Guides from the past

Jun 22, 2015 by

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In the 1940s the “Old” Mennonite Church stood at an impasse. Illinois Conference was accused, among other things, of violating a dress code and was threatened with expulsion. A special session of the church’s biennial conference was called to deal with the matter. At a critical point, S.C. Yoder said the source of the dispute was a lack of trust and respect. Reduced to silence by his words, the factions checked the log in their own eyes, confessed to each other, and harmony was restored the next day.

Fast forward a half-century. Germantown gets no respect and is kicked out of Franconia Conference. On the other hand, Clinton Frame doesn’t respect the diversity of Indiana-Michigan Conference and excommunicates itself. The resolution of a conflict many years ago that was facilitated by Yoder is seen as commendable now, while regrets about what happened to Germantown are already being expressed, including last month in the pages of MWR.

If the words of a church leader in the ’40s or a later experience in eastern Pennsylvania are insufficient guides for the present, those interested in splitting could consult Matt. 13:30: Let the wheat and the weeds both grow together. Or Matt. 7:1: Do not judge others.

Paul Hershberger
Goshen, Ind.

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