Paul Nelson’s legacy: a peaceful presenceIn Remembrance https://www.pjsn.org/news/Paul-Nelson’s-legacy-a-peaceful-presencePaul Nelson’s legacy: a peaceful presenceBy Kelsey Hochstetler

News

 The latest

 

 

Shodah: Walking the Trail of DeathPilgrimagehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Shodah-Walking-the-Trail-of-DeathShodah: Walking the Trail of DeathBy Cynthia Friesen Coyle
Tanya Franklin joins DOOR as the National Operations CoordinatorChicagohttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Tanya-Franklin-Joins-DOOR-as-the-National-Operations-CoordinatorTanya Franklin joins DOOR as the National Operations CoordinatorContributed by Door Staff
The Laborers are manySenthttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/The-Laborers-are-ManyThe Laborers are manyBy Peter Graber
Planting in faithSenthttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Planting-in-faithPlanting in faithBy Travis Duerksen
Face-to-face with church declinehttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Face-to-face-with-church-declineFace-to-face with church declineBy Kelsey Hochstetler
Living the call: Q&A with Sent 2018 attendeesSenthttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Living-the-call-QA-with-Sent-2018-attendeesLiving the call: Q&A with Sent 2018 attendeesContributed by Travis Duerksen
Letting God leadhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Letting-God-leadLetting God leadBy Travis Duerksen
Adella Brunk Kanagy: "We served by being learners."In Rememberance https://www.pjsn.org/news/AdellaAdella Brunk Kanagy: "We served by being learners."By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Advice to my younger meCareer Cornerhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Advice-to-my-younger-meAdvice to my younger meBy Carmen Hoober

 Voices

 

 

Shodah: Walking the Trail of Deathhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Shodah-Walking-the-Trail-of-DeathShodah: Walking the Trail of DeathBy Cynthia Friesen Coyle <p>In June 2017, I learned history by traveling in another person's shoes when I participated in the Trail of Death pilgrimage sponsored by Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. We retraced the route the Potawatomi people took when they were violently forced off their lands in 1838.<br></p><p>George Godfrey of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation is an author, teacher, and president of Trail of Death Association. He co-led our group of nine pilgrims with Katerina Friesen, AMBS professor, and Rich Meyer. </p><p> </p><p><strong>Commissioned with prayer and smudging</strong></p><p>At the foot of a statue of Chief Menominee in Twin Lakes, Indiana, we were commissioned for our journey by George, who led us in prayer facing the four directions. He then blessed us by smudging us with smoke from sage leaves burning on a clam shell. <br></p><p>Chief Menominee was part of a resistance movement that refused to sign a treaty in 1836 to sell the tribe's land to the state of Indiana and move his group across the Mississippi. He, along with many Potawatomi, wanted to stay in the area and live peacefully with the new settlers. He even traveled to Washington, D.C., to make his case, thinking if the government knew the Potawatomis' intentions, they would understand. <br></p><p>From Chief Menominee's statue, we went on a silent walk a couple miles up the road. We reached the marker where a chapel had once stood. (The Pokagon Band Potawatomi Nation had chosen to take on some of the "White man's ways" – buying and selling land, learning English, and becoming Catholic – in an attempt to live in peace with new arrivals in their region.) At the first marker, we read a litany that was to become our prayer at each of the more than 40 markers along the trail.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Litany of remembrance </strong></p><p>Standing where you walked,</p><p><strong>We remember you.</strong></p><p>Exiled under gunpoint,</p><p>loss of sacred land,</p><p><strong>We remember you.</strong></p><p>Bruised feet and weary bodies,</p><p>choked by dust and heat,</p><p>sickness stalking young and old,</p><p><strong>We remember you.</strong></p><p><strong>We lament this Trail of Death.</strong></p><p>Trail of broken promises,</p><p>theft of homelands for White man's profit.</p><p><strong>We lament this Trail of Death.</strong></p><p>We lament that our ancestors </p><p>did not dwell in peace.</p><p><strong>Creator of all, we long for new vision today.</strong></p><p><strong>Open our eyes and give us sight</strong></p><p>to seek the things that make for peace,</p><p>to see the image of God in all peoples,</p><p>especially those persecuted and oppressed.</p><p><strong>Make a new way for us together.</strong></p><p><strong>Guide our feet, O Lord, on a Trail of Life.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Betrayal and drumbeat of deaths</strong></p><p>On Sept. 4, 1838, General Tipton called a meeting at the church. When Chief Menominee, two other chiefs, and many of their people arrived, they were surrounded by militia. The chiefs were placed in a jail wagon, and 850 men, women and children were forced at gunpoint out of their homeland. As they looked back, they saw their homes burning in the distance. <br></p><p>As we followed the Trail of Death from marker to marker in a caravan of three vehicles, we read aloud from a journal kept by one of the soldiers who had been on the march. We learned that the forced march averaged 17 miles each day. Food and water were scarce because the summer of 1838 was particularly hot and dry. Many streams had dried up. Almost every entry included in its description of the day, "nothing of significance happened." But each entry ended with the number of people who had died, as if it were an insignificant fact! The drumbeat of deaths reported each day of the journey felt like nails piercing my heart. </p><p> </p><p><strong>Fear or embrace of God's diversity</strong></p><p>First Mennonite Church in Champaign-Urbana (Illinois) hosted us on Pentecost Sunday. Michael Crosby preached about America's fear of difference. "Diversity is not the problem," he said. "Banding together behind walls of mono-cultural security is considered the real madness in God's economy."<br></p><p>God's expression of God's self is beautifully varied and complex. It is not a hierarchical, controllable world that must be protected from chaos at all costs, said Pastor Crosby. "God invites us to reject the fear of unpredictability and uniformity, and instead to hang on to the good news that God makes everything different in this wild, wonderful world and it is all so very good." <br></p><p>Often instead of seeing this diversity of people groups as something to embrace and rejoice in, we fear "the other" and seek to destroy them. Our nation was founded out of a massive genocide of the Native people groups who inhabited this land. I had to wonder, what might this land have been like if our ancestors had chosen to live together in peace with the Native inhabitants and learn from one another?</p><p> </p><p><strong>Anabaptists benefit from Potawatomi removal</strong></p><p>As we crossed the Mississippi River and entered Missouri, we listened to letters written by President Andrew Jackson outlining how the governor of Indiana was to take the land in such a way that the Potawatomi people would not realize what was happening to them before it was too late. And, if they didn't move, President Jackson described the kind of force they would use to push them out. This removal of the Potawatomi people was so cold and calculating, I think all of us felt unfairness and anger boil within us. <br></p><p>My relatives were some of the Mennonites and Amish farmers who were invited to come make the land productive. Our group noted that Mennonites have been slow to pick up arms to defend a country, and yet they willingly pick up a plow for the empire. <br></p><p>I am a Mennonite and have always valued what I thought was long history of caring for others, of loving enemies, of following Jesus' example of treating others as we want to be treated. Now I have questions like: What were my ancestors really like? Did they realize the destruction and devastation that preceded the building of their homesteads? Did they treat the Indians with respect or with fear? Did they also kill Indians as many settlers did? I asked one of my great aunts if she had any stories that had been handed down, but she had none.</p><p> </p><p><strong>End of the trail</strong></p><p>The Potawatomi exiles finally reached their destination at Sugar Creek Mission, Kansas, in November. Contrary to reassurances, there was no food and no houses for them. The 800 survivors may have created shelter by hanging hides over a ravine. It was a terrible winter for them. In the 10 years the Potawatomi stayed at Sugar Creek, more than 600 died. We gathered around six crosses with the names of those who died. As we read aloud each name and the age of the person, we said, "<em>Shodah</em>" (which means "here or present" in Potawatomi). We also poured water on the ground for each name as a symbol of healing. <br></p><p>We sang and prayed. George and Katerina led us in communion. Eddie Joe, a Prairie Band Potawatomi spiritual leader, shared his version of the history of Turtle Island (his people's name for the United States), prayed, and smudged each one of us.<br></p><p>I felt like I had walked on holy ground.<br></p>
The Laborers are manyhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/The-Laborers-are-ManyThe Laborers are manyBy Peter Graber<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Most Mennonites believe in church planting, and some are willing to act on those beliefs. In 2007, Conrad Kanagy published a comprehensive survey of Mennonite Church USA</span><a href="file:///C:/Users/daniellek/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/2O2N3YCF/The%20Laborers%20are%20Many.docx#_ftn1" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">[Footnote 1]</span></a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">.  Kanagy noted that interest in church planting had declined since the last survey in 1989, but remained stronger with Racial/Ethnic members and pastors.  The numbers could be disappointing for those who believe God calls us to seek new believers and start new churches. </span></p><p> </p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Table 4.1 from p. 80 of </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Road Signs for the Journey</em></p><p><em><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2018/Table.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="Table.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br></em></p><p><br></p><p>But read closer:  In 2006, Mennonite Church USA had about 100,000 members.  If 10 percent were willing to move their families to help start a new congregation, that would be 10,000 people ready to move to start new congregations across the country.  If 30 people move for each site, that would be 330 church plants.  Standing with them would be 20,000 people ready to volunteer their time and 48,000 people willing to donate.  And if 31 percent of the estimated 1,000 pastors are also willing to plant a church, there would be 310 church planters ready to lead those efforts.<br></p><p>Of course, it is 2018, not 2006.  All the numbers are smaller, and some attitudes have changed.  After all, a check mark on a survey does not guarantee that someone would take the risk of </p><p>moving to begin a new church.  But what if only a tenth of what is projected above were possible?  Are there not 1,000 people and 30 pastors ready to move to begin new congregations?  <br></p><p>The answer is yes!  People across Mennonite Church USA have been reaching out to neighbors and acting as midwives to newly formed faith communities.  For the last three years, many of them have gathered at an annual conference, <em>Sent,</em> led by Mennonite Mission Network.  Not all would call themselves "church planters," but they share a common vision to give their lives to people who are not yet Christians. <br></p><p>At the most recent <em>Sent</em> conference in Chicago, "there were no blue hymnals in sight, no four-part harmonies.  No one even asked me my last name or tried to play the Mennonite game," said Zach Martinez, pastor of Sojourn Mennonite Church of Northern Colorado.  "Instead, the conference seemed to seek a theological commonality, a commonality centered on the idea of a peace church."<br></p><p>And this somewhat invisible movement among us does not leave those not directly involved unaffected.  Vern Rempel, Littleton, Colorado, commented that "there was a sense that legacy churches often greatly benefit from new church starts, and may even see new life themselves from the new activity around them."<br></p><p>Immigrant churches, especially Hispanic congregations, have been leading the way in church planting for many years.  Legacy congregations are beginning to test the waters.  And church leaders are listening.  Area conference leaders are seeking ways to support church planters in their regions.  Mennonite Mission Network has had a church-planting staff person for a decade, networking with interested leaders and offering training and support.  Mission Network has also been encouraging local outreach through the Missional Discipleship Initiative, and testing a training program for new church planters, which will launch in January 2019.<br></p><p>The not-so-small minority from the 2006 survey has turned into a movement within Mennonite Church USA.  We shall see what God will do by the time the next denominational survey is made in 2023.<br></p><p><br></p><p><a href="file:///C:/Users/daniellek/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/2O2N3YCF/The%20Laborers%20are%20Many.docx#_ftnref1"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">[1]</span></a><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2"> Kanagy, Conrad L., </span><em class="ms-rteFontSize-2">Road Signs for the Journey: a profile of Mennonite Church USA</em><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">, Herald Press, 2007, Scottdale, Pa.</span></p>
Living the call: Q&A with Sent 2018 attendeeshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Living-the-call-QA-with-Sent-2018-attendeesLiving the call: Q&A with Sent 2018 attendeesContributed by Travis Duerksen<p>​<span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;">NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – </span><span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;">Pastors, church planters, and people from all over the country gathered in Chicago May 4-6 for the Sent 2018 peace church conference to worship and share how God is moving in their churches and communities. I caught up with two attendees to talk about their experiences. Hendy Stevan is the pastor of Bethany Elshaddai Creative Community Church, a Franconia Mennonite Conference congregation founded in 2002 in New York City, and Eric King works with TiLT [Taos Initiative for Life Together] in Taos, New Mexico, which is described on TiLT's website as a "Mennonite-inspired social change movement."</span></p><p> </p><p>Hendy Stevan, Bethany Elshaddai Creative Community</p><p><strong><em>What brought you to New York City?</em></strong></p><p><strong>Hendy:</strong> I was working with a church in Bandung, Indonesia, and my senior pastor asked me if I would be willing to help with an Indonesian congregation church in New York City. I was excited, and my wife and I prayed about it, and we had this confirmation that God wanted us to go.</p><p>It took my wife and me three years to move to New York City, because my visa got rejected twice, but I had a calling that God wanted me to be a blessing for New York City; God wanted me to be a blessing for people in the United States. </p><p>Even though it took us three years, I still felt the calling from God to become a blessing, and to preach the gospel out of my comfort zone. We arrived in New York two years ago and we started to help give the church a new energy, and especially start reaching out to the second generation, the young adults and youth in the church.</p><p><strong><em>What role do you see your church playing in the local community?</em></strong><em> </em></p><p><strong>Hendy:</strong> Our church is mostly older people who are first-generation immigrants from Indonesia, so in the future I want this church to become a blessing for the city, open up the barriers of the immigrant church, and start to become more multicultural. We've started to have preaching in English, as well as some of the worship songs. Most of the second generation that attends don't really understand if you speak Indonesian, and we don't want to lose the second generation. </p><p><strong><em>Could you explain more about the experience of becoming a multicultural church?</em></strong></p><p><strong>Hendy:</strong> It's a challenge, of course, but also an opportunity because I learned how to work with older people. We're different generations. I'm a millennial and they are mostly boomers … if we are not careful, we can create conflict. But if we just sit together and really talk about our fears, our backgrounds, I think the rock and the river can work together. The transition can be a little bit tricky, but God wants me to learn how to love, how to serve, and how to teach. I think that is the point that I'm working on with this congregation, is to love, serve, and to teach.</p><p> </p><p>Eric King, TiLT [Taos Initiative for Life Together]</p><p><strong><em>How did you get involved with TiLT?</em></strong></p><p><strong>Eric:</strong> Todd Wynward is the director and founder of TiLT, and he's written a book called <em>Rewilding the Way</em>, which I had read, and it was pretty compelling. It talks about affluenza in the United States, the addiction to consumption, and how destructive that is, and how it results in injustice. He came and spoke in Harrisonburg, where I was living, so that's how I knew about the opportunity. I was interested in moving [to New Mexico] for a few reasons, one was to try to integrate my personal living with my work life and to develop the values that I resonate with personally. Also, for the spiritual experience and hoping to gain some professional development out of it as well, through managing the [TiLT] site and being a creative force. It's the adventure of the Southwest. Desert life. </p><p><strong><em>How would you sum up what role TiLT plays in the Taos, New Mexico, community?</em></strong></p><p><strong>Eric:</strong> TiLT is seeking to be a multifaceted entity. We're primarily an urban agricultural site. "Bioregional resiliency" is a phrase we use often, which means that we're trying to grow what our region can grow when it can grow it, and move away from the industrial food system that is so destructive to the land and to its people. </p><p>We're also engaged in community organizing, especially in the area of racial reconciliation, as Taos is a hotspot for cultural diversity. We've got the indigenous population, the Latino population, and the White population. There's both tension and potential in Taos. So the question is how do we bridge those cultural gaps, and make Taos a stronger community as a whole by utilizing that diversity? A lot of what we're ultimately trying to do is to follow Jesus as people who are trying to restore the land, and honor and dignify other human beings. The gospel embodied. We're a very young organization, so it's a bit messy at times, but how else do you do it?<br></p><p><br></p><p>For more information about Sent, visit <a href="http://www.mennonitemission.net/sent">www.mennonitemission.net/sent</a>.<br></p>
Advice to my younger mehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Advice-to-my-younger-meAdvice to my younger meBy Carmen Hoober<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">In my lifetime, I have been the recipient of all kinds of advice – good and bad, solicited and unsolicited, helpful and hurtful, and some that was just downright strange (the English professor who was convinced I should work for the FBI comes to mind). </span></p><p>Even the Bible has something to say about why we should value advice: "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14)</p><p>Sometimes the problem is not so much that there's a dearth of advice, but rather whose advice do you listen to? After all, lots of people are probably willing to give their opinion on how you should live your life and what choices you should make, and that's all well and good, and yet at the end of the day, <strong>you</strong> are the one who has to live <strong>your</strong> life. </p><p>However, there is ONE kind of advice I always pay attention to and oftentimes solicit – the advice people would give their younger<em> </em>selves. Framed this way, you are more likely to hear something that has <em>meaning </em>– if not for your own practical use, then certainly as a way to widen and inform your understanding of the human experience. </p><p>The concept of giving advice to your younger self is fascinating to me. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to hop into a time machine, travel back to pivotal moments in your life, tap your younger self on the shoulder, and say things like, "Go sit next to that girl in the back row; she could use a friend," or "You will forever regret it if you do not speak up right now," and "Do not eat the fish tacos. DO NOT EAT THE FISH TACOS!!!" (Valentine's Day 2014). Alas, time machines haven't been invented yet (<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/time-travel-possible-time-machine-dr-who-tardis-spacetime-university-of-british-columbia-university-a7711411.html">or have they?</a>), which is why, sadly, the smell of salmon continues to make me nauseous. </p><p>As many of you are transitioning out of MVS, I thought it might be fun to leave you with some advice from those of us at the MissionNetwork/Mennonite Church USA offices. Remember: This is not prescriptive for you and your life necessarily; it is simply advice we would give our younger selves. And to those of you moving on, Godspeed my friends! It's been a pleasure getting to know you. Stay in touch!</p><p> </p><p><strong>Advice to my younger self:</strong></p><p>Anything you see was made by somebody or made possible by somebody. That somebody could be you. You have the ability to do whatever you want, but once you start down a career path, it's much harder to change direction. Make every effort to learn everything and explore every possibility.</p><p>Develop good references while you're in high school and college. When you apply for jobs, the one thing that can make the difference is knowing the right people, be it a good reference, or somebody in the company you're applying at. </p><p>Be professional, well organized, and free from distractions during a job interview. I've seen this make the difference between people who got a job and people who didn't. </p><p>Everyone you meet has something worthwhile they can teach you. </p><p>Buy as much Bitcoin as you can. Pour every single cent you have into buying Bitcoin while it's at 35 cents apiece, and hold it until November 2017.</p><p>The winning numbers for the Aug. 23, 2017, lottery is 6-7-16-23-26, Powerball 4. Take a lump sum and invest it.</p><p>The Cubs win the World Series in 2016 in seven games, in extra innings, after a rain delay. I know it sounds unbelievable. By the way, they'll be playing Cleveland, so get ready for some heartbreak. Get your bet in now.</p><p>-Matt Lehman Wiens, MMN outgoing director of Donor Relations</p><p> </p><p>If I could give advice to my younger me, I would say not to worry so much about controlling the future. Since graduating from college, I have dealt with anxiety. I have learned that anxiety comes from wanting to control future outcomes. Something I have learned the hard way is that I do NOT have superhuman powers to do that. We will make mistakes, we might not get the jobs we interview for, or get into the graduate schools we wanted to, or end up living in the geographical location of our dreams … but, regardless, we get through those things and survive. I would have NEVER imagined that I would end up being the director of a voluntary service program. If things would have turned out "my way" in a lot of cases, I would not be where I am today. Control what you can, but also try to just enjoy the ride! Things happen for a reason ... don't dwell on the "why." It might be revealed to you in ways you never imagined! </p><p>-Lizzy Diaz, MVS Manhattan alum 2015, director, Mennonite Voluntary Service</p><p> </p><p>"When choosing between being right and being kind, choose kind." What job you end up with, what career path you follow, what type of work you eventually do, is not what matters. The relationships you build along the way will be the lifeboat that helps you survive the next few decades. </p><p>-Linda Krueger, HR coordinator and MVS alum, Americus, Georgia (with EMBMC) 1980-1983</p><p><br></p><p>One bit of advice I received years ago was: Never pass up the opportunity to look into/interview for different positions even if you are happy with what you are doing. You might find your dream job when you least expect it.</p><p>-Scott Hartman, director of Event Planning, Mennonite Church USA</p><p><br></p><p>I would tell my younger self to not be as concerned with what job I want to do (like figuring out my dream job) and building a "successful career" as I am with what kind of person I want to be. Because, first of all, what truly defines a successful life is who you are, not what you do! Second, it's nearly impossible to know exactly what you will want to do for the rest of your life when you are in your 20s. In fact, many of the great jobs out there are not included on any career lists (like my job, for example!), so it just takes time and life experience to find them. What I have found is that as you try out different jobs/tasks, you discover what things you are really good at and what things are energizing/life-giving for you – and that might even change over time. Rather than thinking about where you want to be at the end of your work career, just focus on the very next step. </p><p>-Tonia Martin, MVS alum (San Antonio 1995-1996) and Program Human Resources care coordinator</p><p><br></p><p>I think I had a lot of negative self-talk as a young adult, thinking I wasn't smart enough, talented enough, qualified enough to aim high. I often set the bar low for myself and took the path of least resistance. I have begun challenging myself more now since my late 30s and 40s, and am pleased with the results. I don't always reach the higher bar, but it isn't because I didn't give my best effort. I would advise my younger self to not settle for mediocre when a little more effort or confidence would make a difference. <br></p><p>-Sharon Norton, Personnel counselor/Journey International program director </p><p> </p><p>Pursue what interests and excites you more than what you've been told makes a "sensible" career choice. High earning potential is no substitute for high satisfaction, a sense of fulfillment, and joy in what you do.</p><p>-Mike Sherrill, director for Asia and Middle East</p><p><br></p><p>Soon after getting married, I learned that you can figure out what your spouse expects on their birthday by observing what they do for you on your birthday. Communicating with coworkers is often like that, and they will communicate their expectations by how they communicate with you. Often, I get reminded that what works for me may not work for others. Everyone has their preference, and figuring out your own preferences will help. Teammates who like the same style as you are easy to communicate with. Working with others is where it can get tricky. At times, you have to negotiate with a coworker on how to effectively communicate back and forth, and both of you adapt.<br></p><p>In work situations where there is a conflict and you have a personal stake in things, ask a third party to step in. They can see things without emotion or bias, and their counsel is easier for others to hear. Emotionally charged situations are best navigated by people who have no personal stake in the matter.</p><p>-Ken Regier, director of Program Human Resources</p><p><br></p><p>The fear of failure and rejection is actually worse than failing and being rejected. With every choice you make there will be tradeoffs; you can't avoid risk, so you might as well get comfortable with it. (Also, I wasn't kidding about those fish tacos.)<br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">-Carmen Hoober, Personnel counselor, Program </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Human Resources</span></p><p><br></p>
The "nitty gritty" of Anabaptismhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/The-nitty-gritty-of-AnabaptismThe "nitty gritty" of AnabaptismBy Peter Wigginton<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">While I have been giving presentations and workshops on Anabaptism I have started to realize how little I really knew growing up.  People would always ask, "Who are the Mennonites?" Or "How are Mennonites any different from other Christian groups?" I wouldn't say much more than we are pacifists and we also do this thing called foot washing.  That really didn't help explain much. People would usually just take the answer in stride… probably still wondering.</span></p><p>But as I have delved more into the nitty gritty of philosophies and doctrine, I have come up with some fascinating stories and information.  I am much more in touch with what Anabaptism really means. I have defended and explained in detail many of these ideas and values.  I have also tried to explain ideas surrounding pacifism and nationalism, in a context that is vastly different from a European or North American context. I have been blessed with numerous discussions contrasting and comparing indigenous ideas (that come from the historic Andean Cosmo-vision in many cases) to Anabaptist practices, customs and frameworks.</p><p>So far, the example of "Jesus Being the Center of our Faith" is the easiest point to get across and people tend to latch on to that idea and run with it.  The concept of interpreting the scripture in community has also been embraced by many of the churches here. In the Latin American context, I have had to explain more about the idea of Jesus' authority in a context of government, but otherwise, people really love this basic value.</p><p>One example of how indigenous thought and way of living melds perfectly with Anabaptist values is when it comes to community.  The second value that "Community is the Center of our Lives" lines up with these indigenous ways of life. The community concept is readily accepted by indigenous churches, but the mestizo and North American churches could take a lesson from the example of indigenous churches who have community and truly live in community.</p><p>The Quito Mennonite church has also been acting on the idea of organizing the church in small groups and have also taken this to heart by forming a pastoral team. They have not had a salaried pastor for a year, but rather are trusting the pastoral team and are setting up new commissions to support the team in leading the congregation.</p><p>The Indigenous and mainline Ecuadorian context, as far as the third value "Reconciliation is the Center of our Work" or pacifism goes, is a bit more complicated.  Generally speaking, Ecuador has been a nation at peace, relatively, for many, many years, and the idea of pacifism, as a value, doesn't seem to resonate.  But there is a nationalistic ideal (as I mentioned before), so people don't really see military service as a tool of war, but rather as a place where boys become men. This is similar to many other Latin American nations, with the exception of Colombia, which has experienced civil war for half a century.  Indigenous culture doesn't seem to have much of an idea of pacifism either, unless you take into account being at peace with nature, which is extremely important for them.</p><p>The idea of reconciling brothers and sisters in the church is also very powerful and is important in the different Ecuadorian communities, especially since this hasn't been something very intentional in other Evangelical church settings here in general in Latin America.</p><p>Taking all this into account, people seem to be able to grab hold of the concept that we should be ambassadors of peace and that this should be our message to carry forward to all nations of the world, reconciling each other and reconciling new believers through Christ.<br></p><p><br></p><p>Read more from Peter and Delicia on their <a href="https://wiggipe.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/the-nitty-gritty-of-anabaptism/">blog</a>.<br></p>
Voice of youth helps life-seasoned couple find new meaning through servicehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Voice-of-youth-helps-life-seasoned-couple-find-new-meaning-through-serviceVoice of youth helps life-seasoned couple find new meaning through serviceBy Sondra Tolle<p> </p><p>​I, a Bethel College-educated woman, speak from a place of many kinds of privilege, including White privilege. I received the blessings of being born to a hard-working Kansas farm family with Christian values. I experienced family as people who take care of each other. My Mennonite community will never stop loving and showing grace and mercy to this middle-aged couple who have grown children successfully launched into their own real-life journeys. My voice of privilege comes from being allowed to work in the United States, where I can spend money, save money, and share money. </p><p>My husband, Bob, and I decided to share money and time with Mennonite Mission Network’s Service Adventure program. Our commitment to a three-year term was inspired by a former mentee from Eden Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas. She was serving in Anchorage, Alaska, with Service Adventure, and knew I was struggling with meaningful employment. She said this would be a good fit for us. God spoke through the voice of youth and opened my heart to see life through her perspective. I am grateful for this gift, and pray that Bob and I may use it wisely to help others seek the Lord. </p><p>We are also grateful for the intergenerational relationships that have been formed through the holy experience of faith formation and community living. During the past three years, we have had the opportunity to grow deeper in our own faith as we walked beside 14 young people for 10 months of their life journeys. </p><p>The spirit of joy is a common thread woven through each of the three units we walked alongside. The fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ... against such things there is no law.” The fruits of the Spirit reciprocated from the Service Adventure participants have been experienced in a lovely way. </p><p>We cherish the memories of shared tears and laughter – and continue to share them, as we remain in communication with the Service Adventure participants who have moved on to the next steps to which God is calling them. And so, too, it is for this middle-aged couple to continue the next faithful step. Our lives have been forever transformed by our Service Adventure experiences. Though we are formally leaving unit life, we will remain in Albuquerque to be used by God in whatever way we are called.<br></p>