I'm not truly Mennonite?By Hugo Saucedo
I don’t normally hear, “Why are you Mennonite?” I usually hear, “Are you Mennonite?”
This is an annoying question.
Not because I do not identify with the Mennonite faith. On the contrary, it is because I do identify with the Mennonite faith that I am annoyed.
It is through the Mennonite faith that I learned I must not only teach the gospel, I must live it. Emphasizing peace and justice were radical notions to me.
However, being accepted as truly being Mennonite is a constant struggle. I do not have the advantage of having a Mennonite-sounding surname. I do not have a drop of Swiss, German or Russian blood in my veins.
For me — and many like me who have chosen to be identified as Mennonite and who do not have the traditional lineage — full acceptance into the Mennonite church can be a challenge.
I have traveled around the United States visiting Mennonite congregations, attending leadership conferences and area conference events for over a decade, all the while representing Mennonite-related agencies. Inevitably I get the question. “So, are you Mennonite?”
I tell people I may not be a Miller, but I did marry one. I even speak in acronyms, like MMN and MVS. Despite all of my efforts, I am still asked if I am Mennonite.
My Anglo counterparts never get this question, even though they may not have grown up Mennonite, like I did.
I am concerned. It is becoming obvious to me that to be Mennonite is more of an ethnic and cultural identity than a choice. If this is the case, then I will never be Mennonite, even if I am married to a Miller. The lack of a proper surname or any European lineage rules me out.
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