Patrick Friesen is the Development Coordinator at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. He brings to the position a passion for storytelling and a desire to see the Mennonite story impact people around the world. Prior to coming to the MHV, Patrick was at Steinbach Bible College where he led the worship studies program and served in a variety of administrative roles.
1. You’re a Friesen and I’m going to resist making a Friesen-Freezin’ joke here, but what I really mean is that that sounds like an ethnic Mennonite name. When did you begin to become aware of and/or appreciate your Mennonite background?
When I was in college I was selected to a singing ensemble solely on the basis of my last name. When I walked in for the audition he said, “Friesen? You’re a Mennonite?” “Yes” I said. “Then you can sing.” That was it. Oddly enough, at that point in time, I didn’t really know enough about my own faith and culture to say anything about Mennonites. So throughout my educational journey from my Bachelors on to my Doctorate in Worship Studies, I have taken every opportunity awarded to study Anabaptist history. Ironically enough early Anabaptists were known particularly for their shrill and often morbid singing as they raised their voices in martyrdom hymns through the walls of the prisons. During my years teaching at Steinbach Bible College I was given the opportunity to teach Anabaptist history for several years. The best way to learn is to be forced to teach the subject. Now I’m surrounded by people who know so much more of the history in aspects that go far beyond just the theological or faith history aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn.
2. You asked me what my favourite part of the museum is, now it’s my turn to ask you! What’s your favourite part of the museum, or which aspect do you feel deserves more attention?
Like you there are many aspects of the museum that I find fascinating. One of my keen interests is design and print media so I’m most intrigued by the old Print Shop that is in the village. The development of the moveable type printing press was a significant invention that helped to launch the protestant reformation and the Anabaptist movement as part of that. Having some of these artifacts on hand provides an opportunity for us to tell the story about how communication technology transforms society and impacts all aspects of life. History has a way of generating conversations that have significant relevance to our present day issues. Just as the printing press helped launch the exchange of ideas and greater access to the written word, how is wireless communication and the presence of the internet transforming our culture and faith?
3. The museum is able to open again, this weekend! What will this look like, what will this mean for visitors, etc?
We are limited to 25% capacity which means fewer people allowed into the gift store and galleries and auditorium. We are also required to do simple contact tracing when people come. We have lots of room outside on the grounds for those that want to skate or snowshoe so there should be lots of room for people to enjoy the outdoors. Please where a mask (mandatory inside), respect distance between household groups and use our hand sanitizing stations throughout the grounds.
4. Tell me more about the winter carnival. What day and time is it happening, what activities will be featured, what will it cost, and perhaps most importantly, will there be food?
The Winter Carnival is happening this Saturday, February 13th from 9am – 5pm. There is a large skating rink, trails throughout the grounds, snow carving stations, sledding, and a scavenger hunt. There is free admission for the carnival and yes the ladies auxiliary will be selling hot drinks, snacks and lunch items throughout the day.
5. Please tell us a bit about the MHV@Home show. What can we expect from each episode, how often are new ones posted, and where can we view them at?
At the end of January we were informed that we had received a Safe at Home grant which allowed us to purchase some needed equipment to do some virtual programming. As part of this program we are offering a 10-week video series called Mennonite Heritage Village at Home. Each week we will feature a story, some music, a spotlight on an artefact, as well as some helpful advice from Hali Reimer-Chaplin. New episodes will be released each week on Wednesdays so subscribe to our YouTube channel or follow the link on website to Mennonite Heritage Village at Home. We are also producing a separate video just for kids each week that will feature a story and a craft as well as some fun around the village. They also are released on Wednesdays.
See all episodes of MHV@Home here –> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiTAYvyR3kKTJw72d9jx64g
Erin’s note: to see my interview with Patrick on the show, click this link –> https://youtu.be/Muqo1PPx_hg