History, mission go arm in arm to tell global story
AMBS, MWC celebrate books by writers from five continentsBy Phyllis Pellman Good For Mennonite World Conference and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
ELKHART, Ind. — A new Mennonite narrative has been created.
A series of five history books, to be completed in 2012, offers new ways to think about the Anabaptist movement worldwide, said John A. Lapp, co-editor of the series, at a conference Oct. 27-29 at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
“These books accent survival rather than triumph,” Lapp said. “They give a more diversified accounting of who we are as a church than we’ve ever had before.”
The conference, “Mirror on the Globalization of Mennonite Witness,” brought together mission thinkers and historians from the global South, Europe and North America to explore themes of the Global Mennonite History Series, a project of Mennonite World Conference.
Participants discussed how awareness of history can inform mission planning and action. They examined how Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches have emerged and flourished or faced challenges.
The event was prompted by two occurrences: the release of Churches Engage Asian Traditions, Volume 4 in the Global Mennonite History Series; and the Shenk Mission Lectureship, held biennially at AMBS to explore themes, strategies and activities in mission.
MWC and AMBS each brought their strengths to the event. MWC provided a neutral space for conversation and questions. The seminary gave its campus and members of its faculty, including former professor Wilbert Shenk, who convened the 1995 consultation at AMBS out of which the Global Mennonite History Series grew.
The conference program was developed by Lapp and Walter Sawatsky, professor of church history and mission at AMBS and director of the seminary’s Mission Studies Center.
More than 170 participants included missiologists and historians, some of the writers and editors of the five volumes of the global history series, doctoral students in mission and history, and seminary students, professors and administrators.
Jaime Prieto of Costa Rica, writer of Mission and Migration, the Latin America volume, brought themes of history and mission together in his address.
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