Winery in Virginiaby Various authors
Editor’s note: This is the third and last issue in which we will publish letters responding to “Mennonite Couple Opens Winery in Virginia” (January). The following letters are published in the order they were received. Due to space limitation, we can publish only excerpts from the longer letters.
I walked into the local shelter for the homeless one day and was asked by Joan, one of the staff members, if I would accompany her to her office to counsel a man who had expressed a need to talk to someone. Frank had been drinking and been in before to talk about his problems. We entered the office, and Frank gave me a glare and asked Joan, “Who’s he?”
Joan said, “This is Ted,” and assured miracle was to make a lot more wine so the wedding celebration could continue after the guests had already drunk up all the wine.
Just as there is a sin of drunkenness, there is a sin of gluttony, greed and lust. Some are aware and some in denial about which of these holds too much power over us. Thank God for all God’s good gifts, but worship and serve only the Giver and not the gift.—Duane Beachey, Whitesburg, Ky.
I was disappointed with the article about winemaking in the January issue and also with the editorial in the February issue. The logic used was that if the majority is doing something, it is OK, rather than what the Scripture says about an issue. I know Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for the stomach’s sake, but that was before Pepto Bismol and other remedies. Proverbs 20:1; 23:31-32; Leviticus 10:8 and Ephesians 5:18 clearly speak against the use of strong drink. We need to hear more Scripture from our pulpits and church literature.—Dean Swartzendruber, Kalona, Iowa
For more than five decades, I have been reading Gospel Herald (now The Mennonite) consistently and with pleasure and appreciation. However, I was deeply disappointed to have our official denominational paper approve and seemingly promote the use of an alcoholic beverage. I am saddened when I think of the many whose lives were devastated by the use of alcoholic beverages. Yes, some of those have even been a part of our Anabaptist heritage.—Ben F. Lapp, Watsontown, Pa.
I, with others, was disappointed that you printed the article about the Virginia couple making and selling wine. To my knowledge the Mennonite church has never supported or endorsed the use of wine as a beverage. I think that anyone producing, selling or promoting it should be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to hear how the abuse of alcohol destroys marriages, families and businesses. They should also take some responsibility for the cost to the larger society. The problems created by its use far outweigh the medical benefits.—Chester Fath, Dalton, Ohio
First Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV) says: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Might this Scripture be speaking to the use of alcohol?—Zella Kauffman, Souderton, Pa.
The article “Mennonite Couple Opens Winery in Virginia” (January) quotes Curt Hartman as saying that perhaps people are adopting “a more European or biblical view” regarding acceptance of alcohol. Perhaps it would be good to remember that church attendance in Europe is in serious decline, and few of our traditional American Mennonite churches are growing. I’m not suggesting that we go back to the strict rules that regulated dress, technology and alcohol in the Mennonite church years ago. However, I fear that in this enlightened, progressive age, people who are hungry for spiritual truth won’t be attracted to our churches if we give the impression that church is just a grand social club. I’m disappointed if this is the impression given to someone just glancing through the article or to a newcomer to the Mennonite church.—Sharon Shenk, Waynesboro, Va.
I don’t know which is more disappointing, that the Hartmans are devoting their considerable talents and energy to the production of wine or that no one in their home congregation seems to have a problem with it, as reported in the January issue of The Mennonite. I suggest the Hartmans spend some time visiting a rescue mission in a nearby city and meet some of the people whose lives have been ruined by the consumption of wine.”—John E. Eby, Lancaster, Pa.
Thanks for publishing the article “Mennonite Couple Opens Winery in Virginia” (January). Hopefully the article will open good dialogue between the traditional view and the progressive view of “responsible” drinking within the church. The traditional view often ignores that Jesus’ first recorded miracle was “making” wine and that Holy Communion includes wine. Wine is perfect with a formal meal with friends, a symbol of celebration of life.
I do respect people’s view to not drink alcohol in support of people who have drinking problems. But I pray these brothers and sisters will be able to try to persuade and not condemn others who differ from them.—Melvin Esh,
Associated Issue: Lawrence Hart's vision of peace - January, 2011
Associated Article: Mennonite couple opens winery in Virginia
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