Mennonite Heritage Village

The Real Heroes

Village News (March 14, 2019)

By Gary Dyck


The Real Heroes

Who is your hero? Is it someone who knows and loves you or someone who wouldn’t even notice you in the room? Our world has many superficial heroes that are big with flair, but small in character. However, like earlier generations of Mennonites, we should not forget to esteem those who have just cleared the path before us. Heroes don’t have to be on a pedestal, untouchable, but someone who when they see us coming down their path begin cheering us on. The Mennonites that moved to Canada did not do it so that they could live a better life, but so that the generations after them could. Let us not forget that.

At the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum (MHV), we don’t commemorate the outstanding lives of individuals, but the faithful (sometimes fallen) living of a community and their journey together. History is made by groups of people. The reformation, abolishment of slavery, democracy or civil rights would not have happened if there was not a group of people committed to its fulfillment. Sure, there are lightning rods and specific moments to note, but much is leading up to those breakthroughs and then communities that build on them afterwards. As Mahatma Gandhi said and practiced, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Larger-than-life heroes don’t build community; faithful-loving-ordinary people build community.

What I find fascinating about the Anabaptist reformation is how we have a diverse movement of people around Europe. A Bible study group in Zurich discovering what a baptism of adult faith is, while in northern Germany and the Netherlands Catholic priests like Menno Simons articulating a new way of doing church and living like Jesus. Then another group gathering in Schleitheim, Switzerland to produce a small book about the basics of this new-found movement (the Schleitheim confession) that people could carry with them across the continent and so on. People started meeting in homes to discuss these new ideas of community and faith. Next, they actually resettle and form little colonies so that they could pursue a new way of being. These communities and these discussions continue to this day and we are hosting some of them at MHV. I wonder, what is our on-going mission as a community in today’s world, what is our next mission?

Museums like MHV can become more intriguing if you have this perspective. The art, the buildings, the ideas you see are the products of ordinary people like you. Make it personal, let it inspire you; history does not belong to the extraordinary people out there, but to you, to those alongside you and with your connection to those who have gone before you. We are in this journey together. See you soon at MHV and again in a hundred years as part of our community memorial!


Calendar of Events

April 2, Annual General Meeting – 7:30 PM