Travel

Manifesto of the Mennonite Anti-Mission Association

We are Mennonites (and fellow travelers) who reject the church’s mission activities.

We believe Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural destruction. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic crusades and mission boards that proselytize, no matter how well-meaning they claim to be.

We reject the authenticity of the so-called “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:19-20). We simply don’t think Jesus said it. Most New Testament scholars doubt its authenticity as well, for a couple reasons. Firstly, any statements supposedly made by Jesus after his death must be called into question. Secondly, if Jesus told his followers to go out and convert the world, then the debate about the inclusion of Gentiles during Paul’s time makes little sense. To modern scholars, the “Great Commission” sounds more like the post-70-A.D. church talking than the historical Jesus.
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Young Adults & Church: BikeMovement 5 years later

Five years ago I joined a group of young adults called BikeMovement that biked from the Pacific Coast in Oregon to the Atlantic Shore in New Jersey. We stopped at churches along the way holding conversation about what it meant to be a young adult in the church. The journey started July 10, 2006 and ended August 25th, 46 days, 23 churches, and 3,585 miles later.
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Jesus Radicals! Anarchism and Christianity

New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009

Location
Caritas Village
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112

This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)

A bicycle pilgrimage

Hey! These folks are riding from Harrisonburg, VA to the Asuncion, Paraguay for the Global Youth Summit of Mennonite World Conference. Check them out!

http://americas.bikemovement.org/

As anyone who has been on a bike for an extended amount of time for their primary form of transportation knows, it is a life-altering experience. Godspeed to Lars and Jon and Love to all whom they will visit. I am in the process of encouraging the youth group from my church to bike to the Mennonite Youth Convention in Columbus, Ohio June 30-July 6. I hope it works out…it will definitely be life-altering. Besides saving money and petroleum, getting some fresh air and exercise, biking together is a great self-esteem and group-building opportunity. It generates an equality among races and genders through the creation of a camaraderie and shared intense, rewarding experience.

But there is some resistance. Sometimes I get so excited about something I can’t embrace alternatives. Pray for me as I discern how much to push and where to step-back….And DO visit bikemovement America’s website.

Peacemaking, Solidarity and Mining Corporations

As some of you may know, I’ve been working in Barrancabermeja, Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams since January 5. I’ve been writing regularly about my work here on my blog for the Mennonite, but I thought it was about time I wrote something here on YAR.

CPT’s work here in the Magdalena Medio has changed quite a bit since I was last here 3 years ago. At that time our work was still mainly focused on the Opon, an area where paramilitaries and guerillas threatened the civilian population as they vied for control. CPT’s work there has focused on a physical presence as a deterrent to human rights abuses, threats and killings by armed groups. CPT Colombia continues to accompany the Opon, but has also broadened it’s accompaniment to include other communities in the Magdalena Medio region.

The region is rich in resources including oil and the largest gold deposits left in South America. This means it is also a major target for multinational corporations and their proxies the Colombian government and paramilary groups. Communities across the region are finding ways to nonviolently defend their rights and their land. Today, CPT is accompanying many of the communities where that conflict is the hottest. (more…)

What if ‘going home’ was our calling?

In the past few months I’ve been noticing a startling trend. Some of the most passionate people of my generation are returning to their home communities. After college, after working overseas, a surprising number of my peers are deciding – when they could go almost anywhere – to move back to the places they grew up.

Now, you might say that I’m biased – having just moved to back Elkhart, IN for Mennonite Voluntary Service when I grew up one town away in Goshen. And I am certainly excited about how our unit is flourishing in its first year — serving as a means for a number of us young people to re-commit to an area where we’ve already had ties.

But it’s not just us. A woman raised in central plains has returned to commit herself to finding ways to live sustainably. After two years with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, a seminarian returns to intern at a congregation of farmers and businessfolk. A group of recent graduates from Goshen College decide to travel among the Central States conference for a summer of learning about how people in their home region approach peacemaking. (more…)

Advice time! What should I know or do before going to Bolivia?

It looks like I’ll be spending some time in a different hemisphere before too long. Details aren’t finalized, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be going to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for about four months starting in January. My church has been supporting an orphanage there for longer than I can remember. I’ve been hearing about this children’s home since I was 12 years old and seriously thought about going there at other decision points in my life. This time, I’m actually going and not just listing it in my options.

If we had smilies on YAR, I’d use the one where the character jumps up and down excitedly with a giant grin.

Since this will be my first trip to the Third Word—technically I was in central Jamaica when I was three, but I don’t remember it—I know I have a lot of mental work to do in the next two months. I can never be fully prepared. I expect to be changed a lot while I’m there. But there’s no reason I can’t start that personal process in the mean time.

What/who do my fellow YARs recommend I read, listen to, watch or talk to before I go? If you’ve been to Bolivia, or Santa Cruz, or even this orphanage (like Denver), what do you wish you would have known before you went? What should I pay close attention to while I’m there? What surprised you the most? What do you wish people would ask you about? (more…)

The Next Global Youth Summit

The AMIGOS met last week in Paraguay to plan the 2nd Global Youth Summit (GYS) of Mennonite World Conference (MWC). The event will happen July 10th-12th, 2009, immediately followed by MWC’s 15th World Assembly July 13-19. It will all take place in Asuncion, Paraguay…with independent trips to surrounding countries or regions before or after World Assembly.

At GYS, 50 delegates from 50 countries will meet to discuss the idea/practice of “Christian service”, social concerns, and church politics. Delegates will be given an assignment prior to the Summit to survey at least 50 people about what service means to them, what they see are the major issues in their local and national society, and youth involvement in their local church context. With answers and further questions coming in from all over the world, the delegates will work together to create a comprehensive statement on service and the other topics. They will present it to the MWC General Council, which consists of a church leader representative from each organized Menno/Anabaptist national conference in the world.

In addition to the delegates, the AMIGOS committee is expecting about 700-750 participants. Unlike the delegates who represent the youth (ages 18-30) in the Menno/Anabaptist churches in their country, participants come representating themselves, for their own personal reasons and interests. The participants create the atmosphere of theological debate and discussion, as well as a lot of laughter and soccer playing. In Zimbabwe, GYS felt like a big family reunion with all the extended family…cousins you’d never met but heard about, grandparents who told stories of days past, and lots of email exchanging and promises to “keep in touch”. It was and continues to be all about seeing who was and is part of the Menno/Anabaptist family globally: To learn that what we imagine we have in common, we don’t…and to find sweet connections through life situations that draw us closer to one another. (more…)

San Jose YAR Meetup

I was really excited to meet some of the YAR authors/lurkers at the San Jose conference this week, to hear of the kind of things you are doing inside and outside the Church, and to hear the insights you had about the future of the church.

On Wed, July 4th, several YAR authors and sympathizers had dinner and discussed issues that they felt were pressing in the church. Here are my notes from the meeting. (more…)

Meeting the Church

I haven’t taken much time on this blog to talk about myself. I should say that I am an outsider in this church – my last name isn’t Yoder, Miller, Freisen, or Moshier.

I have only been a Christian for 9 months; the Mennonite congregation I attend (a beautiful place that I hope my new-found YAR friends can come see some day) was evangelical merely by their presence – they were spiritually formative by aligning speech and action and desire and vision. I would not want to be any place else.

I am writing from the convention in San Jose; I have been here since yesterday and will be leaving tomorrow (short time, I know, but I’m a busy guy).

I am coming to learn why it is frustrating to penetrate the Mennonite world: there are a lot of people who make money off of being Mennonite. (more…)

YAR meetup in San Jose

Eric, Tim, and I just realized that the three of us will be at the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Convention in San Jose in July. We also figured that a few other contributors and readers might be as well. So, we want to have a little gathering with anyone that wants to show. We are leaning towards supper on Wednesday, July 4.

If you are going to be in San Jose for the MCUSA Convention, please leave a little comment here to tell us and we can work on plans for a gathering.
Also, you might consider coming to the Bay Area a few days early (if you haven’t already gotten tickets) to attend a weekend conference in San Francisco. It is being planned by Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests’ Supportive Communities Network in conjunction with First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and MennoNeighbors (a group that could fit the nickname OAR pretty well – don’t be offended Lin if you are reading this). For more information on the conference check out the BMC website.

Breaking my writer’s block!

Have you ever experienced something so overwhelming that it takes a while to sink into a place where it can be digested? (I’m hoping the American people are going through a “writer’s block,” so to speak, and will very soon rise up with their voices, pens, and withdrawn tax dollars to stop the worship of war in our country! But I digress…)
I spent last July in Monrovia, Liberia with my parents (they were there on a two-yr. humanitarian term with MMN, years that tested their marriage and their faith–but that’s a whole other entry!). A collapsed infrastructure is astounding and brutal to see face to face; so is the result of centuries of violence, corruption, and struggle…It’s taken me 8 months to put my experiences in Liberia onto paper…and even so, they are so hard to capture or revisit. Anyway, here are some new poems. I’d love to read others’ travel writing!
_____
TO THE GIRL ON SOMALIA DRIVE

I am not prepared to see her on Somalia Drive.
We have the car windows closed, partly
so that no arm can reach in, see what white skin
has to offer, partly to block out the loudest fumes.

Diesel trucks and busloads in front of us mimic
slowly rolling waves (children have been lost
in the mahogany puddles of rainy season potholes.)
Roads pulse with people, dogs with teats dragging, lines
of goats. We crawl past a slaughterhouse, a Coca Cola factory,
a trailer packed with workers singing
of the Promised Land.

We are some sort of horrible royalty.

After all, we are from America,
that real Promised Land that sent freed slaves here
to start Liberia, also the home of “freedom.” We are tied
to these people outside our car windows
by blood and sweat and quiet
greed. Men suck their teeth
at my mother and me, their way of getting
our unnerved attention. Looks of longing,
money signs, and awe. Babies often cry—
to them, we are ghosts.

I have learned to be overly interested in my shoes.

When I do glance up this day, I see a flash of white,
and there she is: a blue-black body
all treble clef curves, a bucket of bananas
cocked on her head. We look
at one another, five seconds
at the most.

I am becoming numb to seeing more and more
young men with missing limbs or hands,
the sickening artwork of civil war.
But meeting eyes with a faceless girl—where cheeks
and nose should be, only white, only white—

who can ever get used to that? (more…)

Anabaptist Radical Needed as Military Counselor in Germany

I’ve spent the last two years doing a job I love, working with American servicemembers who have been changed by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same way that the Pentagon technically has the right to extend a soldier’s active-duty service indefinitely during a time of war, so too do these soldiers have a right to get out early in certain situations. And war has the power to transform people. That’s where a military counselor comes in.

In a time when peace churches are having a hard time finding ways to be proactive in response to our country’s wars, this work gives us just that opportunity. More than protest, more than letter-writing, more than being “against stuff.” We can do better by providing alternatives.

In this position, you’ll learn to understand military law, military culture, and what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be opportunities to travel in the US and Europe to speak about issues of war and peace, explain what servicemembers who have been in the war actually say about it, and bring the Christian peace witness into the international debate. In the years I’ve worked in this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to speak in dozens of venues in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, and Israel/Palestine.

For more information, read the attached documents or e-mail me at mcn@dmfk.de. I’m sorry to be leaving the job, but it’s a great opportunity for someone to bring in fresh ideas and perspective. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out www.mc-network.de.

Split Youth in the Southern Cone

Bouncing directly from Angie’s latest post… always got to give a shout-out to Dorothy! But Last week the passion for exclusion came not from the institution, but from the people themselves, YOUNG people, and a student in seminary…

At the Southern Cone Mennonite Anabaptist meetings in Uruguay last week, there was a large division among the Chilean, Argentinean, Paraguan and Uruguayan youth about what was important about church and our lives as Christians. After a large time of dialogue together as young people, a small group of youth got together and wrote a letter (which was read in front of the whole assembly) about the fact that they were worried about a few themes (of the many that were mentioned in the youth meeting and throughout the conference). They took an anti-dialogue stance towards the mention of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, sex before marriage, and referring to God as Mother and Father/inclusive language. In the letter they invited everyone to do further study of the bible so that it is clear that all these practices are sin and they condemned anyone who practices or teaches these things. (more…)