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September 2001
vol. 56 no. 3

In this issue we celebrate the new Global Mennonite History Project (GMHP). That project has many roots, one of which is the vision of Edmund G. Kaufman, former president of Bethel College. In 1980 when Kaufman died at age 88, one of the unfinished projects on his desk was a sequel to a book he had written half a center earlier, The Development of the Missionary and Philanthropic Interest among the Mennonites of North America (1931). Kaufman's unfinished dream of an updated world Mennonite history is now being fulfilled in ways past his imagining.

The new global Mennonite history will appear in five volumes, with special emphasis upon the viewpoint of Mennonite churches outside of Europe and North America. The first three volumes are being written by authors from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The goal is to have the first two volumes completed by August 2003 in time for the 14th Mennonite World Conference in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The Mennonite World Conference is sponsoring the project. John A. Lapp is the coordinator of GMHP. His article surveying the goals and progress of the project first appeared in the February 2001 issue of the Mennonite Historical Society Newsletter and is reprinted here by permission.

The Global Mennonite History Project
John A. Lapp
John A. Lapp was executive secretary of Mennonite Central Committee from 1985 to 1996. He is the author of The Mennonite Church in India, 1897-1962 (1972).

I. P. Asheervadam is the author of the section on India in the Asia volume for the GMHP. His article in this issue is a revised version of a paper he presented at a GMHP writers' seminar at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in June 2001. In this article he explains the social background of Mennonite church growth in India.

The Historical Setting for Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches in India
I. P. Asheervadam
I. P. Asheervadam is a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church, and Professor of Church History at Rangareddi, Andra Pradesh. He also serves as one of the consulting editors for Mennonite Life.

Gilberto Flores' article in this issue tells of the growth of Hispanic Mennonite churches in North America. He is critical of recent writings by Mennonite authors who ignore or underemphasize the Hispanic Mennonite experience. Authors of non-Germanic background in the Global Mennonite History Project will be able to tell the story from a fresh point of view.

Hispanic Mennonites in North America
Gilberto Flores
Gilberto Flores was a Mennonite pastor in Guatemala and academic dean of the Mennonite seminary SEMILLA in Guatemala City. Currently he serves as 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).

The article by David Ortman tells a remarkable story of how the Seattle Mennonite Church congregation came into a legacy that opened opportunities for prophetic witness to a giant multi-national mining corporation which exploits the resources and people of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. The Seattle story is a case study in social-political engagement that touches long-debated questions of how to be in the world but not of the world.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold
David E. Ortman
David E. Ortman is a member of Seattle Mennonite Church, and serves as Executive Director of the Northwest Corporate Accountability Project, P. O. Box 17804, Seattle, WA 98107.

We continue an online tradition of Mennonite literary interviews in this issue. Brad S. Born, assistant professor of English at Bethel College, converses with Jeff Gundy, one of the most widely-read contemporary Mennonite writers. The focus is on Gundy's most recent book of poetry, Rhapsody with Dark Matter, ranging over creative writing, literary theory, and the Cookie Monster. Also included are several audio files of Jeff Gundy reading his poems, including the "Cookie Poem," destined to become a classic. See also the review of the same book by Keith Ratzlaff in the March 2001 issue.

Interview with Jeff Gundy
Brad S. Born
Brad S. Born is assistant professor of English at Bethel College.

Book Reviews

Note about past issue: Thanks to Glenn Penner of Guelph, Ontario, we now know that the anonymous 1790 Prussian sermon in our June 2001 sermon issue was written by a Hermann Neufeld (1741-1821) of the village of Blumenort, a preacher of the Rosenort church. The record reporting that Neufeld preached on Jan. 30, 1791, at Ellerwald is from “Verzeichniss der gehaltenen Predigten, samt andere vorgefallenen Merkwurdigkeiten in der Gemeine Gottes in Elbing u. Ellerwald von Anno 1778 d. 1ten Januar,” vol. OK45 at the Mennonitische Forschungsstelle in Weierhof, Germany. The MLA has this on microfilm MF CHR 52. Neufeld's biographical information comes from List of Mennonite Ministers in Prussia by Adalbert Goertz.