Mennonite Heritage Village

The Past as a Framework for Sound Judgement

by Gary Dyck

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill

Life is complex. The issues our leaders face in helping our communities to thrive are not easy. Rosabeth Kanter, a noted authority on leadership, stressed that the power to construct (or reconstruct) the past creates the power to shape the future. In conceiving of a different future, movers and shakers need to be expert historians as well. When innovators begin to define a project, they are not only seeing what is possible, they are probably learning a lot about the past. One of the prime uses of the past is in the construction of a story that makes the future seem to grow naturally and in ways compatible with the community or organization’s culture.

The people who lead us should have a good grounding in history while also being adaptive. Their understanding of history should not be simplistic but should reflect all sides of an event or issue. Those who compare today’s mandates to the Gestapo or the oppression that Anabaptists faced in the 1500’s are missing the context of their current time and the historic time. I suspect that if we studied and researched the contexts of these events we would see vast differences in the intentions of those in authority, the actual issues at stake, and in the response of those being targeted from then to now.

One of the roles of museums like the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) are to provide a setting for people to get to know their history well. Our current exhibit ‘Mennonites at War’ is a great example of that. The exhibit shows the different sides Mennonites have had on this issue over the centuries. On September 25th, our first fundraiser event, in two years will include personal tours of this exhibit and our housebarn restoration project. An exhibit tour with its creator and curator is the best way to go in-depth. One of the objects on display is a tongue screw replica that was used on Anabaptists to keep them from sharing their new-found faith to those gathered at their stake burning. How this compares to our current mask mandate I’m not sure. Visit our website ( today to book your visit!

Upcoming Events

  • MHV grounds, gift shop and galleries are open seven days a week until September 29th. At this time you must be fully vaccinated for admission and indoor events.
  • Livery Barn Restaurant and Rhubarb Jam are now closed for the season.
  • VIP Tours and Fundraiser on September 25th. Support the museum and get a personal presentation and preview of the ‘Mennonites at War’ exhibit. When you book your tickets at for this event you will get to pick the time that you would like to visit the museum and preview the new exhibit. Senior Curator, Andrea Klassen will guide you through the exhibit. You will then get a second tour of the Chortitz Housebarn and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and wine on the lawn. This is a fundraiser for phase two of the Chortitz Housebarn including the central hearth.
  • Mennonites at War Speaker Series, October 19th. Join us for our final installment of the ‘Mennonites at War’ online series. The topic is ‘the practice of peace’ with Bruxy Cavey. Cavey is the senior pastor of a multi-site Anabaptist congregation in Ontario called ‘The Meeting House’ and best-selling author. Register for free on our website today!