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Archive for the ‘random musings’ Category

Reading old Newspapers can often be an exciting experience.  Especially in small town newspapers many editors were quite blunt and do the point.  Sometimes this makes for rather humorous descriptions of the rough and tumble life of early white frontier settlers.  Other times, their bluntness cut straight to the heart of an issue, convicting not only the readers of old but those who still gaze upon the articles today.  Recently I found such an article.

On May 18, 1888 the Harper Daily Sentinel in Harper, Ks published an op-ed piece about one of the Asian workmen who had left Harper to go back home.  While the wording grates on modern sensibilities, especially in the final sentence, the point comes across loud and clear.

1888 also happened to be the year that our church, Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church, was formed.  While I would say that the Mennonites have had some significant positive impact on our community, it is also still unfortunate that this article is just as applicable to our community as it was 125 years ago.  While the ethnic group in question has changed overtime, the core response of Christians those in our community who are “different” than we are seems to have changed very little.

For that matter it seems as though this article could also be written about our entire denomination.  Yes, there is a sweeping change in our understanding of what mission work is and where it happens, but that change has yet to permeate every person in our pews.  Perhaps the bright spot is that things really are shifting.  With the help of people like Alan and Eleanor Kreider we are re-thinking mission in a post-Christendom world.  We are changing the question from “How do we take Jesus to ‘those’ people over there” to “Where is God at work in this world and how can we get involved with that”.

I will continue to hold on to hope that things are changing.  In the mean time, however, articles like this continue to convict me that things have not changed enough and that there is still a lot of work to be done.

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Fair warning:

Severe pessimism ahead.

In my more pessimistic moments in the last few years I have made the comment that the existence of MCUSA over the next 10 years is not a certainty to me.  It is well within the realm of conceivability that the denomination could fall apart.

Now I have something of a road map for what that could look like, and it starts in my back yard.

To begin the progression, you have to go back a couple of years.

1) 2010- Joanna Harader, pastor at Peace Mennonite in Lawrence, Ks, performs a same sex union ceremony.

2) 2011- In may, according to the agreement set out at the founding of MCUSA, Western District Conference Leadership Commission (the credentialing committee) reviews her credentials and finds them to be “in order”.  This is the first time in the denomination that a pastor has preformed a same sex union and has not been disciplined.

3) 2011- This upsets the conservative end of WDC and at the annual meeting of WDC in July they try to have the actions of the Leadership Commission overturned.  This motion is voted down because delegates a motion of this magnitude needs to be carefully considered by the whole constituency.

4) 2011-2012- over the next year the conservative churches get organized and bring several resolutions to be voted on at the July gathering.

As of this post, these are the current events.  From here on is my speculation.

5) 2012- The two motions are brought forth to the delegate body and both are defeated because a majority of congregations either a) agree with the original decision or b) do not see this as a big enough problem to overturn the authority structure of the conference.

6) 2012-2013 –  most of the Oklahoma churches leave not only WDC but also MCUSA.  Maybe one or two join South Central Conference, but most likely none will.

7) 2012-2013 – WDC is now out of step with the rest of MCUSA leading to two implications:

7.a) The MCUSA denominational leadership will begin to deal with the implications for church polity.  Specifically, how do pastoral credentials transfer from conference to conference when the conferences are at odds over credentialing standards?

7.b) There will be a congregational level backlash throughout the denomination.  There will be several churches that simply leave the denomination altogether, but most will wait for the denomination to respond to WDC with some sort of disciplinary action.

8) Most likely MCUSA leadership will not take a major disciplinary action towards WDC because a) it is one thing to remove a church, but removing a whole conference is a matter that they will defer to the delegate body and b) even if they wanted to, the polity structure isn’t really set up for that.

9) 2013- MCUSA gathers in July in Phoenix, AR.  Numerous resolutions and motions are brought to the floor (in spite of there still being no official resolutions allowed) calling for WDC to be sanctioned or removed from the denomination outright.

10.a) If there is no official action taken by MCUSA, many individual congregations will leave the denomination as well as several whole conferences (most likely led by Lancaster).

10.b) If there is an official action taken by MCUSA there will probably be an exodus of the more liberal churches, but more concerning there will probably be a mass exodus of individual young adults for whom this will be the final straw.

11) Either way, however, there will be a mass exodus of young adults for whom this is not a central issue (or they are in support of Gay rights) and who are tired of fighting about this issue.  This exodus is primarily facilitated by the fact that when this fight comes before the MCUSA delegate body, it will be an ugly, nasty, and hateful fight.

Other possible implications from this course

1) A new conservative Anabaptist denomination takes shape made up of the conservative churches and conferences that leave in the near future as well as those who have left in the past.

2) A new liberal Anabaptist denomination, or potentially a rather simple network of independent churches, takes shape.

3) Young adults leave Anabaptism for other denominations.

4) Young adults leave the faith altogether.

Best case scenario: 1/3 of the churches in MCUSA leave by 2015.

Worst case scenarios: MCUSA splits along several different factions and, combined with severe disillusionment, there is no denomination in 2015.

I genuinely hope that neither of these things happen.  I genuinely hope that the spirit of love and unity in the name of Christ prevails.  But in order for that to happen it is going to take some pretty amazing leadership.  What’s more, it’s going to take the entire denomination embracing a spirit of humility that, quite frankly, I’m not sure we’re capable of.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is putting out a campaign called “Fear Not, Seek Peace”.  As part of that campaign there’s a learning tool to help people understand how much we actually spend on our military compared to what most of us think the government actually does.

I’ve adapted some of this information using something called Prezi.

Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t really allow for flash animation to be embeded right here in this post, so you’re going to have to actually click through on the link.

http://prezi.com/udui-qvhbeln/follow-the-money/

Enjoy.

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Today Congressman Bobby Rush was removed from the floor of the house for wearing a hoodie (hooded sweatshirt) in support of Trayvon Martin, the young black man who was gunned down by George Zimmerman. (video below)

What’s made the news is mainly his being removed, but I don’t actually think that’s the most important part of this.  I’m most drawn to the fact that as he was being removed he was quoting scripture as he was doing it.  Specifically he was quoting two core Biblical texts on justice.

Micah 6:8 ” He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.”

Luke 4:18-19 “18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As a pastor this wanted me to stand up and cheer because, finally, someone is actually quoting scripture in the way that it was meant to be quoted.  Yes, I do think that a massive injustice is/was being done to Trayvon and yes, race plays a factor (but not the only factor) in this situation.  It has exposed some deep systemic problems in our culture, problems that result in peoples deaths.

This is bigger than Trayvon’s death.

This matters.

Pay attention.

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It’s been a while

Hey everyone.  I just wanted add a post to let you all know that, for the record, I have not abandoned this blog.  My brainpower and energy have just been consumed to an abnormally high degree for a while.  I’ll be back around.

alan

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Our church has been involved in a partnership with Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Bolivana (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Bolivia).  One of the projects that they have started, and that we have helped support, is a daycare outreach project in Santa Cruz.  The daycare is called La Guarderia Samuelito (The Little Samuel Daycare).

Currently one of our young adults is doing some voluntary service work at the daycare.  Among other things, he’s been working on some videos to help people get to know the kids, as well as a blog highlighting several kids each week.

The videos are below and the blog is www.caresupportandlove.blogspot.com

If you’ve got interest in making a donation or sponsoring a kid, you can get in contact with our church office 620-896-2004.

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Two things that seemed worthy of sharing.  First is the MCC Penny game about the National Budget, and the second is a video from Sojourners.

http://mcc.fhdlabs.com/

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