When driving to work this morning I heard a story on the radio about welcome signs that people in Elmira and Kitchener area are putting out in front of their houses.  The signs say: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour” written in French, English and Arabic. Obviously, they are seen not only in Elmira and Kitchener but all over the province.  In the Morning Edition a couple of individuals were interviewed and asked why they wanted to post the sign on their lawns. All of them seemed to be concerned about the current political climate in terms of immigrants and Muslims. None of them have been political activists before, but they all felt satisfaction in showing solidarity and acceptance by posting this 24” by 18” sign on their property.

In my previous editorial in November I wrote about a safety pin campaign. I still have a safety pin on my jacket. You may ask if it has made any difference. It has. I don’t think it has changed the world, not even my neighborhood, but it has changed me. It reminds me of the values that I stand for. In my opinion there is no room for discrimination and hate in the Christian faith.

While writing this article, I received an email from David Martin, Executive Minister of Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada. He writes:

This welcome campaign was initiated by Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, VA. First Mennonite Church in Kitchener and MCEC are collaborating to bring this Welcome Sign Campaign https://mcec.ca/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=5561&qid=178214  to Canada. The signs are also available in a number of other languages and are not copyrighted. Immanuel Mennonite is hoping this initiative will give voice across North America to our Mennonite faith and values. MCEC will also be inviting the other Area Churches in MC Canada to join in this initiative. This is an initiative that strongly resonates with MCEC’s focus on ReLearning Community and God’s call to reach out to share our faith and values with our neighbours. Join us in making a statement in your neighbourhood.

If you would like to place an order for signs, Eastern Synod congregations and their members are welcome to contact Joan Schooley jschooley@mcec.ca at the MCEC office. Signs can be picked up at the MCEC offices at 50 Kent Avenue in Kitchener. If you want to have your own signs printed by a local print shop, please go to the Welcome Sign Campaign https://mcec.ca/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=5561&qid=178214 website and download the pdf version of the sign and take it to your printer. Signs are available in a combination of English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Somali, Armenian, German, Hindi, Chinese, and Japanese. Note that Immanuel Mennonite Church would welcome knowing where the campaign is being picked up.

On this Valentine’s day eve my love quote comes from the book of Deuteronomy:

You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deut.10: 19) 

Rev Riitta Hepomaki
Assistant to the Bishop