I’ve been a Mennonite for nearly 8 years. I’ve felt welcomed in local congregations and regional assemblies and national conventions. I have enjoyed everything about our denomination–even the quirkiness. But I also can’t help but notice that there are lots of faithful people who have been Mennonite for a lot longer than I have been who are asking tough questions about denominational structures (both physical structures like a new office building, and institutional structures like the merger of various board agencies).
After reading Wipf & Stock’s wonderful collection of republished Concern pamphlets, I can’t help but notice similarities between Mennonite discourse in the 1950s and today. Here’s a passage from the introduction of the 1954 Concern pamphlet:
Are American Mennonites, in spite of their great institutional and even spiritual progress, perhaps after all moving rather toward ‘respectable’ denominationalism rather than toward a dynamic and prophetic ‘grass roots’ movement? And if so, what responsibility devolves upon us in our generation? (Concern, vol. 1, p. 3)
What do you think? Is this the same sort of question that needs to be asked?
I also beginning to wonder if this is a perennial Mennonite concern. Paul Peachey and his friends asked it back then, and plenty of others are asking it again today.
While the Concern group of the 1950s offered important criticisms of their denomination, I am also struck by one of quotes at the beginning of their first pamphlet–an epigraph that offers a kind of framework for their essays:
…send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may rebuild it. (Neh 2:5)