Changed for the better

I was “born” a Mennonite and happy to be one. But I was also born curious. When I asked spiritual questions, I was told doubt was sinful. Goshen College gave me a degree in English literature. I taught in college, and we attended a Mennonite church 50 miles from our home. The pastor was threatened by my questioning in adult Sunday school. We were granted an offer to work on my doctorate for a year. On the week of our leaving for Washington State, we went to church to say goodbye. After the service the pastor gave me an envelope. When we got home, I read that he had excommunicated our family. I called his home but got no answer. We left for Washington State the next day, had a great year and came back to Minnesota. I got my Ph.D. and began 30 years of teaching at Minnesota State University. Retired. Got a call from Maynard Knepp of Mennonite Central Committee Central States. He asked me to come to Kansas to help him for a year. One reason I said yes was that I was curious. After decades of excommunication, I wondered if they still had separate seating for men and women, if women could vote in church, if sermons still fa-vored a fearful God over a God who is love.

I was in for a shock! I learned that women were lead pastors. I joined a men’s discussion group where everybody discussed “hot” questions. Preachers never scolded but “walked with” parishioners. Lawn signs welcomed Spanish immigrants. It was a very different world of Mennonites from what I grew up in.

One question from a questioner who can’t stop asking: Do you give membership to people who go to war to kill?

Jacob (Jack) Neufeld, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!