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Summer 2008
vol. 63 no. 1

We regret to announce the retirement of James C. Juhnke from editorial duties for Mennonite Life as of this issue. Jim's first article appeared in the July 1961 issue (47 years ago), about his PAX service in Europe. Since then, he taught U. S. history at Bethel for many years, and was co-editor of Mennonite Life with Robert S. Kreider March 1975-June 1980, editor from December 1989-June 1995, co-editor again September 1996 to the present, including through the transition to web-based publication in 1999-2000. His enthusiastic and dedicated pursuit of articles, fresh thinking, his extensive network of contacts and friendships in Mennonite studies, and constant encouragement to all to write has helped to increase the depth and range of the archive on Mennonite existence. We wish Jim many blessings in the various Mennonite history projects he is pursuing in retirement.

In this issue

The summer issue opens with an interview with some of the most successful alumni of Bethel College as students of color during the late 1960s.

Although there were Native American students at Bethel from its earliest years, the first known African-American student was H. J. Church in 1920, whose "permanent academic record" card has the notation "(colored)." Such notations weren't made consistently, and students were not given the opportunity to self-identify racial categories until much later. Thus it has been difficult to acquire even a basic outline of the histories of African-Americans at Bethel.

In Ardie Goering's interview with the four black graduates of the class of 1969, Bill Price, George Rogers, Earl White, and the late Mike Burnett reflect on the elements that brought them to Bethel and helped to make them "friends for life." Their stories illuminate both the good intentions and the broken promises of integration on a Mennonite college campus.

Friends for Life: Four African-American Men and Bethel College

interview by Ardie Goering

A major set of essays in this issue refer in various ways to experiences of suffering and migration from Mennonite settlements in Russia.

John P. Klassen, who played a major role in establishing the legacy of artistic production and teaching at Bluffton University in Ohio, was an émigré from Russia. The essay in this issue by his son Paul is liberally illustrated with examples of the father's artwork.

John P. Klassen and the Beginnings of the Art Legacy at Bluffton University

by Paul Klassen

The story of Mennonite migrants who trekked to Central Asia in the 1880s is among the most dramatic, and perhaps the most misunderstood of Mennonite migrations and settlements. (See the articles in the Fall 2007 issue of Mennonite Life.) Walter Ratliff, whose ancestors made the trek to Central Asia, documents how the settlement of Ak Metchet near Khiva in the 1930s became a refuge for Mennonite victims of Communist collectivization and community destruction elsewhere.

Last Oasis: The Mennonite Refuge in Khiva

by Walter Ratliff

Jean Janzen, who laments and celebrates the experience of her Russian Mennonite ancestors in much of her poetry, tells us here in narrative and poetry her insights from an Orthodox icon, the Virgin of Vladimir, in the Tretryakov Gallery in Moscow. Janzen's essay also includes an encounter with a painting by Bellini in the Frari Church in Venice that reminded her of her own mother. Readers should be sure to follow the links to these two works of art to share in Janzen's quest.

My Mother in Venice

by Jean Janzen

Among the most tragic and painful stories of the Mennonite response to oppression tell of desperate people who attempted to save their own lives by betraying other members of the community. Peter P. Klassen's story in this issue is a creative non-fiction account of Mennonite betrayal and forgiveness.

Pledge of Allegiance

by Peter P. Klassen; translated and abridged by Gerhard Reimer

Darrin W. Snyder Belousek offers a rejoinder to Penelope Moon's commentary on his essay about Catholic/Mennonite relationships that appeared in our Fall 2007 issue.

One Lord, One Baptism, One Body, One Table. A Reply to Penelope Adams Moon

by Darrin W. Snyder Belousek

This issue also includes our annual Mennonite bibliography, the 59th such compilation we have published.

Mennonite Bibliography, 2007

compiled by Barbara A. Thiesen