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September 2000
vol. 55 no. 3

Welcome to the third on-line issue of Mennonite Life. As before, we look forward to your feedback on this continuing experiment in Mennonite studies.

To what distinctive mission is God calling the Mennonites in the 21st century? What Anabaptist Vision can nurture and empower the church in our time?

On 15-18 June 2000, some one hundred persons gathered on the campus of Bethel College to wrestle with questions such as these. They were participants in a symposium entitled "An Anabaptist Vision for the New Millennium: A Search for Identity." Sponsored by the Fransen Family Mennonite Foundation of Normal, Illinois, the symposium sought to bring together a broad spectrum of persons for whom the questions posed above matter -- persons from academia, persons from all business and professional walks, persons from the church, persons with a heart for the church. These participants worshiped together, dialogued together, struggled together in the search for an Anabaptist/Mennonite identity that would shape this people of God in the new millennium.

The symposium program included eight plenary sessions, twenty-eight presenters, eight worship services, and much discussion. The presenters included eleven professors (representing seven different Mennonite colleges and seminaries), six pastors, seven students, three church agency employees, and one businesswoman. They included an African Mennonite, an Asian Mennonite, an Hispanic Mennonite, and an African-American Mennonite. They included MCs, GCs, MBs, and one Kleine Gemeinde Mennonite. The worship sessions ranged from a capella four-part harmony, to praise songs, to jazz piano and saxophone, to liturgical movement with candles, to electric guitars. There were readings, reflections, even the sharing of "phylacteries."

Clearly, this was no "ordinary" academic conference, with polished, carefully footnoted papers ready for publication in the proceedings of a scholarly conference. Of the twenty-eight presenters, twenty-six were limited to fifteen minute "manifestos" on their assigned topic. They were asked to prepare presentations designed to be heard, not read. From the very first manifesto to the last summary, however, the presentations were thoughtful, profound, passionate, and sometimes deeply moving. They generated a great deal of discussion, much laughter, and not a few tears. It was clear to us that this symposium was a gift to the church that must be more widely shared.

This issue of Mennonite Life is one way that sharing takes place. Presented here are the manifestos from three of the sessions at the symposium:

  • all four manifestos from the opening session on "A Search for Identity"
  • all four manifestos from the the session on "Theology and Church"
  • and two of the four manifestos from the session on "Worship".
The authors prepared their manifestos for oral presentation. They have been edited only slightly for publication. To share the flavor of the original presentations, we include audio recordings (in mp3 format) for 3 of the manifestos: (Unfortunately, we don't have streaming audio capability yet.)

In addition to the ten manifestos presented here, the complete set of twenty-eight presentations will be published by Pandora Press, Waterloo, Ontario. The book will be titled Anabaptist Visions for the New Millenium: A Search for Identity, edited by Dale Schrag and James C. Juhnke.

A Search for Identity

More Than an Anabaptist Vision: A Call for Radically New Relationships between the Sexes
Brenda Martin Hurst
Brenda Martin Hurst is a doctoral student at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. She is an ordained pastor and served as pastor of the Tabor Mennonite Church in rural Newton, Kansas, for eleven years. She and her husband, Ray, are members of the Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Requisite Conditions for Identity and Vision
Karl Koop
Karl Koop is Assistant Professor of Theology and Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He serves as Associate Director of the Institute for Mennonite Studies. He is a member of Eighth Street Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.

Deeper Than Our Roots
Chuwang Pam
Chuwang Pam was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 1994. In 1996 he planted the Los Angeles Faith Chapel. He works with the Center for Anabaptist Leadership in Pasadena as Staff Associate in charge of African and African American Congregations. He is a board member of the Commission on Home Ministries and a member of the task force of the Stewardship Committee for the new Mennonite Church.

Spiritual Empowerment toward Discipleship
C. Arnold Snyder
C. Arnold Snyder has been Professor of history at Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo, since 1985. He also taught history at Bluffton College (1979-84) and headed Witness for Peace in Managua, Nicaragua (1984-85). He is the author of a number of books on Anabaptist history, including Anabaptist History and Theology: An Introduction (1995).

Theology and Church

One Church with Different Orders
Marion G. Bontrager
Marion G. Bontrager has taught in the Bible and Ministry Department at Hesston College since 1973. Earlier he served as pastor of Friendship Mennonite Church in Cleveland, and as teacher and campus pastor at Central Christian High School. He is a member of Hesston Mennonite Church.

Church as an Instrument of Hope
Gilberto Flores
Gilberto Flores is Director of Hispanic Resource Ministries and Anabaptist Biblical Institute for the Commission on Home Ministries of the General Conference Mennonite Church. He is the author of Desafio y Mision de la Iglesia (1983). He is a member of First Mennonite Church, Newton, Kansas.

A Church Shaped by God's Grace
Katherine Pitts
Katherine Pitts is pastor of Salina Mennonite Church in Kansas. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Specialist in Education degree from Wichita State University.

The Spirit and Barbed Wire
Vernon K. Rempel
Vernon Rempel since 1996 has been pastor of First Mennonite Church in Denver. From 1986 to 1996 he was pastor of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a blues/jazz pianist and a speaker on blues/jazz music.


The Trinity as a Template for Worship
Marlene Kropf
Marlene Kropf is Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation and Worship at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Minister of Worship and Spirituality at Mennonite Board of Congregational Ministries. She is the author of Praying with the Anabaptists: The Secret of Bearing Fruit (1994). She is a member of Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana.

Mennonite Worship: A Multitude of Practices Looking for a Theology
John Rempel
John Rempel is the Mennonite Central Committee liaison to the United Nations in New York City. He has served as chaplain at Conrad Grebel College and, for ten years, as minister of the Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship. He is the author of The Lord's Supper in Anabaptism (1993) and editor of The Minister's Manual (1999).

Book Reviews