ROSEDALE, Ohio — While writing the history of the Conservative Mennonite Conference, Nathan E. Yoder paid particular attention to the term “conservative.”
Conversations across the Mennonite family, he said, “have loaded a lot of rhetorical freight on labels such as ‘conservative’ and ‘evangelical.’ ”
He hopes his history of a group with “conservative” in its name can contribute to current discussion and discernment.
He tried to engage self-identified conservatives and people who are “inclined to hold conservatives at arm’s length.” If the book can help both groups “understand this heritage,” he will be gratified.
The book, Together in the Work of the Lord: A History of the Conservative Mennonite Conference, will come out in July, launched with a book signing party at CMC’s annual conference July 31-Aug. 3 at Naumburg Mennonite Church in Castorland, N.Y.
Commissioned by the CMC Historical Committee, Together in the Work of the Lord has been more than eight years in the making. Herald Press is releasing the book as part of its Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History series.
Rosedale Bible College interim president Jon Showalter, a member of the CMC editorial committee that worked on the book, called Yoder a natural choice for the project, combining “strong CMC connections” with professional training and experience as a historian.
Yoder is the son of CMC pastor and bishop Paul H. Yoder and the late Marie Yoder. He is professor of church history at Eastern Mennonite Seminary and archivist for Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.
An unexpected benefit of the project emerged as Yoder’s adult sons, Paul and Evan, joined him on forays into libraries and archives and became his favorite research assistants.
Organized in 1910, the CMC has Amish Mennonite roots and was known as the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference until 1954. Today it has more than 11,000 members, with 110 congregations in 24 states.