2014 was a year of testing for my congregation, for Lancaster Mennonite Conference and for Mennonite Church USA. Beginning the new year on a clean page, our faithful redeemer God offers us hope for the journey. Recently I read Alfred Neufeld’s What We Believe Together. I am grateful to belong to a church that holds to the “shared convictions” that Neufeld explores. Mennonite World Conference embodies many diverse Anabaptist-related church bodies. Within these communions — polity differences notwithstanding — these core beliefs bind us together. No one would deny that our nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, traditions and tribal peculiarities create conflict and discomfort. Do we therefore separate? Or can we say with Paul in Romans 8 that neither cultural differences nor scriptural interpretations nor regional traditions will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord? If congregations or conferences withdraw from MC USA, will we also turn away from MWC? More important, will such action promote our fulfilling the Great Commission? What We Believe Together summarizes a core of beliefs that followers of Jesus can rally around. I find this hopeful for my congregation, for Lancaster Conference and for MC USA.
Charles B. Longenecker