Mennonite Heritage Village

The Value of Flashbacks

Village News (March 7, 2019)

By Gary Dyck


The Value of Flashbacks

One of my favourite parts of reading a newspaper is the ‘flashback’ segment. ‘Flashbacks’ allow us to see how far we have come or changed. If we’ve made good progress we can be grateful and breathe a prayer of thanks. Healthy progress is not something to take for granted. Mennonites around the world can attest to how quickly a society can change. We’ve witnessed violent revolutions in Russia and genocides in Africa. It is good to ponder what is different, what is changing and what needs to be held fast to.

Recently I read a flashback about our Village Centre that was opened in 1990. It was fascinating to hear about their hopes and dreams for it, the long-time support of retired Manitoba Premier Ed Schreyer and other officials, and how MHV would now be more than just a local museum. The Village Centre building has certainly enabled us to expand our foci and host a wide variety of groups for education and dialogue.

At the time Schreyer declared to the guests attending the official opening that, “Mennonites have a demonstrated ability to cope with rapid political change in the various countries where they have settled. Countries now undergoing dramatic change may need help from Western nations for them to become free and prosperous nations.” We preserve our heritage so that we can keep learning from it and have something to share with the world around us. May we not lose what we have experienced and learned these recent centuries. Oppression and violent domination keeps finding its way into every nation, sometimes subtly and slowly, and we need to be equipped to respond to it in an active peace-making manner. This is one of the purposes for the existence of the MHV.

I am so thankful for our Village Centre, for how it helps our wonderful staff and volunteers to do their job well, how it facilities a variety of community functions with three different meeting rooms, for the meaningful content in the main gallery, for the Gerhard Ens gallery that showcases new topics annually, for the quilting room which allows this art to continue and be enjoyed by others, for the large curatorial wing (that you never see) and all that it stores and helps us to preserve. Connected to all that is the original museum centre which is now our auditorium; a beautiful room to host the community.

This reminds me of a Jean Vanier quotation (founder of L’Arche, an international network for those with developmental challenges): “One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” Let’s keep growing in our ability to do that. Acknowledged in that newspaper flashback was also the money that was raised and the work that was done to build the Village Centre. Yes, we have certainly come a long way together, but we also have a lot more to do.

Calendar of Events

April 2, MHV Annual General Meeting, 7:30pm