An independent magazine for all Anabaptists

What do we mean by Anabaptist World? “That’s an audacious name,” someone said. She was right.

Paul Schrag sitting at his desk typing on his laptop.
Paul Schrag

Really, all of Anabaptism? The whole world?

Here’s what we mean (and don’t mean) by our title — and by “Mennonite news, inspiring stories.”

We don’t mean we’ll cover all Ana­baptists equally. You won’t read about the Amish in every issue. Or the Hutterites. Or the Brethren in Christ, or Biblical Mennonite Alliance, or Anabaptists in Portugal or Japan. But sometimes you will.

Our field of interest encompasses the entire Anabaptist world. That includes anyone with an affinity for Anabaptism — a Christ-centered, nonviolent, community-minded, Scripture-guided, believer-baptizing brand of Christianity with roots in the Radical Reformation — whether or not they’re part of an Anabaptist church.

Because Anabaptism is not a church. It is a way of believing and living. It is a movement of people following Christ.

On these pages you’ll read more about Mennonites than any other kind of Anabaptist. That is the reason we put “Mennonite news” on the cover. And you’ll read more about Mennonite Church USA than any other Mennonite church. That’s because part of our mandate is to continue the mission of The Mennonite — to serve the members of MC USA.

And, because part of our mandate is to continue the mission of Mennonite World Review — to connect the splintered branches of Mennonites — you’ll read about LMC, Mennonite Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada and other North American conferences. And Anabaptists around the world.

As an independent ministry, Anabaptist World belongs to the people, not any denomination. Yet it embraces all Anabaptist churches in a spirit of good will. Anabaptist institutions do many good things, and we won’t hesitate to tell those stories. We’ll lead cheers, because we believe in the mission of the church. But we’ll report the bad news too and offer criticism when we think it’s necessary. A publication that doesn’t report the bad news loses credibility to report the good.

Which brings us to the “inspiring stories” part. Really, all of Anabaptist World is supposed to be inspiring?

No, it isn’t. Nor should it be. Is all of the Bible inspiring? Some of it is convicting and unsettling.

So too with Anabaptist World. It’s been said a journalist’s task is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Scripture does that, and an independent church press should make room for the Jeremiahs of our day.

The problem is, a modern prophet might be wrong. But who says so? Editing is an imprecise task. I’ll admit that the writers I enjoy most are the ones who confirm what I already believe. But that doesn’t exempt me from needing to listen to those who see things differently.

Anabaptist World is a place to air ­diverse views in a respectful and charitable spirit — seeking God’s will together, not attacking and tearing each other down.

Perhaps there are many ways, un­expected ways, to be inspired. Can controversy be inspirational? When an article makes us think, is that a form of inspiration? A news story might prompt a prayer of thanks or a decision to support a cause.

Learning what God’s people are doing can spur us on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24, NIV). Anabaptist World gives priority to news for this very reason.

Although I love history, until a few weeks ago I had not given much thought to John F. Funk, the leading Mennonite publisher of the 19th century. But now I have the privilege of editing a publication that is a descendant of Funk’s Herald of Truth (see pages 8-12 for the story of Anabaptist World’s ancestry).

Here I am indebted — oh, how I am indebted to the editors of the past! — to Gospel Herald editor Daniel Hertzler, who in a 1976 editorial noted “how little difference there is between Funk’s purpose and what we try to do today.”

Hertzler quoted from the first issue of Herald of Truth in 1864. Funk declared his intent to publish a paper “speaking words of hope and encouragement, which will bear in its bosom a record of matters of interest transpiring among our own people and within our own church; which will . . . bring our hearts into sympathy and our feelings into union with such as we might perhaps otherwise never know. . . .

“By availing ourselves of such a means to give our views and receive others, we may lay aside differences and become ‘one mind with our brethren, in Christ Jesus.’ ”

Hertzler added: “The wording is quaint, but the purpose is foundational.” We couldn’t agree more.

Like the evangelist Luke, we hope to set down an orderly account. We pray that it will inform and even inspire.

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