Drinking coffee with Canada’s National Mennonite Historical Society

Dec 3, 2018 by

Over the Nov. 15-17 weekend, I listened to no less than 30 academic presentations in a space of 2.5 days as Canada’s National Mennonite Historical Society hosted scholars and speakers for the annual...

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The cross or the flag?

Dec 3, 2018 by

Do evangelical Christians want to move the needle of government to the point where the cross and the flag are synonymous? The U.S. Constitution promises justice and democracy for all, which on paper looks like...

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Discovered documents detail French Nazi resistance

Dec 3, 2018 by and

More than seven decades after World War II ended, revelations about Mennonites and the war continue coming to light. Stéphane Zehr of Anduze, France, presented research about French Mennonite resistance to...

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Some other ways to talk about Indians this Thanksgiving

Nov 19, 2018 by

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. How do you talk about it with your children? Many of us learned a story about Pilgrims and Indians sharing a happy meal of New World foods — turkey and cranberries and...

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Our troubling Mennonite inferiority complex

Nov 16, 2018 by

“Many American Christians simply assume that the state has no business dictating church beliefs or practices, that a church should be a gathered body of believers rather than a net that that scoops up...

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“Djagalah Anak Kambing Koe” (“Tend My Lambs”)

Nov 12, 2018 by and

Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events organized by Mennonite World Conference’s Faith and Life Commission to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series...

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Hutterite heirloom seeds – A harvest of memories

Nov 7, 2018 by

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” (Gen. 8:22). On a Hutterite colony, typically one couple is in charge of the vegetable...

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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...

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Reflections on Ukraine: Can it happen again?

Oct 17, 2018 by

Women in Odessa, Kherson, Zaporozhe, Dnipro and Kiev adorn themselves in the colors and fragrances of happy gardens that belie Ukraine’s brutal history. Men without shirts in the villages of what had been...

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A civil rights reunion

Oct 10, 2018 by

While on the faculty of Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., J. Lawrence Burkholder participated in an integration effort on March 31, 1964, in Saint Augustine, Fla., which made headlines in newspapers...

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Swiss project highlights reconciliation in Bern

Oct 8, 2018 by and

A decade ago in Switzerland, a process of reconciliation emerged among Anabaptists and contemporary representatives of the government that oppressed them during the Reformation. To make that reconciliation...

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Mennonites and empire

Sep 26, 2018 by

Every Mennonite in the small town of Goessel, Kan., knows the date 1874. It is emblazoned on the “Turkey Red Wheat Palace,” erected on the centennial of Mennonites’ migration to the Great Plains from...

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Opinion: Late for the 500th birthday party

Sep 24, 2018 by

A new direction and a different interpretation are mother’s milk to the historian. At times this is helpful. At other times, not so much. Anabaptism, defined from its inception by its enemies, more recently...

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Curiosity about Anabaptists creates teachable moments

Sep 17, 2018 by and

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — People who come to northern Indiana with curiosity about the Amish and Mennonites often find their way to an Amish-country attraction that teaches them about Anabaptism. About 260 people...

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Our hymns shape our church

Aug 27, 2018 by

“Out of the fullness of the heart, the language of each mortal springs. If you would truly know a man, just listen to the songs he sings.” — Amish hymn writer John Paul Raber, Songs from Within...

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What do historians look like?

Jul 30, 2018 by

The first time I submitted a piece of scholarship for consideration to an academic journal — at age 21 and having just earned B.A. in history — a rejection letter came in quick response. Why? Because I...

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Anabaptism’s 500th anniversary is 2025, not 2027

Jun 19, 2018 by

At times of historical celebration, there is often debate as to the veracity of classical interpretations of a movement’s beginnings. Such a debate is with us again, as we begin to commemorate the...

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Statue to honor martyr

Jun 18, 2018 by and

STEINBACH, Man. — Manitoba sculptor Peter Sawatzky has been commissioned to create a bronze statue of martyred Anabaptist Dirk Willems. Based on an engraving of Willems by Jan Luyken in Martyrs Mirror, the...

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Group seeks forgiveness for trauma of Münster

Jun 11, 2018 by , and

MÜNSTER, Germany — An unprecedented time of forgiveness came in May to the site of a notorious and violent Anabaptist uprising. A litany of healing and exchanges of understanding were part of a national...

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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...

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No guarantees for this life

Mar 5, 2018 by

God doesn’t promise that if we obey him we will have an awesome life. Nor a decent life. Or even life itself. Anneken Jans was a young heiress who chose to be baptized as an adult, an illegal practice in the...

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Shaped by persecution

Jan 29, 2018 by

As part of a privileged Christian majority, do Mennonites in North America still carry remnants of their martyr past? For centuries, persecution shaped the character of Mennonite communities. Early Anabaptists...

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Account of an Anabaptist immigrant

Jan 10, 2018 by

My name is Henry Clemmer. I was Henrich (or Heinrich) until I immigrated to an English-speaking colony in Pennsylvania. My last name also has many variations in Switzerland from where my family originates:...

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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...

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Former prison becomes Swiss Mennonite couple’s home

Dec 11, 2017 by and

Spears to pruning hooks. Swords to plowshares. And since April 1, Anabaptist prison to cozy apartment. Already a tourist hotspot for Mennonites, portions of Trachselwald Castle could even become an...

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