A word with many meanings

The use of “Mennonite” in church names is an issue I’ve thought about for many years (“Is ‘Mennonite’ a barrier or a conversation starter?,” articles by Brad Roth and Ron Adams, May 6). On one hand, “Mennonite” brings up thoughts of culture — in my case, Low German and associated ethnic foods. For some, “Mennonite” brings up images of people who dress differently and don’t use modern conveniences. This side of being Mennonite, while important to me, has nothing to do with being a Christian and may be off-putting to some. On the other hand, to me, “Mennonite” means a belief in obeying Christ: loving others, including one’s enemies; working for peace and justice; alleviating suffering; being a servant. Will churches that drop “Mennonite” still teach and practice these attributes five or six years later, or will they simply become another community church with a strong belief in a personal Christ but little regard for their neighbor, much less their enemy? Will they still bring the Anabaptist vision to their community?

Robert R. Unrau, Boise, Idaho

 

I commend Brad Roth for interviewing pastors of churches that dropped the Mennonite name. His exploration would have been strengthened if he had also interviewed pastors of churches that considered dropping the name but chose not to. There may be situations where the Mennonite name is a barrier and dropping it makes sense. But only interviewing pastors from churches that have done so makes for an unrepresentative sample.

Stan Senner, Missoula, Mont.

 

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