Do any of you radical anabaptists have non-radicals in your home congregation? I attend a Mennonite Church that has a large number of James Dobson fans in the congregation and another large number of people who do not want to offend any of these folks for fear of conflict and/or losing valuable members of the congregation. A friend of mine who is very peace and social justice oriented is very frustrated by the lack of support in this congregation and even some outright hostility towards peace issues being brought up in church.
We have ceased being a peace church in order to appease veterans and their spouses in the congregation. Some Mennonite women it seems have married non-Mennonite men who have military backgrounds and feel that bringing up peace issues is disrespectful to the sacrifice they made for their country. The women fear that if peace issues are brought up, their husbands will either want to attend a different church or just not attend church, so they don’t really want any peace issues brought up in church.
How do other congregations deal with this? I have suggested that the church bring in someone from the outside to help resolve these issues and to help the church unite but I don’t think the church elders are interested in stirring up controversy and will probably just continue as they have been- sort of ignoring the issue and avoiding dealing with it too directly. The church is sort of struggling- not really growing, and most of the congregation is older now.
I am very curious about how others have dealt with these issues, either as a congregation or individually. I think this must be a common issue among Anabaptist groups. Have people left for other denominations, such as the Quakers or Unitarians to find a more peace and justice-oriented group, and felt at home there? Have people attempted to deal with the issue within the congregation by some sort of mediated exchanges and dialogue among the various viewpoints? Please comment. Thank you.
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