From ‘Tauferkammer’ to Burkina Faso

Dec 3, 2018 by

In 1743, 275 years ago, the Swiss city of Bern dissolved its Commission for Anabaptist Affairs, or Tauferkammer. It had been established in 1659 to oversee the elimination of the local Anabaptist population....

[read more]

History: At war’s end, a last gasp of violence

Oct 22, 2018 by

One hundred years ago next month, on Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice brought World War I to an end, ceasing the four-year-old conflagration that resulted in 40 million casualties, unprecedented destruction and...

[read more]

History: An evolution from Amish

Sep 8, 2018 by

In the 21st century, “conservative” is wrapped in layers of often-ambiguous political, religious and cultural meanings. That’s a big reason why the Conservative Mennonite Conference this summer decided...

[read more]

History: A grand adventure in Alaska

Jul 30, 2018 by

By the early 1870s, the young General Conference Mennonite Church was earnestly desiring to begin its own mission program. Since its creation in 1860, it had financially supported the Dutch Mennonites’...

[read more]

History: When Mennonites persecuted Mennonites

Jun 18, 2018 by

Since Anabaptism’s birth nearly five centuries ago, adherents have been persecuted for their faith by civil authorities, from Austrian archdukes to American courts to Vietnamese police. For the Mennonite...

[read more]

History: A Beachy Amish dalliance while on the lam

May 7, 2018 by

He arrived in the Beachy Amish community as Bill Sousa, a drifter with an aimless soul. He left as Ernest Collins, a convicted felon who rejected his brief dalliance with Anabaptism. Nearly 40 years later, his...

[read more]

History: How confirmation came to be

Mar 26, 2018 by

Martin Bucer has been called “the father of Protestant confirmation.” That makes the early Anabaptists, particularly Pilgram Marpeck, grandparents of the now-common rite. Bucer was a Catholic monk who was...

[read more]

History: Lancaster chooses its own path

Feb 12, 2018 by

Lancaster Mennonite Conference’s divorce from Mennonite Church USA became official Jan. 1. The separation reflects the tensions that have plagued the denomination since its inception, but it says more about...

[read more]

History: Remembering some anniversaries

Jan 1, 2018 by

As 2017 passes into the annals of history, let’s remember some of the year’s more important and interesting Anabaptist anniversaries. 475 years ago (1542) — Authorities in Leeuwarden, capital of the...

[read more]

History: Alternative history — what if?

Nov 20, 2017 by

What if? It’s one of the great history games, speculating on alternative outcomes if events had happened differently. What if Abraham Lincoln had decided not to go to the theater on April 14, 1865? What if...

[read more]

History: Catalyst of Anabaptist ideas

Oct 9, 2017 by

Five hundred years ago, on Oct. 31, 1517, German monk and theology professor Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church by nailing his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. This simple act ...

[read more]

History: White supremacist’s racist ‘faith’

Aug 28, 2017 by

More than 5,200 miles separate Charlottesville, Va., from the now-disappeared Russian Mennonite col­ony of Molotschna. But according to the geography of racial and ethnic hatred, they’re located virtually...

[read more]

History: Bethlehem ’83: coming together and apart

Jul 17, 2017 by

When the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church met in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1983 for their first joint convention, MC moderator Ross Bender and his GC counterpart, Jacob Tilitzky, placed their...

[read more]

History: The sun, the moon and truth

Jun 5, 2017 by

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” Attributed to Buddha, this was Zaida Catalan’s retweet on March 3, her last. Catalan, a United Nations expert from Sweden, died with...

[read more]

History: An antiwar conspiracy?

Apr 24, 2017 by

The president had squeaked by in the general election. A key plank in his platform had been opposition to foreign military intervention. But in a matter of months after his inauguration, he reversed...

[read more]

History: Confessing a weakness for humor

Mar 13, 2017 by

S.G. (Samuel Grant) Shetler (1871-1942) of Johnstown, Pa., was known for moving his audiences to tears one moment and laughter the next. This was natural, he said, because “the well of tears and the fountain...

[read more]

History: The ‘Anabaptists’ who weren’t

Jan 30, 2017 by

Before the Radical Reformation and before the Protestant Reformation were the Waldensians. While Protestant Christianity celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2017 and Anabaptists prepare to do likewise in eight...

[read more]

History: Stones of remembrance

Dec 19, 2016 by

I had my apple strudel and coffee — not to be missed if you’re visiting Innsbruck, Austria — in a café along Maria Theresa Street. I read again the brass plaque marking the 1536 execution of Jacob...

[read more]

History: Who can get the Amish vote?

Nov 7, 2016 by

Despite a drive to garner Old Order Amish votes this year, historical evidence suggests Donald Trump won’t get them as tries to become the 45th president of the United States. Two Republican operatives...

[read more]

History: No fires, no foes in Münster

Sep 26, 2016 by

It’s 300 steps from the street up the ancient spiral stone stairway to the tower keeper’s room of St. Lambert’s Church in Münster, Germany. The stone steps are worn from centuries-long use by the tower...

[read more]

The CO Mennonites once found objectionable

Aug 15, 2016 by

Nearly 50 years ago, the self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time became the greatest religious conscientious objector to war of all time. Because of his Muslim faith, Muhammad Ali, the talented and...

[read more]

Scandal of nationalism

Jul 4, 2016 by

I remember it well, because the question was transformative. I was a first-year student at Hesston College, in the library studying to teach a lesson on eschatology to a junior high Bible study at Hess­ton...

[read more]

Memorial Day for a martyr

May 23, 2016 by

Jose Chuquin came to faith as a student at a Mennonite school at Cachipay, Colombia. As an adult, that faith became his vocation, serving 11 years as director of the relief agency World Vision’s operations...

[read more]

How I teach history differently

Apr 11, 2016 by

A student wanted to know: Why did I tell such negative stories about this country? Our country does good things, too. The purpose of teaching history, it seemed, was to produce proud, patriotic, unquestioning...

[read more]

The conference that sought its own end

Feb 29, 2016 by

Rare is the organization that exists with an eye to its own termination. Yet that’s a big part of the story of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren, a small but energetic denomination that was “ready to unite...

[read more]