Village News

Knowing When to Quit

  • Gary Dyck, Blog Coordinator
  • Executive Director, MHV
MHV Auditorium
Built in 1964, the nine peaks on the MHV Auditorium roof represents the diversity among Mennonite groups.

The most successful people are those who are good at plan B. ~ James Yorke, Mathematician

Do you know how to move from plan A to plan B graciously? Or do you resist change, like the Mennonites in 1920s Russia who only left the comfort of home when soldiers were on their way to their village? The Mennonites that came to Canada in the 1870s were ready to quit Russia for several reasons, but they also sensed the imminent change would not be good for their future as a people. It was not easy for them to resettle, but the government of Canada was selling land at low prices, and they didn’t want to miss out. Could it be that one of the keys of life is about knowing when to start, when to keep going, and when to quit?

Mennonites are quitters. And that can be a good thing. They left the corruption they saw in the 16th century Catholic church and started their own fellowships. They gave up their land in Prussia for Russia, and again for Canada. I’m thankful they did. Then exactly 100 years ago, Mennonites started quitting Canada too. Many didn’t like the government’s stance on compulsory public education with its British militarism and loyalty overtures. First, they went to Mexico and then other places that were open such as Paraguay and Bolivia. Some even keep moving back and forth, not sure what to start and what to quit.

As S.L. Klassen writes (with a tinge of sarcasm) on her Drunken Mennonite blog: “Our whole history could be written as one of peoples who quit. We quit our allegiance to states that wanted us to kill for them and we quit our allegiance to each other when our fellow Mennos forgot the proper way to baptize. Or dress. Or educate their children. Or, well, pretty much anything. The point is we have long known that there comes a time when one needs to take a stand and turn your back on the people beside you. It’s just what we do.”

This year the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) exhibit and Spring Gala will be on the theme of ‘Leaving Canada’. What compelled Mennonites to leave Canada? What would compel us to leave? It is time to look back and learn from the past 100 years and see how it can guide us into the next 100. This thought-provoking exhibit premieres at our Gala on June 4th.

The Spring Gala will also include a delicious meal and unforgettable music based on this universal theme of stewarding life well. Get you tickets now! They are $85 each (partially receiptable) or $600 for a table sponsorship (great for business owners who want to treat friends to a meaningful event).