Publishers’ proposal

Merger plan fits MWR's identity as beacon of unity

Apr 23, 2018 by

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Almost 100 years ago, the founders of Mennonite World Review took a bold step into the future. Three years after starting the German-language Der Herold, editor H.P. Krehbiel recognized the need for an English periodical. In 1923, Mennonite Weekly Review was born.

It was a forward-looking move that anticipated readers’ changing needs. Over the decades, MWR editors took many more steps into unknown futures, including the 2012 shift to a biweekly schedule and a new name.

At each step along the way, readers of MWR supported these new ventures. The result has been a newspaper that has presented an inclusive vision of Mennonites and global Anabaptism for 95 years.

Today, we and our friends at The Mennonite Inc. are exploring another step of faith — and asking for your support if it comes to pass. We are proposing to create a new, independent, inter-Mennonite media organization by merging Mennonite World Review Inc. and The Mennonite Inc. This includes a recommendation to merge the publications, MWR and The Mennonite, by 2020 to create a new, stronger and more vital witness to our Anabaptist faith.

The final decision-makers are the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and the 150 members of the MWR corporation. Both will be asked to approve the plan this year.

You can read the details of the merger exploration here. Decisions about the name, format and frequency in print of a new publication are still to come. But an essential part of the vision is certain: If approved, the new organization, like MWR today, will produce independent, inter-Mennonite journalism to inform and connect the global Anabaptist movement.

MWR was founded on an inclusive vision of the Mennonite family of faith. It became a beacon of Mennonite unity — and chronicled the warming of relationships that culminated in a denominational merger.

Today, the integrating impulses that produced a union of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church have given way to new alliances. An inclusive vision for Anabaptist publishing may be as idealistic today as it was in 1923 when a newspaper for all Mennonites first rolled off H.P. Kreh­biel’s press. Yet a dream is emerging for an Anabaptist “flagship” publication that members of MC USA, the Mennonite Brethren, Lancas­ter Mennonite Conference and others can call their own.

Those who ran Krehbiel’s print shop couldn’t have imagined that they were producing what would one day be known as “legacy media” — and that technological change as revolutionary as Gutenberg’s movable-type press would jeopardize its existence.

Based on current financial trends, two separate publishing ventures will have trouble surviving beyond the 2020s without creative action, sooner better than later. Board members and staff of MWR Inc. and The Mennonite Inc. believe preserving vibrant Mennonite journalism for future generations requires combining resources while the organizations are still relatively strong.

MWR was born as a witness for Mennonite unity. Loyal readers have sustained it as a beacon of that inclusive vision. Now we propose a new era of collaborative ministry and leadership in global Anabaptism.

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