Pastor serves Methodists, MennonitesBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
Mennonite pastor Bruce Bradshaw goes to church on Sunday morning, puts on his priestly robes, climbs into the pulpit to preach and serves communion to those who kneel at the altar rail.
Later, in the evening, he drives 40 miles southeast to lead worship at Mennonite Congregation of Boston. It’s a half-time position, just like his other ministry at Arlington Street United Methodist Church in Nashua, N.H.
“They are as different as churches can be,” Bradshaw said. “They have hardly anything in common with each other.”
Mennonite Church USA director of leadership development Terry Shue said there are several MC USA-credentialed pastors who have bounced back and forth between Mennonite and non-Mennonite denominations, but he doesn’t know of any other pastor who splits time simultaneously.
“Depending upon how it is set up, we may not know,” he said.
Bradshaw said he’s privileged to serve a Methodist church, blending Methodist traditions with Anabaptist themes. Most of the time they are complementary — the Methodist congregation is beginning to focus on community, discipleship and service.
One point of difference is baptism. Methodists baptize infants, based on Acts 2:38-39, which states “the promise is for you and your children.” Bradshaw said the Greek term is intentionally “children,” marking the time children are welcomed into the covenant of the church. The Book of Acts also includes references to baptizing households, which probably included children.
“I can respect the tradition,” he said. “Whether I agree with it or not, the tradition has biblical support.”
He said he is not going to compare the best of one tradition with the worst of the other, realizing traditions can have flaws and baptism in either tradition can create dilemmas.
“Methodist pastors baptize infants who do not know what is going on, and Mennonites are vulnerable to baptizing adolescents who do not care what is going on,” he said. “While I minister in each tradition, I prefer to baptize people, at any age, who testify to a transformative faith in Jesus Christ.”
Comment on the article Pastor serves Methodists, Mennonites
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.