, a
good fit for our family. We have been able to walk to
church, have gotten to know a number of people within the
church community, and have been able to participate in a
few “extracurricular” activities (hockey and slo pitch).
And Sarah enjoys playing in the nursery. We have been
blessed in so many ways and we thank you, Rockway
Mennonite Church, for continuing the blessing of
community in our lives. ω
Rockway News/February 2009 9
Betti Erb and Greg van Horn
Betti writes:
I was born on January 16, 1953, the fourth of
eight Burkholder children, and grew up on a
farm near Markham. After high school, I
completed two years of a three-year degree
program in Journalism at Ryerson University,
then a BA in English from the University of
Toronto and a BEd from Queen’s University.
I have always been interested in theology at a
lay level and in 1990 completed a Master of
Theological Studies degree from Conrad
Grebel University College.
At 21, I married John Erb from Preston,
Ontario. I thought it was a good life. In 1997
our family moved to Washington State,
looking to have an adventure in the Pacific
Northwest. From 1998 to 2003 we lived in Seattle,
Washington. But in 2003, an inexpressible sorrow: I
learned I was “un-chosen” by my husband.
Single again, I returned to Kitchener-Waterloo on “blackout
weekend” in August 2003. Through the matchmaking of
our own Henry Schmidt, Greg Van Horn and I encountered
one another a year later and we married in May 2005. We
have found a happy home here in Rockway congregation.
(Greg had an “in”, having played hockey for a decade with
a goodly number of men from Rockway.) We are happy; I
am grateful for grace.
I have two sons, Nicholaus and Conrad. Nick is a general
surgeon at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Orillia. Nick
and his wife Becky have a one-year-old son, Silas. Conrad
is a wedding and commercial photographer in Philadelphia.
Over the years I have enjoyed a variety of jobs, from
Communications Coordinator at Conrad Grebel to
administrator of a large Lutheran church in downtown
Seattle. During most of my time in Seattle, I was a writer
with the Seattle Department of Transportation. It was
intriguing to be a public servant in a major city in the
largest liberal democracy in the world. I have been an alto
chorister in Menno Singers since 1981, minus those few
years in Seattle, and president of the choir from 1985 to
1995. For eight years I was publicity chair for the Ontario
Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg.
I love to write and “do theology”. I read anything, I walk
two hours per day, rain or shine, and I cannot fathom life
without classical music. At present I am doing full-time
supply teaching locally. I love the energy of secondary
school students. I am forward looking and outward bound.
I remain grateful for the wonders of God’s world and
Christ’s church, in all its tattered frailty.
10 February 2009/Rockway News
Greg writes:
I was born on September
14, 1954 in Sudbury,
Ontario. My parents still
live in the house I grew up
in. My younger brother and
sister still live in the
Sudbury area; an older
brother died of a heart
attack in February 1997, at
age 48. After high school I
attended Laurentian
University, earning an
Honours BA in Français,
and a Certificate of
Bilingualism. I was also
given the “Prix de
l’Ambassadeur de Suisse au Canada” for being the top
student in the Français program in my graduating year, a
recognition that made me proud as most of the other
students in the program were francophones! I continued
my studies at the University of Western Ontario earning a
BEd, specializing in French and Librarianship.
I married my high school sweetheart Penni (Penelope
Jennings) in August 1977. Upon graduating from
teacher’s college I landed a job in Kitchener where Penni
and I raised two children, Darryl (age 29) and Tara (age
27). Darryl works in Cambridge for an electrical
engineering firm and Tara is working full time at Rogers
having recently completed her English degree from the
University of Waterloo. Our family was devastated in
August 2001 when Penni died of breast cancer at age 45.
I have taught French and Latin at Eastwood Collegiate for
30 years. I thoroughly enjoy it. I have no plans to retire in
the immediate future although I became eligible to do so in
February 2009. It is at Eastwood, about 10 years ago, that
my Rockway connection actually began when my then
colleague and fellow French teacher Roger Baer invited
me to play hockey on Tuesday nights with the Rockway
men. I feel blessed to have forged many wonderful
friendships through hockey and, as Betti noted, if not for
the matchmaking skills of goalie Henry Schmidt, I would
likely not be writing this story today.
In addition to teaching, I enjoy reading, sports of all kinds (in
particular I enjoy running and often compete in 5- and 10-km
races) and music. My day is not complete until I’ve tackled
the daily cryptic crossword in The Globe and Mail. I am
definitely an introvert but do enjoy socializing and, through
Betti, feel blessed to have met so many warm, loving people.
I enjoy worshipping at Rockway and look forward to
contributing to the congregation in various ways. ω
Liz Klassen and Gerry Steingart
Liz says:
I was born and raised in
Kitchener, the second eldest to
my parents Paul and Ruth
Klassen. My older sister, Karen
Klassen Harder, lives in Bluffton
Ohio, Peter lives in Mitchell, and
Ruth Ann Shantz lives in
London. While at Silver Lake
Mennonite Camp as a
counsellor-in-training I spotted
Gerry Steingart, one of the staff
and began to look forward to
opportunities to be in his
company. Several years later we started to date, and
became engaged two months later. This past year we
celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We have two
sons: Joel, age 25, lives at home, and Chris, age 28, with
his wife, Jillian Burkhardt, also lives in Kitchener. We
appreciate having the energy to enjoy trying to keep up
with their active lives. We enjoy the strong relationships
that we have with our sons and daughter-in-law.
Some of the more significant aspects of my faith
development were my attendance at Rockway High
School, many years of involvement at Silver Lake Camp
both as a camper and later as staff, and my involvement at
W-K United Mennonite Church. As a child I recall going
with my parents, who were deacons, to visit elderly
members of the church. Frequently, I and my siblings
were called upon to sing during these visits. Service in
church and community activities was modelled over the
years by my grandparents and also by my parents, who
were often involved on church council, MCC and
community projects. From a young age I was taught to
live out my faith by serving God, whether by working on a
committee, singing in the choir or volunteering in some
way. I regret that to date I have never had the opportunity
to participate in voluntary service. Perhaps this is
something I will do in years to come.
Perhaps it was my desire to be of service to others that led
me into nursing. Initially I trained as an RPN, later
graduating as an RN and more recently completing my
degree in nursing. My nursing roles have been with
people who are aging, or are marginalized because of
poverty, mental health and, more recently, developmental
disability. Currently, I am the Executive Director of
Aldaview, a division of Tri-County Mennonite Homes,
which provides residential and
day programming to adults with a
developmental disability.
Where will life take Gerry and
me in the next number of years?
That is hard to say. For now we
will continue to work, enjoy our
family and live out our faith
through serving God.
Gerry says:
I grew up with a younger brother
and sister in the Niagara area on a
rural route between St. Catharines and St. Davids.
Growing up in a close-knit rural community, attending a
three room elementary school and living next door to my
aunt and uncle provided me a rather sheltered childhood.
Every Sunday morning we attended St. Catharines United
Mennonite Church, with the afternoon and evening spent
visiting back and forth with the sizeable pool of family and
friends of my parents. Shifting to a large high school in
Virgil was quite a shock. I spent most of those lost teen
years trying to remain invisible. It wasn’t until I spent a
summer at Silver lake Camp that I felt some validation of
my values. After six years on staff, lifelong connections
were made with many people across the province, one of
whom was Liz Klassen, who was also on staff. In 1974, I
moved to Kitchener and in 1978 started employment with
a small local industrial distributor, with five branches
around Ontario. I’m now office manager at the Kitchener
Music has been a large part of my life ever since singing in
the church junior choir. After marrying Liz in 1978 at
W-K United Mennonite, I led the adult (English Choir) for
much of the 30 years that we attended W-K. Self-taught in
fiddle and guitar, I’ve played and sung in various groups
over the years, including one with Sharon Bergen and
Donna Mathies (that was many years ago). I’ve also been
a part of the tenor section of Menno Singers for the past 34
years. Most of my spare time is taken up with
woodworking. Besides projects for myself, I build
cabinetry, tables and other wooden items for family and
friends. My most recent major project, finished at
Christmas, was a new custom kitchen for our home.
Tuesday nights during the winter months you can find me
skipping a team at the K-W Granite club. Liz and I also
curl in a mixed league on Friday nights. ω
Rockway News/February 2009 11
Ernie and Nancy Regehr and family
Ernie was born on the family
farm near Tofield, Alberta.
After high school it was off
to Edmonton for a time,
including a few years of
articling in chart-ered
accounting. When that
began to feel less like a life’s
calling he headed east to
Water-loo and Conrad
Grebel College.
Nancy was born in St.
Catharines, Ontario. After
high school she was off to
Waterloo and Conrad Grebel
College. That’s where the
two stories merge.
We got married in 1968.
Ernie took a job as reporter
From left: Vania, Joel, Brenna, Nathan, Matt, Tanya, Stefan, Nancy, Ernie.
with the K-W Record and
Our family flourished in K-W, aided by Rockway and a
Nancy taught Grade 2. The following year we moved to
terrific group of friends. Our vocational lives also
Peterborough where Ernie wrote editorials for the
flourished here. In the early years of Project Ploughshares
Peterborough Examiner and Nancy taught Grade 1.
Nancy contributed as a volunteer. Gradually we were both
In 1970, we proceeded further east to Ottawa, where we
fully and gainfully employed as it developed into a
began a family. Our first son, Matthew, arrived and Nancy
national organization. We both remain fully engaged,
took up the joys and challenges of motherhood. Ernie
Ernie in a state of partial retirement.
naturally took up fatherhood and worked for the World
In the meantime our sons have grown up and developed
Federalists and MP Max Saltsman (NDP, Cambridge).
expanding families and fulfilling careers. Matthew and
In early 1974, we left Ottawa for two and a half years in
Brenna McKinnon live in Waterloo with their young
southern Africa with Mennonite Central Committee. The
son, and our first grandson, Nathan. Matt is a graphic
time there was a bit nomadic in that we lived for a time in
designer at the University of Waterloo and Brenna is
Botswana, South Africa, and then Zambia. Our second
manager of development planning for the Region of
son, Joel, was born in Johannesburg. Ernie’s work was a
Waterloo. Joel and Vania Sukola live in Toronto. They
writing assignment related to the anti-apartheid efforts in
are expecting their first child in June. Joel is finishing a
South Africa. Nancy pitched in with research and
PhD at York University and works as a community
gathering materials. The time we spent in Africa ended up
network facilitator with Family Service Toronto. Vania is
being terrific and has informed much of what we have
a counsellor for women who have experienced abuse, also
done since then.
with Family Service. Stefan and Tanya Chisholm live in
Waterloo and both work for Desire2Learn, an e-learning
In 1976, we returned to Canada and Waterloo where, with
service provider, with Stefan as a technical writer and
the help of Conrad Grebel College and Frank Epp, Ernie
Tanya as a project manager.
began work on a research assignment on militarism and
underdevelopment. That work gradually morphed into
A chronicle of dates and vocations leaves out lots of the
Project Ploughshares.
important stuff that happens over (countless!) decades of
living with a great family in a vibrant and supportive
In 1978, our third son Stefan was born, and our family was
community. But that’s at least the outline, and we look
complete for a time. We connected with Rockway Mennoforward to carrying on filling in the details through our
nite Church, a community that has been a wonderful
daily living. Ω
communal home for us ever since.
12 February 2009/Rockway News
A Kairos time for poverty reduction
By Brice Balmer
Since the spring and summer of 2007, many provincial
coalitions have been working together under the “25 in 5”
banner to have Ontario establish a poverty reduction
strategy. After putting poverty reduction in their election
platform, the Liberals appointed MPP Deb Matthews as
head of a cabinet committee to look at a multi-pronged
approach to reducing poverty. In December 2008, the
Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy was promised to
reduce child poverty by 25% in 5 years.
Poverty is complex and often thought unsolvable. There
are myths about individuals and families being poor for
generations. Since an important government study in 1988
called Transitions, we have known that the average
individual or family is on social assistance only from one
to three years. Ireland, U.K., Quebec and Newfoundland
and Labrador have demonstrated that poverty can be
reduced by 25% in 5 years — and even more.
The 25 in 5 Coalition has consulted with Ontario
communities as well as advocates, researchers, persons
living on low incomes, and staff people over the past two
years. The 25 in 5 declaration has three platforms that will
work to break the cycle of poverty:
1. Increasing employment and labour standards as well as
increasing the minimum wage and changing
Employment Insurance (EI) so people have longer
periods to re-train and find jobs and so more people
are eligible. Only 27% of workers in Waterloo Region
qualify for EI.
2. Increasing income security, primarily for those on
Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support
Program (ODSP). These programs, along with
Ontario Child Benefit (OCB), are the principal
source of revenue for low income individuals and
3. Building community infrastructure, which means
increasing affordable housing, child care and early
years programs, mass transit, vision and dental care,
and community programs. The declaration
recommends more supports within public education
and the opening of schools as community hubs for
recreation and community activities.
The Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy began to address
a number of these concerns. The critical juncture is now
the provincial budget in mid-March 2009 which will
indicate whether there is a
financial commitment to
poverty reduction.
Currently Interfaith Social
Assistance Reform Coalition
(ISARC) is an active
member of the 25 in 5
coalition. As ISARC
executive secretary, I
represent the faith
communities on various
committees of the coalition,
am in contact with Members of Provincial Parliament, and
am helping the faith communities to speak out.
Faith communities have long stood with the poor and have
attempted to relieve suffering through food banks,
emergency shelters, Out of the Cold, thrift stores, clothing
distribution, etc. While not abandoning charity, faith
communities need to call for justice. It is very difficult for
one to maintain personal dignity while asking for a food
hamper. Staff and volunteers work hard to make the
interaction as open as possible with few questions asked.
Nonetheless, individuals feel the sting of needing to ask
for help.
The federal budget has just come out with some poverty
alleviation: extension of EI benefits for five weeks,
affordable housing for seniors and Aboriginals, an increase
to Working Income Tax Benefit, and infrastructure dollars
for community and recreation centres. It did not contain
funds for child care or increases to the National Child
Benefit. 25 in 5 will be evaluating the provincial budget in
mid-March to see whether there is a serious commitment
to poverty reduction.
ISARC will hold a prayer vigil at Queen’s Park on
Monday through Thursday, starting March 2, 2009.
Groups will be asked to come from 9:00 – 1:00 or noon –
4:00. There will be prayer for MPPs and for people who
are economically marginalized.
It is a Kairos time. People, including many politicians at
all levels, see the needs of the poor and realize that change
is possible and will make a difference. You are invited to
be part of this movement. Websites include, and Ω
Rockway News/February 2009 13
Notes from near and far
John Snyder and
Iva Taves
celebrated their
17th wedding
anniversary on
Sunday, November
16. It coincided
with a potluck lunch
at church, so they
brought a cake and
shared it with all of
us. As they said,
“Although 17 years
isn’t a long time, at
our age every
anniversary is a
special one!”
On January 2, Tony Snider celebrated the 13th
anniversary of his kidney transplant in 1996. His parents,
Vera and John, took him to lunch at the Stone Crock
Restaurant. Tony appreciates life without regular dialysis
and keeps healthy and active. He is assistant equipment
manager for the Kitchener Junior B Dutchmen hockey
team. During golf season he works part time at Grand
Valley Golf Course. Besides these part-time jobs, he does
morning chores each day on the family farm. Tony, may
you and your kidney have many more birthdays!
Esther and Stephanie Etchells are proud of the fact that
Megan was admitted to a coveted spot in University of
Waterloo’s new School of Pharmacy. Megan started in the
four-year program in January.
Dan Lichti is on sabbatical January through June. He will
sing at the Winterpark Bach Festival in Florida in midFebruary, then goes to Israel February 24 to April 10, to
Greece for two weeks, then back to Ontario, just in time to
go to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on April 27 to participate
in the Bach Festival there. He adds: “I’ll be packing my
less portable worldly goods into a container on February
13-14, as I leave the house I have lived in since January,
2003. I’ll see you again after mid-May. Contact me
through [email protected] It looks as though I
won’t be participating in slo pitch this summer as my left
knee continues to act up.”
David Waltner-Toews was an invited participant at a
Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research,
and Medicine on the theme, “A Research Agenda for Managing the Health Risks of Climate Change”. The event
was organized by the Institute of Medicine of the U.S.
National Academy of Sciences and held in Washington,
14 February 2009/Rockway News
D.C., January 15-16 (see
David’s son-in-law (Rebecca’s husband), Steve Clemens,
drummer in the band Lotus (, played
at the Peoples’ Inaugural Ball in Washington on January
17. This ball was for all the grassroots organizations that
helped to get Barack Obama elected. David attended the
ball at the invitation of the band.
Ian Stumpf is involved in helping to establish a tri-cities
chapter of the Council of Canadians, named the Grand
River Chapter. Their first public meeting was held on
February 7. Mark Yantzi was a speaker at the event.
Norma Rudy continues to coordinate the Cambridge
Stroke Recovery Association, a support group for stroke
survivors and caregivers. David assists with the program.
In addition to monthly meetings, they have formed a task
force to try to restore government-funded out-patient rehab
for Cambridge stroke survivors. They are also working
with a “Linking Survivors with Survivors” program
funded by the Local Health Initiatives Network to
strengthen the hospital visitation program.
Stuart Scadron-Wattles writes from Seattle that he is
happily working at Agros International (,
which uses holistic, sustainable development to eliminate
rural poverty. In February, he is co-leading a trip to the
Chiapas region of Mexico in a simultaneous attempt to
boost his rudimentary Spanish and raise money for the
work. He chairs the board of Strawberry Theatre Workshop, a small professional theatre in Seattle. He is also on
the worship committee at Seattle Mennonite Church (SMC),
and is leading a series on the Gospel of Mark (thanks, Urie
Bender). Linda continues as church administrator at SMC,
and is enjoying African drumming and a mystery book club.
Both are spending lots of time with the grandkids. Stuart
adds, “We continue to be grateful for our time and our
friends at Rockway. We welcome email and Facebook
connections, with the warning that the photos section is
rated ‘G’, for excessive pictures of small children.”
Stephanie Etchells enjoyed spending a month in the
Waterloo area visiting family and friends over the Christmas period. She returned to Germany on January 13, soon
to learn the good news that her recent article, “The Native
3D Organization of Bacterial Polysomes” has just been
published in the journal Cell (see
While in Waterloo, Stephanie described to the Rockway
Church Adult Sunday School her involvement with a
Christian Youth Summer Camp in Moldova during the
past few years. She continues her research work at the
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Münich. Ω
Mennonite World Conference —
Our connection to the global Anabaptist communion
I want all the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible,
but I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.
Mohandas Karmchand Ghandi
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.
John 14:6
In 1982, I attended a seminar in Ventnor, New Jersey, with
the Japanese-American theologian Kosuke Koyama.
Koyama suggested that Jesus did not carry the cross like a
businessman carries his briefcase; he said that we are
called to be in the world in the manner and spirit of Jesus,
bent over, with a crucified posture and an open hand. His
words, and his book, No Handles on the Cross, left a
lasting impression.
But what does this mean in our time? As a people, we hold a
high view of the church. We believe that the church not only
• proclaims the Gospel — it is an expression of the
Gospel it proclaims;
• teaches about the need for sacrifice — it is an
expression of the sacrifice it teaches;
• points to the need for reconciliation — it is an
expression of the reconciliation it offers;
• offers wisdom — it is an expression of the wisdom it
Jack Suderman puts it this way: “Scripturally speaking, the
preference of God is that the people of God are not only the
messenger, but also the message of what they do and say.”
It follows then that articulating, expounding and being a
“champion” for such an understanding of the ecclesial plan
of God is the vocation and task of all of us. Sometimes I
wonder if we believe that the presence of the church living
out its true vocation is the best way to do international
development, to develop political mediation strategies, to do
education, to bring peace and reconciliation, to do relief
work, to advocate with the powers, etc.
Mennonite World Conference is the link that connects the
global Anabaptist family of faith for fellowship, worship,
service and witness. This morning, as I write this
[February 5], we received a message from Ovidio Flores
reporting that a small rural congregation in rural Western
Honduras gathered US$265 on Mennonite World
Fellowship Sunday and designated it for the church in
Zimbabwe. I commun-icated this to Danisa Ndlovu,
Bishop of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe and
the MWC President-elect. He responded: “I can at this
point only lift my eyes to heaven and thank God for the
From left: Cynthia Peacock, Chair of MWC’s Deacons
Commission; Pakisa Tshmika, Associate General
Secretary of MWC; Bert C. Lobe, Global Church
Advocate for MWC.
church…let God’s people be blessed…our harsh reality
requires a response that will honour God…we wait and we
hope and thereby offer the aggressor an opportunity for
soul searching. I am truly humbled.”
Koyama’s exegesis of John 14:6 goes like this: The
invitation for individuals and the church is to be in the
world in the manner and spirit of Jesus, in this time. We
know that the Christian church is growing in the global
south, where people are young, poor and suffering.
Perhaps it is time to place Jesus’ words alongside those of
Gandhi…to let ourselves be blown about, to struggle,
indeed to be buffeted about in our commitment to be the
church, to be in the world in the manner and spirit of Jesus.
Rockway Mennonite Church is a strong supporter of the
Mennonite World Conference. Thank you. We are pleased
that folks from your congregation will be present of the 15th
Assembly of the Anabaptist communion in Paraguay this
July. The winds will blow. We will be transformed by the
stories of the communion, strengthened in our resolve to be
in the world in the manner and spirit of Jesus, each day, in
our particular places…in this regard we will not be buffeted.
-Bert C. Lobe, Global Church Advocate for Mennonite
World Conference. Ω
Rockway News/February 2009 15
Conservation corner — Natural gas in Canada
By David Willms
It’s easy to take a warm home for
granted. Other than an annoying
monthly bill or (heaven forbid!) a
furnace failure, the whole process
is worry free. Feeling a little
chill? Just turn up the
thermostat! Too warm? Turn it
down a notch. This is quite a
change from our parent’s
generation, many of whom
heated their homes with wood or coal — and worried
about the source of their heat a good deal more.
If you heat with electricity, you know the energy to heat
your home probably comes from an Ontario power plant,
transmitted along power lines from a nuclear or hydro
facility or possibly from a natural gas plant or windfarm.
But those of us who heat with natural gas directly tend to
be less certain about where the fuel comes from, how it
gets here and how long we can keep burning it.
Like oil, natural gas results from the fossilisation of
organic plant and animal matter buried in sedimentary
rock. It exists as gaseous methane (think cow flatulence).
In Canada, it is mined in much the same way as oil, and
most of it (98%)1 comes from the same place, the Western
Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB — think tar sands, see
below). A huge area, the WCSB extends from
southwestern Manitoba, through Saskatchewan, Alberta,
northeastern British Columbia and the Northwest
Territories. From there, the gas is piped south and east to
foreign and domestic markets. The first natural gas well
began producing in 1904,2 but the industry hit its stride in
the late 1950s.3 Canada currently has proven natural gas
reserves of 58 trillion cubic feet (tcf).1 This sounds like an
enormous number, but consider that we are extracting
6.4 tcf per year. Simple division tells you we have only
nine years left before the gas runs out! We are still drilling
for, and adding new reserves, so our proven reserves have
been stable for the past few years.
Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
16 February 2009/Rockway News
Of the 6.4 tcf we use each year, a little over half is exported
to the U.S.; imports from Canada account for about 15% of
U.S. gas use. Through the 1990s, Canadian natural gas
production almost doubled from 3.5 tcf per year to 6.4 tcf
per year, due to U.S. demand. In that same time drilling and
exploration tripled from 5,000 wells drilled per year to
15,000 wells per year. The point? It now takes a lot more
drilling to produce the same amount of gas. In fact,
conservative estimates assert Canadian natural gas
production has peaked and must now decline:2,3,4
Even though there have been some new conventional
natural gas finds in the WCSB, many analysts predict
that conventional natural gas production in the WCSB
has reached its zenith…. Canada has continued to
produce natural gas faster than it replenishes its
reserves…. Along with falling production, demand for
natural gas is expected to rise, driven by the oil sands
industry and the power sector. Energy Information
Administration, U.S. Government.5
It sounds dire, but there are alternatives to the conventional
reserves found in the WCSB. Coalbed methane is natural
gas extracted from coal seams. It is trickier and more
costly to extract, but it has increased to 4% of Canada’s
supply since 2002. Other sources include liquefied natural
gas (LNG) imports; compressed to a liquid, natural gas can
be shipped in special tankers to regassification terminals,
several of which are planned or under construction in
Canada.6 The world supply of natural gas is immense —
Russia alone has proven reserves 30 times those of
Canada.7 These new sources are riskier, costlier and will
translate directly to higher prices in the long run. The
already significant environmental costs will also increase,
with more pipeline development and more drilling in
remote and environmentally sensitive areas.
The natural gas situation in Canada in 2020 will be quite
different from what it is today. We will not run out but
there will be less, and demand won’t be met with easy-tofind domestic sources. The example of natural gas in
Canada shows that even a seemingly limitless supply of a
non-renewable resource can be depleted in only a few
short decades in the face of an insatiable appetite for cheap
energy — something to remember the next time you turn
up the thermostat!
References and further reading
Wikipedia: History of the petroleum industry in Canada
Wikipedia: List of countries by natural gas proven reserves Ω
Reclaiming gratitude
The following is from a sermon by Sue Steiner given at
Rockway Mennonite Church on Thanksgiving Sunday
2008. Précis prepared by Margaret Loewen Reimer.
This season, the beauty and bounty of our world are almost
too much for me. My CSA (Community Shared
Agriculture) basket overflows with squash, peppers, beets,
carrots, lettuce — and it’s even a good year for ground
cherries to make my favourite pie. On a country walk,
yellow/orange/red trees stop me in my tracks. This season,
I am moved to gratitude and awe.
My spirit joins the church of my childhood in singing:
“Praise to God, immortal praise, for the love that
crowns our days.
Bounteous Source of every joy, let thy praise our
tongues employ.
For the blessings of the field, for the stores the gardens
For the joy which harvests bring, grateful praises now
we sing.” (#91 in our hymnal)
At Souderton Mennonite Church, we sang those words by
Anna Barbauld each fall at our Harvest Home Service.
We linked our spirits with the spirits of thankful people
through the ages. We linked our spirits with the ancient
Hebrews as they celebrated the Feast of Booths, after the
grain had been harvested and the grapes pressed for wine.
Psalm 65, a thanksgiving psalm of the community, is
thought to have its origin in that feast. Most of the thanksgiving songs in our hymnal are based in that Psalm.
Yet at the same time, my spirit is troubled. What on earth
is going on in this world, I wonder? How many
interlocking houses built on sand will crumble? How do
we find bedrock? How do we stave off debilitating fear?
How can I truly claim the world of gratitude?
This season I find myself drawn to the second part of
Barbauld’s poem, the part describing crop failure. She
entitled her whole poem “Praise to God in Prosperity and
Adversity”. She wrote it shortly before the American and
French revolutions, at a time of much instability, many
shifting assumptions. Perhaps crop failure is a metaphor
of much more.
This part of Barbauld’s poem was not in the hymnals of
my childhood:
“Lord, should rising whirlwinds tear from its stem the
rip’ning ear,
Should the fig tree’s blasted shoot drop her green
untimely fruit…
Yet to thee my soul should raise grateful vows and
solemn praise,
And, when ev’ry blessing’s flown, love thee for
thyself alone!” (#92 in our hymnal)
Barbauld invites us to go deep, all the way to bedrock.
She points to what is given to us underneath any blessing,
any adversity. The Hebrew people called it chesed —
God’s steadfast love. Barbauld invites us into gratitude for
who God is, for God’s steadfast love which weaves itself
as a sturdy thread through our troubled spirits. She invites
us to reclaim gratitude — not thoughtlessly, not denying
adversity, but reaching way down to the bedrock
Mary Jo Leddy in her book, Radical Gratitude, claims that
our North American society is premised on ingratitude. “It
is the ingratitude that blinds us,” she writes, “Our failure
to see what we have on the way to getting more…our
disregard for what we step over on the way to somewhere
else… . All that we take for granted falls through our
hands and disappears from sight. And we too fall away
from ourselves and from You, O God.” What if we were
to see the world not as a commodity to be consumed but a
gift to be received?
Classics scholar Margaret Visser in her new book, The Gift
of Thanks, says people have a primal urge to give thanks.
To survive as humans, as societies, we need to reclaim the
“givenness” of the world, and with it, gratitude.
The writers of the Psalms repeatedly return to the primal
urge to give thanks. Underneath all their poetry is the
repeated affirmation: “God is good! The faithfulness of
the Lord endures forever.” As we reclaim our anchor in
God’s steadfast love, the Psalms can be our guide. And so
we return to Psalm 65.
Imagine the probable setting of this Psalm — a group of
farmers at harvest time bringing their first fruits to the
worship centre. Later pilgrims chanted this Psalm as they
moved in procession to the temple in Jerusalem. “Praise is
due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be
performed.” Here we focus on the God of majesty,
eminently worthy of our worship. We reflect on our
collective life in the light of God’s majesty.
In this setting, how can we help but be aware of our
collective sin — that which separates us from God’s
intentions for us and for our world? And so in verse two
comes the good news: “When deeds of iniquity overwhelm
…concluded in next column (overleaf)
Rockway News/February 2009 17
Reports from committees and interest groups (pages 18-20)
An intergenerational Sunday School
On January 11, an all-ages event took place during the
Sunday School hour. Initiated by the Peace and Social
Concerns Committee and with the help of many others,
100 MCC school kits were packed. Prior to packing the
kits, Marlene Epp talked about the history of this MCC
project and showed where the kits are sent. In addition,
she showed a video and, aided by several youngsters,
packed a sample kit. We then moved from the Sanctuary
to the Fellowship Hall where the bags provided by MCC
were filled, each with four notebooks, four pencils, a 12pack of pencil crayons, one eraser and one ruler.
Our 100 kits this year doubled last year’s 50 kits. All
children’s offerings, as well as church offerings not
designated for the church budget during Advent, provided
approximately $900 for this year’s school kits. The Peace
and Social Concerns Committee thanks the congregation
for this generosity. We have decided to target 200 kits for
next year. We see this event as a wonderful way of
involving all ages within the church.
-Ron Harder on behalf of the Peace and Social Concerns
Gratitude…continued from previous page
us, you forgive our transgressions.” In a public act, the
whole people name their guilt and celebrate God’s
forgiveness. Forgiveness of sin is the beginning of
thanksgiving, and the starting point for things to be right
again in the world.
The next stanza (v. 5-8) focuses on God as the hope of the
world. Here we remember God’s awesome deeds which
have brought about our deliverance, not to reinforce a
sense of our own specialness, but as a sign of God’s
intended salvation for all peoples.
So, after expressions of praise for who God is, for
forgiving collective sin, for preserving the world and
delivering its people, comes the third stanza, focusing on
earth’s bounty at harvest time. Its focus is water, always
in scarce supply in the Middle East. With great ingenuity
the people have done all they could to store water, but the
rain itself they could not provide. And so, we have this
exuberant praise for enough water, until by the end the
hills, meadows and valleys themselves are shouting for
joy (v. 9-13).
Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann suggests that
this Psalm gives us language to celebrate our dependence
on the earth. It allows us to speak to the One upon whose
gift of a fertile earth all our science and economics depend.
God’s staggering generosity causes creation to “bring
forth”. It’s a creation theology that gives thanks for the
ordering and blessing of all of life.
Such an outburst of praise enables us to begin again in
wonder, to find the anchor of God’s steadfast love, of
God’s grace and providence towards us and our world. Ω
18 February 2009/Rockway News
The school kit packing starts. The picture on page 1
shows the pile of 100 completed kits.
Men’s bowling — February 4
After only three bowlers showed up in January, for the first
event of 2009, seven bowlers appear at the lanes on
February 4, including first timer, Rod Regier, who is high
man at 168 in the first game, and young Gregory Bergen
who is just a few points lower. Game two was lackluster.
In game three, however, the miracles start to happen, though
Hurc (Brian Hunsberger, occasional reporter, but absent
tonight, and acting theologian when Reimer’s away) has been
known to demur: “God doesn’t really care who wins sporting
events,” he has expostulated. Greg, the Baker’s son, starts by
rolling four strikes in a row. Baker Bergen himself is sparing
and striking (finishing with 212). Before long, WaltnerToews has his own run of four straight strikes. Later, Greg
and Dave each add two more strikes back-to-back to finish at
253 and 264, respectively, first-time over-200s for both men.
Miracles never happen in sport? You decide! Back at the
Bakery we enjoy wonderful Chinese dishes from Lai Lai.
The discussion this night is reserved for mostly serious talk —
yeah, we sometimes do that.
-Brian (The Hawk) Hawthornthwaite and Lew (The
Chemist) Brubacher
Knitters & Knotters
We made it past 100! On January 8, we knotted our 99th,
100th and 101st blankets at our usual meeting on the first
Thursday of the month. On February 4, we knotted numbers
102, 103 and 104 (see picture below). Our attendance varies
from about four to twelve, and our number determines how
many blankets we make on a given Thursday.
Mary Reimer and Maria Meyer take on the organizational
duties of the group. Mary Karen Gosselink assembles the
materials, which she gets from MCC, or she creates beautiful designs from materials she has purchased, usually at a
store that has been sympathetic to our cause, or from
materials given to her. Mary Reimer, Marg Butt and Helen
Epp do the edging and finishing of these blankets at home.
Most of the blankets are donated to MCC. Some are given to
Care Partners Global, the organization with which Phil Dick
and Wendy Reimer did a service stint in Kenya in 2007.
We were happy to see in the MCC news magazine, The
Common Place, how the blankets are being distributed to
children and families in Afghanistan. We thought we
might even recognize our particular blanket! We are
grateful that we are able, in just a small way, to keep some
people a little warmer. This is our aim.
-Helen Epp, on behalf of Knitters & Knotters
Ministry Council recommends use of
hand cleanser for greeters and
communion servers
In light of increased concern in our community and around
the world about the transmission of infections, and with
respect for individuals in our church who may have
increased vulnerability to infection, Ministry Council is
encouraging the use of hand-washing or use of hand
sanitizer by our greeters before and after greeting
congregants and for those breaking and offering bread to
worshippers during communion. Hand sanitizer is
available in the McNair’s mail box for greeters and is
available to communion servers. Here’s a short guide for
effective hand cleansing prepared by the British Columbia
Ministry of Health.
1. Remove jewelry and apply enough product to keep
hands moist for 15 seconds.
2. Rub product in palms and thoroughly cover all
surfaces of the hands and fingers, including the backs
of each thumb.
3. Rub fingertips of each hand in opposite palm.
4. Keep rubbing until hands are dry.
More info at
-Elizabeth McNair, Chair of Ministry Council
The Knitters & Knotters group at work on February 5. Displayed at back is blanket number 102, knotted and
ready to go for edging. In the foreground, in the frame, is number 103.
Rockway News/February 2009 19
Sunday School presents pageant
Sunday evening, December 21 was the annual Christmas
pageant, presented by our Sunday School students. Many
thanks to Amanda Brunk, who directed the students, to
Leanna Wigboldus, her assistant, and to Carol Ann
Weaver, pianist. Additional thanks go to Marg Butt, Jill
Sauer and Bob Horvath for assisting with the costumes,
props and set, to Blaine and Esther Millar for helping with
the refreshments afterwards, and to Marg and Dave Butt,
Sunday School Superintendents, for general oversight.
Here and on page 1 are some pictures from the pageant.
Pageant doves, Micah Cowell and Cameron Dingman,
survey the drama unfolding below.
Jade Martens, Mary,
with baby Jesus.
Sarah Martin sings “O
Little Town of Bethlehem”.
Three of the pageant narrators, from left: Kathyana
Carvajal, Andrew Willms and Tyler Cowell.
Carbon Offset Project continues
On the initiative of Roger Baer, an ad hoc committee of
interested church members was established in 2007 to look
at how, as a congregation, we might address the issue of
climate change. Later that year our committee launched a
Carbon Offset Project in the congregation. Its purpose is
to have participating church members calculate our
household carbon dioxide production in order to educate
ourselves about how our lifestyles impact our environment
generally and climate change in particular. A secondary
objective was to have participating members make a
contribution of $30 per tonne of CO2 generated, with the
funds to be used for projects that might help reduce our
collective carbon dioxide footprint. We believe that the
environment is not only a “green” issue but also an
economic, social and theological issue.
In 2008, 17 households in the church donated $4,948 to the
COP fund. In May 2008, $167.14 was expended to
purchase Bullfrog Power (green energy) for the Mennonite
Relief Sale. More recently, $4,410 was spent on an energy
audit of the Zion Church building. The audit has been
20 February 2009/Rockway News
completed and the results will be presented to the Zion and
Rockway Church Councils shortly.
Thanks to all who signed on to our program and who made
contributions based on their CO2 emissions in 2007. We
encourage your participation in our second annual
campaign. For those who have not participated before but
would like to calculate your carbon footprint and are unsure
how to go about it, Lew Brubacher and Dave Willms would
be pleased to provide technical assistance.
During the first hour on Sunday, March 1, 2009, the
committee will be inviting your feedback regarding the
program and asking for suggestions on what directions to
take this year. If you are unable to attend please pass your
comments on to a committee member. The committee is
hoping that, even though the economy is grabbing the
headlines currently, we not forget the importance of caring
for creation.
-Brian Hunsberger, on behalf of the COP Committee (which
also includes Roger Baer, Kimberly Barber, Lew Brubacher,
Scott Brubaker-Zehr, Bob Dingman and Dave Willms) Ω

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