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.
August 15, 2011
Anniversary, Community, Emerging Church, Media, Travel, Young Folks
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crossposted from As of Yet Untitled
This weekend I was at Laurelville Retreat Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., participating in "Renewing the Story: Anabaptism and Mission for Today," a gathering organized by the Anabaptist Missional Project. The Mennonite had an article about this group of young adults a few months ago.
On the first evening of the gathering, founding member Matt Krabill introduced some of the history of the group. They first met together as a group in November 2009 in Harrisonburg, Va.
"We noticed that we were predominantly Anglo, male and seminary students, and that this wasn’t ideal for our goal of being a church in mission and so its something we want to change," said Kraybill, speaking of this first meeting. "We were paralyzed by the fact that we weren’t diverse, but at the same time we didn’t want to not talk."
Anabaptist Missional Project (AMP) has had two regional gatherings since then, as well in Elkhart, Ind., and Lancaster, Pa., respectively. Kraybill also shared a list of issues that have come up through those meetings.
- mass exodus of young adults from rural areas
- widespread nominalism (disaffection and driftedness)
- political polarization
- false dichotomy between peace church and missional church
- waning peace position in some/many churches
- Mennonite identity in light of "newer membership"
July 5, 2011
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This piece is cross-posted from As of Yet Untitled
In this month’s editorial in The Mennonite, editor Everett Thomas quoted Mennonite Church USA executive director Ervin Stutzman as follows:
“The experience of Pink Mennos at Columbus in 2009,” Stutzman said, “introduced a new level of engagement in controversial matters … The techniques of social advocacy and confrontation that we have taught young adults in our schools has come to haunt our church’s most visible gathering, to the end that convention-goers feel immense pressure to take up sides against one another on [homosexuality].”
Mennonite pastor Amy Yoder McGloughlin has already written quite eloquently and diplomatically on how Ervin’s words ignore the real ghosts who haunt the Mennonite convention. So I’d like to focus particularly on Ervin’s use of the term, “haunt,” to refer to the use of social advocacy and confrontation by Pink Mennos. As a Mennonite, I find social advocacy and confrontation at the heart of the gospel and at the roots of my Anabaptist tradition. To suggest that those of us who sought to embody this tradition as Pink Mennos at Colombus were “haunting” the convention is highly problematic.
May 9, 2011
Anabaptism, LGBTQ, Mennonite Church USA, Peace & Peacemaking, Tactics, Young Folks
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I just got back from the satellite Rally to Restory Sanity and/or Fear here in Chicago. I’ve been reading the confused articles leading up to the rally. Is it all about irony? Is it about moderation? Is it about progressive politics? Is this the millennial generation’s Woodstock?
After spending half an hour wondering around the edges of the rally here in Grant Park, it’s clear that those in attendance weren’t sure either. On the stage were Chicago progressive (trying their best to show enthusiasm and commitment to making a difference in challenging Chicago’s corrupt politics) competing with a Chicago comedians making jokes about sandwiches.
Alongside the stage was a muted jumbotron showing Comedy Central’s live coverage of the D.C. rally. The most unifying cry the crowd could get behind while I was there was shouting, “Audio! Audio!” when Jon Stewart came on screen. That’s right: They’d come to stand with thousands of other people in the middle of Grant Park on a beautiful October day so that they could all watch television together. And the funny thing is that they weren’t trying to be ironic.
October 30, 2010
activism, culture, Fun, Group Identity, Polarization, Polemics, Reviews, Young Folks
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Yesterday I was at the dentist‘s and they gave me a toothbrush. Now I hear in the States that‘s not an usual thing, but in Germany it‘s actually really strange and so after the dentist thought she had put her fingers in my mouth long enough and I was allowed to go, I was carrying a toothbrush in the pocket of my jeans and somehow the toothbrush kept coming up in my mind and with it the chorus of a song.
A song my father always sang with us when I was a little boy. It‘s about Martin Luther King Jr. and what he said to kids who also wanted to participate in the demonstrations. He told them they could participate, if they had a toothbrush with them. Because if you get arrested you have to empty your pockets and all is taken away from you. Only your toothbrush you can keep. So keep your toothbrush as a sign of your willingness to go to jail for freedom. The song was written in Eastern Germany and was a famous song amongst Christian youth in the protest movement against the state-socialist regime.
In my head, I heard my eight year old self singing the chorus over and over again, the rough translation would be:”Do you have your toothbrush with you? You will need still need it. Still today people are put in jail who are against oppression.”
I was really amazed by this, on the one hand because I rarely remember anything from my childhood, but on the other hand because of the radical message this song was giving.
It‘s paraphrasing Jesus, “Take your cross upon you and follow me” into words children can understand and that I still remember ten years after I last sang the song…
To me, taking up my cross or carrying my toothbrush around is a daily struggle because although it feels good to be really critical of the state and school and be the radical guy in school who challenges basically every opinion, my radical activity is usually done there (sometimes I also translate stuff for the German CPT branch…). How can I live a life where it makes sense to carry my toothbrush with me all the time, because I challenge the world so much, that it can’t stand me, it wants to put me in prison?
I sometimes lead Sunday school classes in my congregation at home, and I’d love to sing that song with the kids, but I feel like I have to carry my toothbrush with me for some time, till I can do that.
The last line is:”I have my tooth brush with me and I will still need it. Still today people are put in jail who are against oppression.” – this I will try to do…
June 18, 2010
activism, Awesome Stuff, children, Nonviolence, Police Brutality, Young Folks
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Things are picking up over at Feetwashing and Four Square, our sister blog started by Nick Miller Kauffman (nicolas here on YAR). I’d particularly commend to you the recent post Anabaptist Fierce by Katie Shaw Thompson. Here’s an excerpt on the relationship between some theories of nonviolence and white privilege:
Bob cited a weak (or rather antithetical) version of non-violent theory he often hears from seminarians as symptomatic of the problem. Concerning Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount commandment to “love your enemies” these seminarians want to claim that we have no enemies, which as Bob cited is not really nonviolent theory at all.
Only someone at the top of the food chain, with all kinds of privilege, could claim that we have no enemies. (more…)
April 23, 2010
Anabaptism, Nonviolence, Privilege, Race, Young Folks
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Looks like Folknotions paved the way for me on this one. I’d pretty much forgotten about YAR until yesterday TimN sent me a new incoming comment on a post I’d put up well over two years ago.
Like Folknotions, I didn’t leave YAR because I thought YAR was a bad place or because anyone had angered me. Rather…
1. I’m not Mennonite anymore, even though Anabaptism still influences my thinking and theology.
I started attending a Mennonite church with my family when I was 12. I left that church a little over a year ago, at 25, because of some undesirable circumstances that culminated and made clear to me in an instant that it wasn’t the church for me anymore. I haven’t set foot in that building for anything church-y since, and have had only limited contact with its members since. (My family still goes there, though, and I have lots of contact with them.)
When I left initially, I took a few weeks off from faith communities. I decided to check out a United Church of Christ congregation in the small town where I was living at the time. My dad’s side of the family is all UCC, so I felt a little more comfortable checking out a UCC church than the Methodist church next door, to which I had no pre-existing connection. I felt a need to participate in a faith community, but my finances had become such that I needed a church to which I could walk. Since I was planning on moving from that small town, I knew from the start that this congregation would be a transitional church for me.
It was a relatively “safe” place for me to be at that time in my life. I had broken off an engagement to someone I loved very much, and he was still making me miserable through stalking me and some other measures. In contrast to the Mennonite church I’d left, where there was an insanely high percentage of twentysomethings, this UCC church was highly concentrated with people above 70 years of age. It had the “new and different” appeal to me of being a fairly liturgical church and following a more formalized pattern of rituals than the Mennonite congregation. I know it’s backwards to most people for anyone to “discover” liturgy as something “new and different,” but I guess you’ll get that when every church you’ve regularly attended your entire life has eschewed any connection to the lectionary. (more…)
February 26, 2010
Anabaptism, Blog, Church, Community, Goodbye, Group Identity, Meta (YAR), Stories, Tradition, Young Folks
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As part of the conversation that often occurred in response to Mennonites in Northern Ghana, who were asking me “what does it mean to be Mennonite?” I would quote a snippet from Menno’s document. (I mean, only sometimes, when they asked specifically about Simons, because “church founders” are a BIG deal there). But the language was such that I always found myself changing the words. These folks loved Jesus, and they weren’t necessarily asking me about what Jesus had to say about discipleship and prayer, but they wanted to know what Menno had to say. They had only relative familiarity with British English and most are distanced from the written word. I wonder if I translated the following accurately? I wonder if it matters? How would you translate/summarize this part of Menno Simon’s Why I Do Not Cease Teaching and Writing (1539)
“True evangelical faith is of such a nature that it cannot lie dormant, but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it dies unto the flesh and blood; it destroys all forbidden lusts and desires; it seeks and serves and fears God; (more…)
February 15, 2010
Anabaptism, Change, Clothing, communication, Community, culture, Death, Discipleship, Education, Ethics, Evangelism, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Interpretation, Language, liberation theology, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Poetry, Polemics, Politics, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Stewardship, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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This is a invitation to the YAR community from Byron Rempel-Burkholder, and editor at Faith and Life Resources/Mennonite Publishing Network. Feel free to contact Byron directly or leave your response in a comment.
We at Mennonite Publishing Network need your help in creating resources that nurture spirituality among 20- and 30-somethings. Our traditional existing medium is Rejoice! magazine, which offers daily meditations on Bible texts, along with denominational prayer requests. Rejoice! is relatively successful among middle and older adults, but it is attracting only a small segment of younger adults to its readership. (more…)
January 11, 2010
Mennonite Church USA, Young Folks
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Since I last wrote, Allan has provided this info that completes the reporting from the Winnipeg meetings. (Thanks Allan)! A document entitled “Recommendations from September 2009 Inquiry Task Force Meeting” has been posted on MCC’s website that gives further context, and charts a path forward in addressing the concerns that were named. I would encourage each of you to read this.
MCC relates to what you are about as Young Anabaptist Radicals, and this process is significant for MCC and the broader church community.
MCC is a radical organization: it is about living out our basic values as Anabaptist Christians, rooted in the teachings of Jesus, Scripture, and in the Anabaptist church community. It is important for the broader Anabaptist community to be aware of and speak into this New Wine, New Wineskins process that is engaging MCC stakeholders in discerning God’s direction for the organization. This in-depth listening and evaluation has been guided by three core questions: (more…)
September 22, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Change, culture, Current Events, Global Church, MCC, Young Folks
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The “final” meetings of the New Wine/New Wineskins Inquiry Task Force (ITF) committee were last weekend in Winnipeg. I thought some of you may want to know about it. MCC is trying to deepen existing bonds of connection and respond to world in a new way through modification of its vision, mission, priorities, values, and approaches…as well as its structure. The New Wine/New Wineskins process was a broad consultation to help think through how we do this.
A number of church leaders, former MCC directors, and others invested in this process have expressed concerns around:
· the fragmentation of international program into national entities. How can we maintain (and improve) MCC’s ability to carry out its mission if international program is given to national MCCs?
· denominations not having sufficient representation on the governance of the proposed national MCC entities, nor the central entity.
· The fact that MCCBN and MCCC tensions have not been adequately addressed in order to be able to move forward. (more…)
September 17, 2009
Anabaptism, Change, communication, Ethics, Global Church, Leadership, Loyalty, MCC, Wealth, Young Folks
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The Global Anabaptist Wiki is an interactive community of Anabaptist-Mennonite groups from around the world. Initiated by the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College, the site is committed to helping individual groups: 1) tell their own story; 2) post and preserve electronic archives; and 3) become better informed about other groups in the global Anabaptist fellowship. Like all wiki-based projects, this is a collaborative venture that relies on the local expertise of many people.
This project is still in its early stages of construction. John Roth and others led a workshop at Mennonite World Conference Assembly Gathered (Paraguay 2009) about it…listening to perspectives and discerning whether or not it was a good idea. What do you think about the idea? Will you use it as a resource?
I think this is a good idea because everyone around the world can contribute to create collective knowledge. Some of the things written by people in their home churches about themselves may make North Americans (perhaps especially mission agencies) uncomfortable. This could be a good thing for dialogue. Wiki creates a space that is not owned by anyone. Following up on Alan’s initial post, this decentralization of “ownership of the story” could be a healthy thing. Since young people are more tech saavy, it can be a way that we connect to the background stories of our Anabaptist friends from around the world.
If you want to collaborate with the project in a substantial way, (it needs volunteers to help monitor it and encourage posting) feel free to contact John directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 9, 2009
Anabaptism, Change, communication, Education, Global Church, Group Identity, Power, Stories, Technology, Young Folks
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New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009
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…)
June 25, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, children, Church, City, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, Corporations, culture, Current Events, Discipleship, Economics, Education, Emerging Church, End Times, Environment, Ethics, Evangelism, Faith, Family, Food, Foreign Policy, Fun, Gender, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Healthcare, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Leadership, liberation theology, Love, Loyalty, Mental health, Music, New Monasticism, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Polarization, Police, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Roman Catholic, Science, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, submergent, Technology, Television, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Travel, Urban Ministry, war, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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Let me preface this post by saying I am not a historian, a scientist, or theologian. I have only my own experience to lean on. My prayer is that I can speak from a place of humility on a sensitive subject; a divisive subject that I nearly lost my faith over.
June 4, 2009
Faith, God, Science, The Bible, Young Folks
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So I am really in love for the first time in a while. He’s a radical activist. He’s Mennonite. He’s brilliant. He would probably read and write on this blog if he was from the USA. But there is a big problem, he smokes tobacco (a lot). Or is that not a problem? I need your help, my radical friends…to help me think through the issues of smoking and tobacco usage. I can only really take love advice seriously from people who are in the movement for positive social change…people who understand a deep commitment to values that call us to put our “personal” love lives in perspective with the greater struggle of promotion of love and justice all over the world. I listen to others who I feel are be people of integrity on all levels of life.
What follows is what I think about smoking/what I’m struggling with/the questions I have. Please, if you have any wisdom to share…SHARE IT. As a feminist I am willing to put this out in the public because I do believe the personal is political. And I know that the relationships that individuals have also effect the collective.
I realized again that I’m a “God-geek” when I wanted to know something marriage a few weeks ago and so I looked at C. Arnold Snyder’s chapter titled “Anabaptist Marriage” in Anabaptist History and Theology textbook. My point was to see how these young activists handled marriage in the context of an intense social movement. (more…)
May 15, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Change, Civilization, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, culture, Death, Discipleship, Ethics, Faith, Family, Gender, Mental health, Nonviolence, Palestine, Polemics, Power, Prayer, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Young Folks
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