In the spring of 2007 a Mennonite history tour group visited sites in the Ukraine and Uzbekistan in quest of memories of the "Great Trek" of 1880-1884. The pilgrims of 1880 had migrated eastward to find land to cultivate, exemption from military service, and a place of refuge from the tribulations expected before the return of Jesus Christ. The 2007 tour was an event of both historical and spiritual discovery. In this issue are essays by members of the 2007 tour—Duane Friesen, Walter Friesen, James Juhnke, and Jesse Nathan—each reflecting on some dimension of the experience. An initial essay, by historian Dilaram Inoyatova of the National University of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, presents the story of the Mennonite settlement of Ak Metchet near Khiva, Uzbekistan, from a Central Asian point of view.
Mennonite colleges and universities have been pioneers in the teaching of peace studies classes and in the introduction of peace themes across the disciplines. The ethos of Mennonite institutions tends to support a peace emphasis. But teaching peace at schools outside of the historic peace church tradition can present different challenges. Jim Zafirro, professor of political science at Central College in Pella, Iowa, tells of his attempt to introduce peace themes in a non-pacifist or anti-pacifist environment.
Our December 2006 issue carried articles by Stephanie Krehbiel and Melvin Goering that explored the some of the darker consequences of Mennonite preoccupation with the Anabaptist martyr tradition. In the following issue, five Mennonite scholars critiqued Krehbiel's and Goering's arguments. Krehbiel now responds to her critics, calling for more "high-stakes, life-and-death, hardcore dangerous storytelling."
Beginning in 1999, "Bridgefolk" has served as "a movement of sacramentally-minded Mennonites and peace-minded Roman Catholics who come together to celebrate each other's traditions." Darrin W. Snyder Belousek, a member of the "Bridgefolk" board, here offers an appeal to overcome Christian divisions and an account of a shared Eucharist that showed one way toward ecumenical renewal. Several of the Bridgefolk leaders are Mennonites who have converted to Catholicism. Responding to Belousek's essay is Penelope Adams Moon, a Catholic who has converted to Mennonitism. She asks if some expressions of reconciliation may imply an undesirable homogenization.
Electronic publication of Mennonite Life enables us to offer audio recordings of sound along with written text. In this issue Bethel College professors Mark Jantzen (history) and Bill Eash (music), and singers from Bethel College, introduce us to Mennonite "Songs of Peace from the Vistula Delta."
In our spring 2007 issue included an article by John R. Staples, "Putting 'Russia' Back into Russian Mennonite History : The Crimean War, Emancipation, and the Molochna Mennonite Landlessness Crisis." James Urry responds to a number of issues raised by Staples' article.