Category Archives: Religion

What in the World Was the Judenplan?

My great grandmother was born in a Jewish settlement in Ukraine. I discovered that back in March while working on a family tree project. I found out my maternal great grandmother Margaretha Schellenberg Sawatsky had spent part of her childhood in the Judenplan.

My great grandmother Margaretha Schellenberg Sawatzky (1873-1943) who was born in the Judenplan. She is seen here with her husband Franz Sawatsky.

Judenplan? What was that? I found some information online and wrote an initial blog post but I wanted to know more. Jeremy Wiebe who works for the Mennonite magazine Preservings read my post about my great grandmother and sent some books my way that provided new insights about the Judenplan.

It seems in the 1850s both Jews and Mennonites in Ukraine were experiencing a land crisis. Their populations were growing and in the case of the Mennonites the crown lands offered them as an enticement to leave Prussia and move to Ukraine were no longer adequate. This left many Mennonites landless and if you were landless you just didn’t have much social status or influence.

To solve the Jewish problem of landlessness the Russian government decided to start a new Jewish settlement the Mennonites would refer to as the Judenplan on ten square kilometres of rich fertile land about a hundred miles west of the main Mennonite colony at the time.

However most of the Jewish families that moved there were craftspeople and business people and knew little about farming. To solve this problem the Russian government decided they needed to install mentor or model farmers in each Jewish village and figured the Mennonites who they described as “outstanding models of virtue and industry” would be perfect for the job.

Johann Cornies a Mennonite leader endorsed the plan because he viewed it as a solution for the overcrowding on Mennonite land. Ads were placed in newspapers offering Mennonites who moved to the Judenplan not only good land, but tax breaks and the right to have their own schools.

Jacob Epp and his wife Judith. Epp’s diary provides us with most of the information we have about the Judenplan. The photo is from Wiki Tree.

One of the people who moved there was a school teacher and farmer named Jacob Epp who kept a detailed diary that provides us with most of what we know about life in the Judenplan. Epp probably represented many of the Mennonites when he wrote he had a ‘deep personal aversion’ to living in a mixed religious community.

The diaries of Jacob Epp provide much of what we know about the Judenplan. Unfortunately no similar first hand account by a Jewish settler have been found so far.

However for Jacob who had always only been able to rent land, the thought of owning his own property motivated him to move despite his misgivings. Something similar was no doubt the motivation of my own great great grandfather Johann Schellenberg when he too decided to move to the Judenplan.

Map of the Judenplan village of Kamenka where my great grandmother was born. My great great grandfather Johann Schellenberg’s land plot is clearly shown.

Eventually six villages each with ten to twenty Mennonite families and twice as many Jewish families were established in the Judeplan. Essayist Harvey Dyck estimates there may have been as many as 800 Mennonites living in the Judenplan at one time.

The two groups kept their distance from one another and that wasn’t because of a language barrier since the Jewish Yiddish language and Mennonite Low German were similar enough to make communication possible. Still the Mennonites and Jews maintained their own schools, dress, religious beliefs and other social systems. Fraternization was discouraged and apparently there is no record of a single friendship or romantic liaison between a Jew and a Mennonite in the Judenplan.

The Jewish settlers who for the most part weren’t farmers ended up continuing on with their previous trades of tailoring, blacksmithing, shoemaking, tin smithing, trading wool and grain, lending money, making and selling liquor and inn keeping. They didn’t always have much time left for agriculture and so some ended up renting their land to Mennonites or local Ukrainians. The Mennonites apparently took advantage of the many convenient services the Jewish businesses had to offer.

Since the Mennonite and Jewish fields and pastures were intermingled however they needed to cooperate in farming enterprises. The Jewish farmers bristled at having Mennonites as their tutors and the Mennonites in turn complained about the weeds in the Jewish fields and how the cattle from the Ukrainian renters of Jewish property roamed around and trampled their grain.

Sometimes these resentments led to out and out conflict. In the 1870s the Mennonites sent a delegation to Odessa to lodge complaints about their Jewish neighbours who they said were being unreasonable in their demands concerning shared pasture and field land. Finally in the 1880s the Russian government tired of the ongoing resentments between the Jews and Mennonites separated their plow and pastureland.

Apparently most Mennonites who lived in the Judenplan were there only because they hadn’t been successful at their professions or farming in the Mennonite colonies. It seems the Judenplan was a bit of a ‘dumping ground’ if you will for Mennonites who were poor and lacked personal confidence. Perhaps because of their own inadequacies they blamed their Jewish neighbours for trying to cause trouble and get rid of them.

Eventually a lack of land for Mennonites became a problem in the Judenplan too. As the children of the Mennonite settlers married and had families of their own where were they to live and farm? By that time a movement had started where the Mennonite colonies were purchasing land from wealthy Russian gentry and creating new villages. One such land purchase of some 10,000 acres was called Baratov and Jacob Epp whose diary provides us with most of our knowledge of the Judenplan, left and moved to the village of Gnadenthal in the Baratov as did my maternal great great grandparents.

My great-great-grandparents Johann Schellenberg and Helena Andreas. They eventually left the Judenplan to move to the village of Gnadenthal.

The Russian government’s Judenplan experiment generally seems to have been less than a success although some rather biased reports by both Mennonites and historians would refute that evaluation. The Mennonites were never able to influence the Jewish people to become successful peasant farmers and the experience further convinced the Mennonites that multi-ethnic or multi-religious communities weren’t a good idea.

I am glad my family tree pandemic project led me to learn about the Judenplan something I’d never heard of before. I just wish I had known about it when I visited Ukraine. I would have loved to have seen the site of the Judenplan village where my great grandmother lived.

The information in this post comes from an essay by Harvey Dyck called Landlessness in the Old Colony: The Judenplan Experiment 1850-1880 in the book Mennonites in Russia edited by a former professor of mine John Friesen.

Other posts……..

A Mennonite on the Titanic

What I Liked About Once Removed

What Does a Mennonite Look Like?

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Divine Healing?

In a sermon I gave last Sunday I talked about my visit to the St. Anne de Beaupre Church just outside of Quebec City. One of first things I noticed when I walked into the cathedral were these cases that stretched high up to the ceiling filled with crutches and canes and hearing aids and orthotic shoes.  They were items people had left at the church after experiencing a miraculous healing there.  

St. Anne de Beaupre Church

St. Anne de Beaupre is said to be the site of many divine healings. It began when the church was being constructed in 1658. One of its original builders had severe scoliosis and walked with a crutch.  By the time the church building was complete he was able to walk independently. Countless similar miracles are said to have happened to cathedral visitors.

A statue of the Virgin Mary and her parents Anne and Joachim inside St. Anne de Beaupre Cathedral. The church is named for Mary’s mother Anne.

I do know healing can seem almost miraculous. My father was a physician, and he has told me stories of patients who recovered their health against all odds.  But there can be a danger in the kind of belief in supernatural divine healing like people think has happened to them at Saint Anne’s.

Trusting in divine healing can prevent people from seeking the professional medical help they need. It can also have them put off taking the steps they should to be healthy, like quitting smoking, getting a vaccine, or exercising. It can also leave people disillusioned and bitter when God doesn’t provide the hoped for outcome.

This is not to say however that believing God is walking with you through a health crisis isn’t important. Research has shown that health outcomes can be impacted by a belief in the divine. Apparently people of faith are less stressed and anxious about their illnesses and are generally more hopeful about a positive outcome.

It seems that things work out best when medical science and religious faith walk hand in hand.

Other posts……….

Slow Medicine

Ten Ways We Can Try To Be Like Jesus During the Pandemic

Come Healing

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A Passage For A Prince

The first Scripture passage read at Prince Phillip’s funeral last weekend was a poem from Sirach 43: 11-26. Sirach is one of the books of the apocrypha, a set of Scriptures that have not always been included in the Biblical canon. I hadn’t heard this particular passage before and it was so descriptive I decided to look for some photos of mine to illustrate it.

Rainbow near Vik Iceland

Look at the rainbow and praise its Maker; it shines with a supreme beauty, rounding the sky with its gleaming arc, a bow bent by the hands of the Most High. His command speeds the snow storm and sends the swift lightning to execute his sentence.

In the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica

To that end the storehouses are opened, and the clouds fly out like birds. By his mighty power the clouds are piled up and the hailstones broken small. The crash of his thunder makes the earth writhe, and, when he appears, an earthquake shakes the hills.

Icicles on the Royal Albert Hotel Winnipeg

At his will the south wind blows, the squall from the north and the hurricane. He scatters the snow-flakes like birds alighting; they settle like a swarm of locusts.The eye is dazzled by their beautiful whiteness, and as they fall the mind is entranced. He spreads frost on the earth like salt, and icicles form like pointed stakes.

Dew on a flower during an early morning walk in Leo Mol Gardens in Assiniboine Park

A cold blast from the north, and ice grows hard on the water, settling on every pool, as though the water were putting on a breastplate. He consumes the hills, scorches the wilderness, and withers the grass like fire. Cloudy weather quickly puts all to rights, and dew brings welcome relief after heat.

Orca seen on our kayaking trip in British Columbia

By the power of his thought he tamed the deep and planted it with islands. Those who sail the sea tell stories of its dangers, which astonish all who hear them; in it are strange and wonderful creatures, all kinds of living things and huge sea-monsters. By his own action he achieves his end, and by his word all things are held together.

Prince Philip was a passionate environmentalist who helped found the World Wildlife Fund and served for many years as its president. People eulogizing him in the last weeks frequently pointed to his dedication to conservation and environmental causes. Perhaps that explains why he chose this particular passage to be read at his funeral.

Other posts……..

Seeing the Queen

Getting to Know Richard II

My Husband Sits on a Throne

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Bible Verses in the House of Commons

Bible verses were being tossed back and forth in Canada’s Parliament on Friday as the House of Commons debated a bill that would make conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people a criminal offence.

The Liberal MP for Kingston, Ontario, Robert Oliphant spoke in defence of the bill. Mr Oliphant is a gay United Church minister and he quoted Micah 6:8 in his remarks. It is a passage that refers to the qualities of justice, mercy and humility.

Conservative MP Tamara Jansen who represents Langley British Columbia and opposes the bill in its current form, used a passage from Matthew 23:27 in her response to Mr Olipant. The Matthew passage she quoted talks about people who are hypocrites and unclean.

One of the reasons I was so interested in the way the Bible was being used as justification to argue both sides in a contentious debate was because I just started an online course with Dr Heather Barkman, a religion professor from the University of Manitoba and in our first class, we learned about the origins of the gospels of the New Testament.

One of the oldest copies of the New Testament we have

There are no original texts for the materials in the current four gospels. What we have are copies of texts, or even copies of copies, all subject to the errors that can occur when copying and re-copying take place. The original texts that were the sources for our current versions of the four gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus, but were accounts that had been passed on orally for at least forty years or more, in the case of the gospel of John close to 90 years, and subject to all the changes that can happen during such a lengthy period of oral transmission. We have no idea who wrote the original texts. They were given the names of Jesus’ followers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to lend them an air of authenticity, but those men most certainly didn’t write them.

Could some of the copies that have been found up till now be forgeries? Dr Barkman said it is entirely possible. Might other ancient copies still be found that contain different information and viewpoints. That is entirely possible too.

During the first several centuries after Jesus’ death there were a multitude of different gospels circulating about his life, each written by different people in different times for different reasons. Then in the year 393 some powerful bishops reached a final decision about which four gospels would become the stable Biblical canon, the one we use today.

Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons had some interesting reasons for choosing only four gospels for the canon

Why chose only four gospels from the many available? Well, one of the bishops instrumental in that decision said it was because the wind came from four different directions. And why decide on a canon? The reason for that probably involved unifying various Christian groups and spreading Christianity for political reasons.

As I read about the debate in Parliament over the bill to criminalize conversion therapy I marvelled how the Bible remains such a powerful book. There it is, being used to defend and question new laws in the political house of a large and influential nation.

Yet, as I am learning in my course the Bible’s origins and authenticity are clearly subjects open to discussion and as one person in the course put it, the choice to accept certain gospels and their unique points of view was most likely made by “a bunch of powerful men with a political agenda.” Given those realities it is truly interesting to ponder how the Bible has maintained itself as such a source of authority by people of every political stripe for thousands of years.

Other posts…………

First Officially Affirming Church in Steinbach

The Post Election Priorities of American Christians

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

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Thinking About Mary On Good Friday

 Perhaps because I am a mother myself, on Good Friday I am often preoccupied with thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mother. 

How must she have felt as they nailed her son’s hands and feet to the cross and she watched him slowly die? How would a mother feel watching that happen to her child?

Former Toronto Star columnist Michelle Landsberg writes in her book Women and Children First, “It is at the very moment we give birth, that we first begin to truly understand and fear death. ” Mary must certainly have experienced such fear for her child right from the beginning of her motherhood journey.

Rest on the Flight to Egypt- Francisco de Zubaran – 1659

She was just a young girl when she delivered her first baby after enduring the comments of those who thought it was scandalous she got pregnant before she was married. She takes her son to the temple when he is eight days old.  There a man named Simeon tells her the tribulations of her child will be “ like a sword that will pierce your soul.”  Later when Jesus is a toddler, Mary becomes a refugee because powerful people want to kill her son. To save him she flees to a place where the culture, language, and religion are completely foreign to her.

Jesus in the Temple by Heinrich Hofmann- 1881

Jesus is twelve when he is separated from his parents in the large city of Jerusalem.  Any mother who has ever lost a child in a crowd can empathize with the heart-stopping fear Mary surely experienced at that point.

Jesus Summons Matthew to Leave the Tax Office -Jan van Hemessen – 1536

Once Jesus began his ministry Mary must have lived in constant anxiety. Her thirty-year-old son does not marry or have steady employment. He wanders around with a member of a violent guerilla warfare organization. His other followers are men who have abandoned their careers and families. He travels with a tax collector and with Mary Magdalene, whose virtue is questionable. He is often seen with Joanna, a woman who has left her politically important husband, and a rich young lady named Susanna who is rumored to be squandering her fortune on Jesus.

Mary watches her son spend time with lepers, prostitutes, adulterers, dishonest government officials and those who are thought to be demon-possessed. People gossip about Jesus. Mary overhears her neighbors whisper “he has gone out of his mind.” She knows the church leaders hate her son.

Jesus Rejected in Nazareth by Jeff Watkins

Once when she goes to see him Jesus says, “Who is my mother?” as she approaches. Mary must have been hurt. Another time he is visiting at home and makes some radical and inflammatory statements in the synagogue in Nazareth . The congregation gets so mad they drive him out of the city. He narrowly escapes being pushed off a cliff. How Mary must have worried!

Igor Stoyanov’s Icon of the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee

Yet Mary supports her son whole-heartedly. At the Cana wedding, Jesus is hesitant to perform a miracle. “Mom why should we worry about this,” he says in John 2:4. “Do whatever my son tells you”, Mary confidently assures the servants ignoring her son’s misgivings. Jesus lives up to his mother’s absolute faith in him. He turns the water into wine. Many people’s hearts are changed as a result.

Mary and John at the Cross by Ralph Pallen Coleman

And Mary demonstrates her unconditional love for her son at the end of Jesus’ life. People are making a circus of his death. They are spitting on him, jeering and gambling with his belongings. He is hanging between two common criminals. Most of his followers have fled, denying they know him, but not his mom. She is standing right at his cross. Jesus is so moved by his mother’s loyalty that one of the last things he does before he dies is ask his best friend to look after her.

The Bible makes it clear Mary never gave up on her son. Time and time again she extended her support and care. No doubt her faith in God sustained her through the most difficult trials of motherhood.

So give a thought to Mary on this Good Friday, because sadly there are still mothers everywhere in our world who are grieving for their children’s hurt and pain. Remember too that there are also mothers everywhere who are continuing to live in hope, who like Mary, never stop loving their children unconditionally.

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First Officially Affirming Church in Steinbach

The Steinbach United Church

“I am honored to be here today to celebrate this special moment in your church’s history.” Steinbach mayor Earl Funk spoke those words on March 14 during a Sunday morning service at the Steinbach United Church. The congregation was marking an historic occasion as they became the first church in Steinbach to formally declare themselves an affirming congregation, one that is open to inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ people in every aspect of their church’s work and ministry. The church was making a public, intentional and explicit declaration of their decision.

I know at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg where I am currently a member, our journey to formally become an affirming congregation was a process that went on for many years after being initiated by church members who were the parents of 2SLGBTQ+ children.  

As I listened to the Steinbach United Church affirmation worship service, I realized the journey had also been a long and thoughtful one for them.  They processed the idea of becoming an affirming church with Sunday morning messages from special speakers, Bible studies, workshops, conversation circles, movie and discussion nights and tapping into the expertise of the Winnipeg Rainbow Resource Center and the Steinbach Neighbours for Community organizations. This culminated in a drive-by vote during the pandemic in the fall of 2020 when congregation members came to the church in their vehicles and marked ballots extended into their cars with a hockey stick in order to maintain social distance. The church members voted overwhelmingly to become an affirming congregation. 

During the service on March 14th pastor Deborah Vitt spoke on the passage from 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 which talks about how the church, just like our bodies, is made up of many different parts and each deserves recognition for the contribution they make to the whole. This idea was incorporated into the statement of affirmation recited by church members declaring every aspect of their church life open to people of all ages, colors, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, marital status, and social or economic circumstances. 

Affirming Church symbol on the Steinbach United Church website

The music for the service was aptly chosen. One hymn suggested “draw your circle wider so no one stands alone” and another provided this encouragement. “Empowered by faith, reach out far and wide, as you journey through life filled with hope”.

In his remarks during the service Mayor Earl Funk said his parents had taught him the Biblical mandate to love your neighbour and he felt that was the mission of the church as well, to love everyone, in every circumstance, and in every time of their life. He concluded, “I am so excited to be here today and want to give words of encouragement to the United Church to continue the good work that they do.”   

The Steinbach United Church was instrumental in starting the Steinbach Food Bank which sits on land just adjacent to the church.

A visual presentation during the worship service outlined some of the good work Mayor Funk was referring to.  I learned it was members of the United Church who provided the impetus to start local charities like The Steinbach Helping Hands food bank and the Agape House shelter for women and children escaping abusive home situations. The church has contributed to the work of Envision, Eden East, Anna’s House, Steinbach Neighbours for Community and many other charitable organizations. 

As I watched the March 14 service, I could only hope that just as the Steinbach United Church has been a role model in the past, supporting so many life- giving ministries in their community, they will be seen as a role model now once again, leading the way for other Steinbach churches to make their own public declarations of acceptance for all of God’s children. 

You can watch the service on the Steinbach United Church website.

Other posts………

Letter From the Mother of a Gay Son

Pride in Steinbach Isn’t Something New

Growing Up Inclusive

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Even the gods speak of God

A book I am currently reading has introduced me to the poetry of David Whyte.

Self Portrait is one of my favourite poems so far.

Maori Jesus in the window of the Faith Anglican Church
Rotorua New Zealand

Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
Or many gods.
I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned;
If you know despair
Or can see it in others.
I want to know
If you are prepared to live in the world
With its harsh need to change you;
If you can look back with firm eyes
Saying “this is where I stand.”
I want to know if you know how to melt
Into that fierce heat of living
Falling toward the centre of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing
To live day by day
With the consequence of love
And the bitter unwanted passion
Of your sure defeat.
I have been told
In that fierce embrace
Even the gods
Speak of God.

~ David Whyte ~

With my older son

Other posts…………

Two Poets on Prayer

Sweets For A Hundred Flowery Springs

A New Poet

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Filed under Poetry, Religion

Crying Is Required

As the pandemic wears on I will be the first to admit that I cry much more easily and more often than I did before. I know that my situation is not unique and that I am better off than many. But when I think about how long it has been since I have seen my three grandchildren and my son and daughter-in-law in Saskatoon I get teary. I realized the other day that I have not hugged my son and daughter-in-law here in Winnipeg for over a year. Their little four-month-old daughter only sees my face on a screen or with a mask on.

Photo of me doing art with children on the Winnipeg Art Gallery site

I have not gone back to the Winnipeg Art Gallery since I was laid off from my job there because I think as soon as I walked through the doors I’d start to cry remembering how much I loved being there and loved talking about art with our visitors.

When I let myself think too much about the impact the pandemic has had on my father’s dementia the tears can flow before I know it.

The other day I watched one of those Flash Mob videos where a crowd of musicians gathers slowly to perform an instrumental and vocal rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and I was weeping by the end thinking about how long it has been since I have sung a hymn with others or have listened to a choir perform in person.

I photographed the Tear Drop Temple in Jerusalem

When I visited Jerusalem I went to the Dominus Flevit Temple. It is also known as the Tear Drop Temple because its roof is shaped like a teardrop. The temple was designed and placed on the Mount of Olives in memory of Jesus’ tears.

Inside the Dominus Flavit Temple

The Bible records two times when Jesus cried. Once was at the death of his good friend Lazarus and another was when he was overcome with sorrow because he knew what was going to happen to the people of Jerusalem. The Tear Drop Temple is said to be built on the spot where Jesus wept.

There are times when we all need a good cry. There is nothing wrong with tears. They are not a sign of weakness. Tears can relieve stress and provide a good emotional release. Tears are a healthy sign of our humanity and vulnerability. During these pandemic times, a good cry should probably be a regular requirement.

American writer Rita Schiano says “Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow.”

Jesus knew that. We need to remember it too.

Other posts………

Tears in A Bottle

Dad’s Sacred Trees

A Peaceful Mind and Heart

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Religion

Lessons From Trees

Lynda Toews is the talented artist in residence at my church. During the months of January and February, her beautiful paintings will be adding an element of visual wonder to our series of online worship services on the theme of trees.

Yellow Cedar by Lynda Toews

Did you know that there is a yellow cedar tree in British Columbia that is 1835 years old? It is Canada’s oldest tree. Indeed trees are the oldest living things on earth. “As the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people” Isaiah 65:22.

Trees give us a good idea of where our short life spans fit into the vast scale of time. Trees grow slowly and remind us of what we can accomplish when we have patience and perseverance. Trees also are a prime example of what great things God makes from a very small seed or pinecone.

Trees Clapping by Lynda Toews

The title of this painting Trees Clapping makes reference to the Scripture passage in Isaiah 55:12. “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills, shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

Lynda went out to photograph trees in her neighbourhood to use as models for this piece. She wanted the trees to have riotous colour and energy and show movement. We may not think of trees as being emotional like humans but poets have often given them human qualities. Think of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem where the trees lift their leafy arms to pray.

Trees can remind us how important it is to express and share our emotions as we worship and work together.

Moonlight Sonata by Lynda Toews

Lynda illustrates the relationship between trees in Moonlight Sonata. Look at how the two trees are bent towards each other and how their roots intertwine.

Scientists tell us trees share food with one another. By working together trees create an ecosystem that moderates the temperature and stores water. If you look at the forest canopy you can see that trees respect one another’s space leaving openings between their crowns.

Trees even communicate through electronic impulses that emanate from their root tips. Studies show that one tree can be connected to as many as 50 others in this way. Their communication helps them grow in healthy and safe ways.

The communication and community found in trees can be an example to humans as we strive to communicate and live together in community.

The Bible tells us we are to be like trees planted by streams of water bearing fruit. Psalm 1:3

Lynda Toews
  • The tree paintings in this post are all by Lynda Toews. You can see more of her work here and here.
  • The ideas in this blog post come from essays and other documents Lynda prepared in conjunction with her visual pieces.
  • I have used her artwork and her ideas with her permission.

Other posts……….

The Tree of Life- Poems by Sarah Klassen

Two Trees and a Marriage

Dad’s Sacred Trees

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Picking a Church Out of the Cereal Bowl

Tao Fong Shan our church in Hong Kong

It was time! When we moved to Winnipeg from Hong Kong I wanted to get involved with a church congregation in the city. 

My husband Dave thought we should shop around for a church. “Give it a year,” he said “and then we will decide.”

All Saints Church was one of many Winnipeg churches we attended during our two years of church hopping

There are more than a dozen churches that belong to our particular Mennonite church conference in Winnipeg and I think we went to them all, some several times. But we also attended Lutheran churches, United churches, Anglican churches and non-denominational congregations. This was  a great learning experience and really broadened our faith horizons.  We were so enjoying our time as church tourists that soon ……. two years, not one had passed. 

When our two year anniversary of being back in Canada was reached I told Dave we needed to settle down and get serious.  “We have to decide on a church,” I said. 

“OK,” Dave agreed. “Let’s each write the names of three churches on slips of paper, put them in a cereal bowl and then you start drawing. The last slip of paper that’s left is the church we’ll attend.”

It ended up that last slip contained the name of a church we’d both written down. Neither of us got our top pick, but we were both content with the choice.

I’m not saying the best way to choose a church is from a cereal bowl, but since our merry-go-round of visits and many discussions about the matter had produced no results, for us at least it was a practical solution.

Bethel Mennonite Church was the one we picked out of the cereal bowl

In the years since then the faith community we chose has truly become our home.  We have many friends there and have found enriching and meaningful ways to be involved in church life. 

Other posts ……..

13 Reasons Why I Go To Church

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