Alumni | Give to BC | Athletics | Fine Arts | Thresher Connect | Search


New book in Wedel Series based on lectures on Mennonites' global witness

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College announces the publication of the latest volume in its Wedel Series.

Going Global with God as Mennonites in the 21st Century by Walter Sawatsky is based on his Menno Simons Lectures, the 62nd annual, delivered at Bethel in October 2014.

The book includes an introduction by Sawatsky and a sermon, titled “The Nevertheless of Love,” which he preached at Bethel College Mennonite Church Oct. 26, 2014, just before beginning the four-lecture series.

The four chapters that parallel the lectures are “The Pluralities of History: Why Russian Mennonites as Paradigm,” “Reconciling Free Churches to Two Millennia of Global Christianity,” “After 500 Years: Pressing Issues from the Mirror on Globalization of Mennonite Witness” and “Integrating Worship, Ethics, Nonviolence and Public Theology for the 21st Century.”

In his introduction to Going Global with God, Sawatsky states that the lectures begin with “the Russian Mennonite experience in the 20th century … as a possible theological paradigm for the Mennonite ‘global church,’ possibly beyond that.

In the second chapter, his purpose is “to offer a more appreciative appropriation of all Christian history, because we must.”

Third, he says, “I seek to present what is sometimes called a rethinking of all of Mennonite history when viewed from a global perspective, to help us draw conclusions on the primary task of this new century.

“Finally, I am attempting to examine the 20th century – the bloodiest century – when the way of nonviolence that we claim to believe in turned out to be more powerful than even the surfeit of nuclear weapons. Only now, 20 years later, we in America are again living comfortably in a [world] that … we must … police with our weapons, give free [rein] to capitalism everywhere, as we teach our brand of democracy to everyone.”

Sawatsky, a native of Manitoba, is a graduate of Goshen (Indiana) College, where he was first exposed to the so-called “Old” Mennonite world (as distinguished from the “Russian” Mennonite one). He earned a Ph.D. in modern Russian history at the University of Minnesota.

In 1973, Sawatsky took an assignment with Mennonite Central Committee as a research scholar at the newly formed Center for the Study of Religion and Communism in London, the beginning of a 37-year-long association with MCC.

He lived in Germany from 1977-85, and later worked in MCC program administration and as a “church ambassador” between European and North American Mennonites, based in Canada and the United States.

Sawatsky began teaching church history and mission at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, in 1985, retiring in 2012. During that time, he was also editor of the quarterly journal Religion in Eastern Europe, as well as the AMBS journal Mission Focus: Annual Review, with contributions by missiologists from five continents.

Sawatsky coordinated the 33-volume Russian Bible Commentary translation project (1978-93) and was a member of the Global Mennonite History Project Organizing Committee (1997-2011) and convener of the conference “Mirror on the Globalization of Mennonite Witness” at AMBS in November 2011.

Sawatsky is the author of Soviet Evangelicals since World War II (Herald Press, 1981; Russian edition, 1996) and editor or co-editor of several other volumes.

He has continued to teach periodically since retiring from AMBS, as well as working on numerous writing projects.

Going Global with God as Mennonites for the 21st Century is available for sale in the MLA (call 316-284-5360 for hours) or on

The MLA initiated the Wedel Historical Series as part of Bethel College’s centennial celebration in 1987. Cornelius H. Wedel, the first president of Bethel College from the beginning of classes in 1893 until his death in 1910, was an early scholar of Mennonite studies.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.