Two good names

I appreciated “Mennonite or Anabaptist?” (Editorial, March 5). Ever since I attended Goshen College in the late 1970s I have had a preference for “Anabaptist” over “Mennonite” because of the theological focus of the former and the often ethnic (and parochial) focus of the latter. I almost felt like a foreigner when using the Mennonite label. Two years ago I suggested in Mennonite World Review replacing the name “Mennonite Church USA” with “Peace Churches (US).”

But since then I’ve noticed something that has shifted my thinking: It is the most conservative (and theologically evangelical) members of the Mennonite family in the U.S. who are setting aside the name “Mennonite” (sometimes opting for “Anabaptist” instead). As a result, the largest body in the U.S. that continues using the name “Mennonite” is Mennonite Church USA — the most progressive, multicultural, multiracial Anabaptist denomination in the world. Thus, it may soon be the case that “Mennonite” will mean exactly what I have always hoped it would mean: a diverse and inclusive family of faith centered on following Jesus and his way of peacemaking and service. “Mennonite” has the added benefit of tying us to a particular historical story for more stable theological grounding.

“Anabaptist” and “Mennonite” continue to have their own strengths.

Ryan Ahlgrim, Richmond, Va.

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