In July of 2014 the U.S. Mennonite Brethren (USMB) conference ratified a revision to its Confession of Faith article 13 entitled “Love, Peacemaking, and Reconciliation.” The purpose of this site is to help facilitate further conversation among USMBs on the topics discussed in the revised article.
The eggshells are set… the powder is kegged… the minefield is laid… could there be a more challenging time to discuss peace, violence, reconciliation, Jesus, and us than right now?
Our whole world seems so polarized. Every conversation topic feels like it runs the risk widening the an ever-growing gap between us and others – especially controversial topics like: what life Jesus calls us to; who “we” are (as Mennonite Brethren, and as Christians); the best way to peace; where our allegiances lie; how to prioritize safety, justice, and freedom; how to treat one’s enemies; etc.
Undoubtedly, the conversations we’ll have here will discomfort us. People won’t think what we think; won’t believe what we believe; won’t say it how we’d say it… and to make matters worse, they’ll likely have pretty good reasons for those differences. Those reasons will unsettle us, even anger us, partially because we’ll think they’re wrong, and partially because we’ll worry that we’re wrong. We may even wrestle with the implications of holding wrong beliefs and motives, or that our conduct fails to match our ideals. I’m persuaded that these are the moments which offer the opportunity for most growth, but it will require graciousness: grace for others in their moments of wrestling; with the statements the make from there; and how they make them, and grace for ourselves as we wrestle too.
“Difference is the place where God is found. In seeking peace we’re walking onto holy ground.” (Nathan Grieser – Together)
It may require a kind of covenantal vow (a commitment made with someone regardless of whether they remain faithful to their vow). I will be gracious with you. Please be gracious with me.
Future posts will outline suggested guidelines for conversation; topics for discussion; and the development of the conversation but for this very first post there are a few essential elements to highlight. As Mennonite Brethren we believe that:
1.) Jesus is the center of our faith and that the Bible is formative, normative, and authoritative for us, so these conversations will center on Jesus through the Bible.
2.) Community is the center of our life, so these conversations will center on forming us into faithful disciples and members of the community of Christ, the Church.
3.) Reconciliation is our central task, so we are most interested in reconciling people to God, to each other, to themselves, and to God’s creation and these conversations will center on those themes.
With all this in mind, please visit the Discussion Forum to find a list of conversations to join.
As we discuss how best to follow you as faithful disciples guide our eyes as we read to see the hearts seeking after you in words that seem discordant. Guide our minds as we think, striving to match our thoughts, lives, and actions with yours. Guide our hearts as we converse, seeking you, truth, and a community of faith that embodies who you are and what you’re about.