Being Anabaptist at a seminary that’s not
Students discuss faith, misconceptionsBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review
From sixth grade through college, Krista Showalter Ehst attended Mennonite schools, which partly led to her decision to attend a non-Mennonite seminary.
A six-month experience working in an ecumenical setting with the U.K. Anabaptist Network also influenced her application to Atlanta’s Emory University, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
“In the U.K., it was so helpful for me to talk about Anabaptist and Mennonite identity with folks who had such little exposure to the Mennonite church,” she said. “I learned a lot from observing the ways Anabaptist values were being put into practice in a non-Mennonite context.
“I was also surprised to realize that the questions people had for me about my Anabaptist-Mennonite faith, experience and convictions actually deepened those commitments.”
Ehst is now experiencing a similar phenomenon at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, where she will graduate in May with a master of divinity degree.
“There are times that professors ask me to speak from a Mennonite perspective, which is a bit daunting,” she said.
The most common response Ehst gets when people learn she’s Mennonite: “Oh, you’re Mennonite? I love Mennonites.”
Students and professors sometimes romanticize Anabaptism, she said, but they also have a genuine desire to learn about it.
“Many are interested in the ways that distinctive communities have formed around the Anabaptist tradition,” she said.
People at Candler are drawn to Mennonites’ peace witness, Mennonite resources on conflict mediation and reconciliation, and practices such as adult baptism, communion and lived discipleship, she said.
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