U.S. MBs submit letter to national service commission

Dec 9, 2019 by

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The U.S. Conferences of Mennonite Brethren Churches submitted a letter on Nov. 8 to the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, affirming “many of the convictions” that other Anabaptist groups stated in a joint letter in September.

USMB had chosen not to attend a gathering of 13 Anabaptist groups convened by Mennonite Central Committee on June 4.

The USMB letter, signed by three national leaders, says it is “uniquely our response.” One difference from the joint letter is its emphasis that not all its members oppose military service.

It says followers of Jesus are called to wage not a physical war but “a spiritual war against the powers and principalities of this world that seek to destroy the image of God in the human soul.”

Many MBs, it says, would find it “impossibly repulsive” to kill, because the one who is killed would either be a fellow Christian or a someone whose death would end the opportunity for salvation.

The USMB letter includes the same points as the other groups’ letter, including opposition to a “universal obligation” to serve in the military, a request that alternative service options be maintained for conscientious objectors, that women not be required for register with Selective Service and concern that the commission is conflating service to the community with military service.

It states that MBs have historically not served as combatants, but “some Mennonites believe that certain carefully considered applications of violence are justified when they work redemptively to bring peace.”

“Our denomination does not claim that all its members reach the same conclusion on the exact implications of our commitment to peacemaking, in response to the mandate Jesus gave us,” states the letter. “We ask our churches to teach and encourage our members to engage in careful, discerning and prayerful examination of the various Christian options.”

The letter is signed by Don Morris, USMB national director; David Hardt of the Leadership Board and Tim Sullivan of the Board of Faith and Life.

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