Call for Brainstormers

Tim Nafziger and Roxy Allen are looking for 4-6 brainstormers (aka community organizers) for a young adult pre or post-Mennonite USA Convention 2009 in Columbus, Ohio gathering.

The brainstormers will help us develop a theme and relevant programming topics and activities for this gathering to

1) facilitate networking among young (ages 18-30ish) progressive Anabaptists and

2) re-establish meaningful connection to our faith through a global, Anabaptist perspective.

Ideally we would build off of a vision young adults presented at the previous convention, which you can read here:

Great for young adult delegates to the convention!

Please comment below or email me if interested.


Comments (13)

  1. Tim Baer

    What does “progressive” mean?

  2. Roxy

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your comment/question!

    When I say “young … progressive Anabaptists” above, I mean those who want to create change within the church, i.e. becoming more inclusive, developing further our radical peace witness, and other issues. I’d encourage you to read the statement that some young adults made (including myself) at the previous convention, linked to above. Also, I’d be happy to speak with you further if you have any more questions. Thanks again for taking the time to leave your comment/question!


  3. Tim Baer

    So, if I may ask, why is the young adult conference limited to those with more liberal views?

  4. Roxy

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks again for another question. Since we haven’t planned the conference yet (we’re still looking for brainstormers), I would say we haven’t made decisions on who the intended audience is; however, it’s at least my vision to bring together those who are young and want to make the church more inclusive and live out its radical mission.

    I’d be happy to discuss this further with you via the phone. Please email me if you’d like to set something up –



  5. Lora

    Tim Baer: In my experience, she who makes the food, sends the invitations and hosts the bash gets to invite pretty much whoever she wants. From what I’ve understood from Roxy, this endeavor is (much like YAR) not endorsed by any church body–and therefore exempt from being representative of the whole. It also (again, like YAR) seems to be more aimed at creating some level of community among like-minded folks, rather than facilitating dialogue among polarized groups of people. I find generally that people have enough energy to do one of those things well, and if the intent was not to dialogue it tends to spiral downward really quickly into ideological stances where no one is listening, and everyone is spinning wheels in the mud.

    But I’m genuinely curious about your questions; I assumed by them that you wouldn’t put yourself under the “progressive/liberal” label (perhaps an incorrect assumption). If that’s the case, what benefit/gain/draw would you see–both to yourself and to others who may see themselves as your theological and political opposites–by being part of such a gathering?

  6. ST

    Lora Lora. Always insightful. Good luck with whatever you’re doing now!

  7. Tim Baer

    *This is gonna be long. My apologies.*

    Lora, Let me answer your questions in a backward order since I think that will make more sense to the reader.

    Am I a liberal? I would say I am not of any political persuasion. I lean to classical liberalism which I guess is sort of a backward moderate. I don’t really like to label myself but, for the record, since I’ve never much posted it here: I believe in free markets, trading goods for services, and letting people be self sufficient. Like the great Republican Teddy Roosevelt I believe that corporations, if left unchecked, will take advantage of people less versed in the world of economics. I also believe that governments the world over take advantage whenever possible. And, quite possibly, people as a whole do. Simply put, those in power merely have the means of oppression, but those without it would probably do the same damned thing (Who can take sides with that sort of cynical outlook?). I’m impartial and believe in balance, creating opportunities while limiting governmental/corporate interest. I don’t align myself with any movement because I dislike agendas that must be met. I’m certainly no feminist, nor government lobby, nor supporter of any right to life league, nor Dobson devotee, and I wouldn’t serve on any anti-racism committee. I don’t believe in war but I’d a kill a man who directly threatened my family and displayed the means to do so. I believe homosexuality is a sin but support the right of gays to marry (all my friends are sinners anyway so who gives a shit? All the sinners welcome here!) I believe drugs should be legal in locales where the populace deems it fit, as well as prostitution, though I abhor both. I’ve never looked at porn. I believe the way to fight poverty is to help people become self sufficient. I like the Heifer Project. I believe welfare keeps people down without other long term programs to help people overcome difficulties. I think we need a genuine discussion on abortion in this country and honest talk about global warming. I’m tired of rhetoric from radicals on both sides of the aisle who merely want to enflame their adversaries and promote their agenda. I believe bailing out GM is a mistake since it hasn’t made money in a decade. I believe taxes should be cheaper for American companies than import taxes for foreign ones. I believe in a seat at the table for everyone but reservations for no one. I believe bacon is delicious. I’m really, really good at foosball.

    With all that said, politics doesn’t matter. You really think God is going to ask who you voted for? Or do you think He’ll ask what we did with ourselves? I think the latter.

    So yeah, whoever throws the party invites the guests. Agreed. I guess I question MC USA and the whole liberal/conservative conundrum that faces it. I believe that the denomination will either be forced to purge a segment of their congregations or some will purge themselves. There is a very real, very tangible, “Us vs. Them” mentality in the church right now. And both sides are trying to undermine the other it seems. Certainly congregations, like my own, can be very liberal. Others can be very conservative. Is there a way to bring these two opposing sides together? I dunno. I do know, one thing I am sure of, is that if this polarization continues, the denomination cannot last. I fear that in 10 years we will see a split.

    So while you question the rationale of creating dialogue between polarized groups of people, I question “Why not?” To me, if talk doesn’t happen, the denomination is lost. Indeed, I fear it may already be.

    ” If that’s the case, what benefit/gain/draw would you see—both to yourself and to others who may see themselves as your theological and political opposites—by being part of such a gathering?”

    I think we need to understand a couple things. The church is not a political refuge, nor should it be. It is a theological institution. And perhaps this is where I differ greatly from virtually everyone.

    Let’s talk about illegal immigration. The conservatives say: “The Bible says to obey your government and illegal immigration is illegal and these illegall immigrants should all be sent back. Let’s form a political action committee.”

    Liberals: This is an oppressed group of people who need our help. Let’s form a political action committee.

    I say: The Bible is clear. We need to treat foreigners and strangers in the land as ourselves. We will give refuge and obey our God. We will witness the gospel to them, as well as everyone else. We have no agenda, no committee, no political allies. We hear God, we see the need, and we meet it. We are aligned with no one.

    If we speak Biblical truth, the Conservatives cannot deny us. And if we meet the needs of our communities, the liberals will see we mean business. If align ourselves with folks who seek political power we forget what we originally sought, to obey God’s will (Even if it’s uncomfortable).

    Money talks. Bullshit walks. I know I see, like you all do, a lot of bullshit.

  8. Tim Baer

    Dear God that’s long.

  9. Lora

    Long, but I understand your point much more clearly, and I appreciate your honesty. I’ll try to reply soon, probably in a new post. Apologies for hijacking your thread, Roxy!

  10. Roxy

    No problem, Lora. Your question to Tim Baer was a good one. It seems it is easier to banter ideologies than to call brainstormers together to activate some positive change, but I do hope there are some like-minded people that believe in the great potential for God to do transformative work through the church at this time. If you enjoy working with positive, driven, like-minded, and liberal people on an issue you care about let me know if you’d like to work with me :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  11. Tim Baer

    Lora & Roxy,

    How do you envision the church using a liberal set of values to empower itself?

  12. Lora

    Tim, that might be a good question for a new post; I couldn’t answer it. When you asked Roxy why she aimed at progressives, I was merely defending her right to do so. Sometimes I think when folks come to YAR they assume a much higher level of uniformity in thought and belief among posters than exists. From who I know in person I’d say if you had to get us all together and all of our ways of being in the world really came out, doing anything together would be a few degrees more difficult than herding cats.

    I don’t find the labels of liberal or conservative any more useful than what you seem to, nor do I find them useful ways to talk about faith or do social change. Usually they’re used more to box and divide, which is a bit how I felt when you posed the question. Honestly, I’m not even sure Roxy would say that the overall goal is empowerment of the Mennonite church–maybe it’s just to afflict the comfortable. I suppose my challenge to everyone would be not to assume labels or define people (or their goals) unless they’ve done so themselves.I do appreciate that you’re trying to understand but at this point that question is yours, not mine.

  13. Tim Baer

    Hey Lora,

    Thank for the honest reply. I must say, on the one hand I am glad that some believe are working for something in which they seem to really believe. Yet, on the other hand I question anything that is done in the church’s name that is not done to empower the church. The religious right has been doing this for years with mixed results. I really fear a liberal blowback, a sort of Liberal-Christian rallying cry that will produce similar fruits.

    If the goal is simply to “afflict the comfortable” I think that, in and of itself, is a poor reason to do anything. It will cause further division within the church.

    It’s nice to be young and idealistic, but when it’s “My way or the highway” a lot of people choose the highway.

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