This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Revisiting a North American Anabaptist-Mennonite Alliance

Dr. Myron S. Augsburger is President and Professor emeritus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Persons continue to revisit my earlier proposal for an alliance that would give a more united witness to the Anabaptist Free Church perspective on Kingdom priorities. The interest is in the idea of a united witness while respecting differences between our numerous groups.

This is a dynamic present in Mennonite Central Committee and our Mennonite World Conference, even with the various ways in which the groups of Mennonites in North America identify themselves.

An alliance can be an association of mutual faith and mission without organizational control. Such an alliance would have the values of tying practice to profession of our oneness in Christ, our commitment to the priority of the Kingdom of God in life practice, and enhance conversation that will bridge our groups, and also bridge generations, in participation.

Why an Alliance?

  • It would enhance conversation without pressure for conformity.
  • It would give a more united expression to other religious groups as to who we are.
  • It would enrich our various programs by exercises of co-operation.
  • It would express a more singular image of Anabaptist faith to the larger world.
  • It would be more readily understood by persons of other religions.
  • It would enrich the whole by the various expressions each group has proven of value.
  • It would move our focus to mission rather than preservation.

Above all, the Church is the body of Christ, and if we are the hand reaching out to help more than the mouth declaring a message, let us do this in love which opens us to persons beyond ourselves. With our faith tradition, which has over 500 years of testing, it is important that we relate this faith to our times as honestly as our forefathers sought to do in the 16th century.

Once again, I appeal for dialogue on this issue, envisioning a church for the next period of history that will engage the next generation as creatively as we seek to do in the missional and educational patterns which call our youth into Christian vocation.

I do not mean to threaten those in office in our various programs, but there is more to service than holding a position from which one receives support. We are called to serve to enrich those we serve, and to do this in the name of Jesus, the one who calls us into his body.

This “Opinions” section of our website provides a forum for the voices within Mennonite Church USA and related Anabaptist-Mennonite voices. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the official positions of The Mennonite, the board for The Mennonite, Inc., or Mennonite Church USA.

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