Family, Food and Spirituality

   Mom, Dad and three kids. Isn’t that what the family is, and what it has always been? Actually, my Mom and Dad had thirteen kids, but we still fit the pattern of an isolated family unit with definite boundaries. Val Hiebert, a professor at Providence University College, has studied the family from a historical, biblical, and sociological point of view. She will share her insights in a talk at the Mennonite Heritage Village this coming Saturday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m., taking a good look at this idea of the family throughout history from the point of view of the church.

   She says: “We often hear the appeal among Evangelical churches and organizations to return to traditional family values. A chronological journey through the social and theological history of the Church suggests that the Church, influenced by a combination of cultural norms and biblical interpretation, has held to a wide variety of views on what constitutes a biblical marriage and family throughout different historical eras. Social location in history deeply influences how the Biblical text has been and is being read and applied. What might this mean for us today?”

   The evening will also include two short talks on other subjects related to the family and spirituality. Ernie Braun, our local historian and stand-up comic, will talk about the Waisenamt. This was a Mennonite agency which looked after the financial affairs of orphans and single parents. Probably not a natural occasion for comedy, but wait for it.

   In the old days, when one parent died--usually the mother--the rule was that her children were entitled to receive half of the family estate upon reaching majority. That meant they would get half the estate at the time of the death of the mother, so usually this amount had to be kept in trust for the children and invested for their benefit in the meantime. So the Waisenamt had to take care of a lot of money. How did this play out? How did it affect spirituality? Come to Ernie’s talk and find out.

   The other short talk will be given by Daphne Thiessen, a homemaker living in a semi-rural community with husband Randall and two young sons. She is passionate about gardening and cooking and has taken the time to reflect on how this ties in with spirituality. Most of us take these things for granted, but a mindful meditation on food leads us to marvel at its daily blessing. Come for the feast.

   The idea of having annual lectures on historical topics was started last year when the EastMenn Historical Committee sponsored talks about the Métis and the indigenous people of southeastern Manitoba. Those talks have been published in last year’s issue of Preservings. This year the Mennonite Heritage Village has joined EastMenn in sponsoring the talks in their facility. Hope you can make it!

Calendar of Events

May 6: 7:30 PM - Local History Lectures – Family, Food and Spirituality

May 12: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Manitoba Day

May 14: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM – Mother’s Day Buffet

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors Tractor Show

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.