Wednesday, May 13, 2015
It must be Spring in Detroit if Lindsay is leading boot camp workouts outside.
We've been in Saskatoon, on the Canadian prairie, a city of just over 200,000 in the province of Saskatchewan. Elaine Enns, a mentor and great friend, finally graduated from her Doctorate of Ministry program! She's been tirelessly working on this deeply important project for the past 3 years. The core of her research and writing has been devoted to the historic trauma experienced by Mennonite communities who migrated from Germany to Ukraine/Russia and then to Canada after the first world war. When they arrived in Canada, they "settled" land long inhabited by indigenous peoples (First Nations or Aboriginal).
We white settlers have been trained to learn about these events in history books and proclaim, "That's the past. It's time to move on!" Elaine, though, has been asking hard questions about her own Mennonite legacy. Very little work has been done on this painful chapter of history, although our Canadian neighbors to the north are far ahead of us Americans, establishing a Truth & Reconciliation Commission to bear witness to the suffering inflicted on Native peoples through forced removal from their land, residential schools and the church & government's failure to honor treaties. Much of this process is focused on acknowledgment of injustices and eventual healing.
We attended the Mennonite church that Elaine and her siblings grew up in. Elaine preached a powerful sermon on the deep lessons she's learned along the way these past few years. We also got a chance to sit down with the pastors of the congregation and enjoy fresh bread and coffee (it was like being back in beloved Lorrach, Germany in '06). We've been on a couple of beautiful runs along the river close to downtown and met the venerable Vern Ratzlaff (with white hair and flowing beard), a long-time pastor who took up a position at a rural church 9 years ago (less than a year after he "retired" from a church in the city). The annual BCM webinar featured Elaine's work of historic trauma and "restorative solidarity" (embracing historical response-ability concerning the colonial legacy).