Hockey past fought against Mennonite peaceful teachings

Mennonite Pastor Doug KlassenThe Mennonite community preaches peace but Senior Pastor Doug Klassen, 47, has often found it hard to always follow those ideals because he grew up a hockey player with fighting tendencies.

Klassen has been a pastor at Foothills Mennonite Church for 16 years and a Senior Pastor since 2000. He explained that leading a life of peace is based on how Jesus lived his life. Many Mennonites fled to North America from Holland after they were pressured into military action.

Their belief is that Jesus didn't fight so neither should they. For them violence doesn't solve any problems.

However being peaceful has often been a point of tension in Klassen's life.

Doug KlassenDoug Klassen, now an easygoing individual, happily discusses living a peaceful life in contrast to his competitive past.

Photo by Andrea Roberts
"I'm a fighter by nature. My brother and I fought every day; we probably had a thousand fist fights. It is how I used to solve problems," he says.

"I would fight. It is kind of who I am and the hard part for me is our peace position."

In addition, Klassen grew up as a hockey player — a sport not known for having peaceful values — and that made it hard for him to keep up with the religion's teachings.

He reminisces on a specific example of his struggle between sport and religion, while he was a theology student at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Man. Klassen was kicked out of a hockey game for fighting. As the student council president of the college, he was rather ashamed of the incident.
"It has been a real challenge for me but Jesus never said the way of following him would be easy."

-Doug Klassen, senior pastor at the Foothills Mennonite Church
"It was not good. It was very embarrassing and there was a meeting about it the next day. It has been a real challenge for me but Jesus never said the way of following him would be easy."

To follow the teachings of the religion he decided that it was time to live peacefully.

To do that he had to realize what was motivating him to hit the other person. In Klassen's case, it was because the people who drove him crazy where usually the most like himself.

So in order to follow his faith's peaceful ways Klassen asks himself "What would Jesus do?"

"It's kind of our guiding question. But we don't do it perfectly at all. No not at all but we keep asking."

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