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Introduction by Leonard Doell
The year of 1985 should be a year of celebration for Old Colony Mennonites and their descendants in the SaskatchewanValley. It will be 90 years that our people have lived, worked and raised their families here.
On January 23, 1895, the federal government set aside four townships of land for Mennonite settlement in the Hague-Osler area. This Mennonite Reserve was an addition to the over-crowded West Reserve in southern Manitoba.
In Psalm 36, we read how the children of Israel celebrated events in their lives, The Psalms talk of times where they celebrated the events in their history, in which they had been blessed of God, also of times in which they had been unfaithful but in which God had been merciful to them. They celebrated the victory of God as experienced in their history. These celebrations helped them to accomplish various things. It served as a reminder of the way in which God had led them. It served as a celebration of praise and thanksgiving to God. It served as a time of repentance, a time to acknowledge publicly and openly their failure before God. It was also a festival of renewal; a festival in which they made a renewed commitment to follow the Lord of the Covenant.
We also want to praise God for the faithfulness of our forefathers. We are thankful for the way in which they stood for their faith before governors, churches, as well as before enemies of the Gospel. We are thankful for the way they tried to cast their faith into appropriate molds of adult baptism, feet washing, non-swearing of oaths and a ministry of reconciliation.
We bless them for having been willing to leave one country after another for conscience sake. We honor those who came to Manitoba (and later Saskatchewan), for not taking the easy road of staying with others in the USA, but insisted on coming to a land where they would be granted freedom to worship, to educate according to their convictions, and where tbey would be exempted from military service.
We honor those who, when they believed the province was denying their promise to the Mennonite people, again packed up their belonging and moved to Paraguay, Mexico, and other countries. Who knows but that we now have greater freedom in this land because they were willing with their lives and livelihood, to bear witness to the wrong they had suffered.
With these photographs and short write-ups, we also want to share in a small way, stories of some of the people who settled on this Mennonite Reserve. These were very human people whom many, us descend from. They carried a faith and a vision that still lives today.
Together with these articles we too want to stop and remind ourselves of the way the Lord has led us in our short history. We, too, want to bring praise and thanksgiving to God. We also need to express repentance. Throughout our history we have known what is right better than we have been able to live it, many times we have confessed one thing but done the other. Above all we want to commit ourselves to follow the Lord with renewed dedication and zeal for such is the commitment of thanksgiving.
During the course of the year 1985 approximately 40 such articies will appear in the Valley News. My hope is that they will be educational and enriching, and hopefully no one will be hurt or offended by their presence.
- Submitted by Leonard Doell.
(Parts of the above are adapted from Mennonite Reporter p. 4-5, Nov. 25,1974, a talk by Davld Schroeder)
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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7H8
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