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Sarah Unruh ’12

Fifth Mennonite Life: From Yoder to immigration to music video

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The fifth annual issue of Mennonite Life is now live and offers a large number of articles in several theme groupings.

The issue can be viewed at mennonitelife.bethelks.edu.

“It seems that in any grouping of disparate materials, themes naturally emerge, whether intentional or not,” writes Mennonite Life editor Rachel Epp Buller in her introduction to the 2014 issue. In this case, some of the groupings were commissioned and some were coincidental.

The section already creating the most discussion is one of the former – several articles on the legacy of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder,which “has been heavily debated in both popular and scholarly forums, particularly within the past year,” Epp Buller writes.

Several scholars – emerging and established – reflect on why and how they engage with Yoder’s work as they teach students to think critically about theology, social justice, ethics and peacemaking.

Writers are Gayle Gerber Koontz, who has taught for three decades at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana; Gerald Mast, professor of communication at Bluffton (Ohio) University; Malinda Berry, who recently completed her tenure at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, and will begin teaching at AMBS in the fall; Peter Dula, associate professor of religion and culture at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Justin Heinzekehr, adjunct instructor of Bible and religion at Bethel College.

A more coincidental grouping emerged with several pieces, both creative and scholarly, built around issues of remembrance and reflection.

John Thiesen, Bethel co-director of libraries and archivist for the Mennonite Library and Archives, considers the border crossings of immigrant ancestors, while art historian Reinhild Kauenhoven Janzen remembers those involved with the placement and more recent renovation of the Mennonite Settler statue in Newton.

Ami Regier, Bethel professor of literary studies, reflects on the rejuvenation of creative writing among her students. The section also features two preachers: Ed Kauffman finds in the sermons of Robert Hartzler a way to understand Hartzler through retrospective reflection, while Robert Kreider offers a poetic meditation on his faith journey over the course of nine decades.

There are two sections of essays that address 2013 conferences. One was the Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix last July, which prompted a variety of social actions surrounding issues of immigration, border spaces and inclusion.

Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, Bethel associate professor of biology, Joanna Harader, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church, Lawrence, and Ron Adams, pastor of Madison (Wisconsin) Mennonite Church, each write based on their conference presentations in Phoenix.

In October 2013, Bethel hosted the Mothering Mennonite symposium, a day-long series of presentations, conversations and workshops inspired by the publication of a book by the same name.

While several of the presentations from that day are published elsewhere, either in the book Mothering Mennonite or in creative or scholarly journals, the 2014 Mennonite Life includes pieces by three symposium presenters – Kimberly D. Schmidt, associate professor of history and director of the Washington Community Scholars’ Center of Eastern Mennonite University, Anna Dick Gambucci, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Hannah Heinzekehr, communication director for MC USA, Newton.

Finally, the 2014 issue includes the three winners of the first Cornelius Krahn Mennonite Multimedia Contest for high school students.

Past readers of Mennonite Life know the journal sometimes published winning high school contributions in the John Horsch Essay Contest. With the termination of that contest in 2012, the Mennonite Life board decided to launch a new contest aimed at high school students that accepts essays, creative writing, multimedia projects and original works of art or music on topics related to Mennonite or Anabaptist history, identity and theology.

The three winners come from Albania, Canada and the United States, working in the genres of poetry, music video/rap and fiction (short story).

As usual, Mennonite Life includes a section reviewing recent publications – in this case, several memoirs, one work of fiction and a variety of nonfiction titles. Barbara Thiesen, Bethel co-director of libraries, also shares her annual bibliographic compilation.