I’m someone who’s mostly been away from Mennonites for the past three years, but having the distance has shown me (maybe by omission) the value for me of relationships with young Anabaptist folks — particularly ones who are passionate about investigating what it looks like to try to form our lives and relationships based on taking seriously this faith we supposedly ascribe to.
I was talking with Sarah Thompson — who’s the North American representative to AMIGOS, the Mennonite World Conference’s global young adult network — about those sorts of interests (wanting to get to know passionate Menno young folks, to talk about the church and if/how it fits with us), which is what tipped her off to nominate me for the position I’m now in as the Mennonite Church USA rep to AMIGOS. More specifics will be coming up on AMIGOS, I’m sure, but feel free to check in or ask any questions y’all like.
Perhaps an insight into what my dad calls the basic “furniture of life” would be helpful before I go too much farther. I’m Jason Shenk, a white guy generally perceived to be heterosexual who grew up in Goshen, Indiana, and who’s currently a senior at Earlham College (a marvelous Quaker school), majoring in Peace and Global Studies. My study in the past year has also included a semester abroad in Jordan and a summer intensive at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries. I am a member of 8th Street Mennonite Church in Goshen, and this summer I also attended the Faith House Fellowship, a smaller, house-church gathering on Sunday evenings. So that’s the furniture, for what it’s worth. Not the most significant, but a lot of it I’ve chosen and like pretty well.
Some interests of mine include biking, international development, doing dishes, hollering at sporting events, and anti-oppression activism. I’ve also done a fair bit of work with Mennonite-Muslim relationships in the United States, interning with the Islamic Society of North America and writing a few pieces for Mennonite Church USA. In terms of general Mennonitey interests, I’d also include how struggles over male-dominated leadership, sexual orientation, expressions of peacemaking, and access to great material wealth have shaped the character of the Mennonite Church over the years (as well as how this process has affected young adults).
I guess my path looks to be boomerang-ing back toward the world of things Mennonite for after college wraps up in May. I’m looking for some sort of Anabaptist-ish context in the US which will immerse me more fully, but am looking pretty explicitly to locate near some of the growing edges of Anabaptism. I hope to see more clearly what all that looks like here presently.
Pysched to have this space (does anyone else still use pysched?) to throw around ideas and experience — I know I’ve had a good time reading for while here before I got my game together for an introduction. So, into the fray…