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Speaker to look at Christian service in light of centennial

October 21st, 2019

Alain Epp Weaver

Alain Epp Weaver, Bethel’s 2019 Menno Simons lecturer, will look at some facets of the history of MCC, marking 100 years in 2020.

Weaver, currently director of strategic planning for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), will speak at Bethel College Mennonite Church on the morning of Oct. 27 and then deliver four lectures at the college: on the evening of Oct. 27, the morning and evening of Oct. 28, and the evening of Oct. 29.

All lectures take place in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center and are free and open to the public. A time for questions and discussion will follow each lecture.

Epp Weaver’s overall series title is “In the Name of Christ: Missiological Reflections on Mennonite Central Committee’s Past, Present and Future.”

“In 2020, MCC will celebrate 100 years of relief, development and peacebuilding service around the world ‘in the name of Christ,’” Epp Weaver said.

“These lectures reflect on the meaning of Christian service through an exploration of MCC’s history.”

He continued, “By examining shifts and tensions within MCC’s work across the past century, these lectures will ask broader questions about who Christian service is for, questions such as: Who is understood to be serving whom? Where does Christian service happen? How is Christian service shaped by contexts of colonialism and racism? How does Christian service relate to broader humanitarian discourses?”

The title of the Sunday evening lecture is “Constructing Christian Service: Landscapes of MCC.”

In Monday’s Bethel convocation at 11 a.m., Epp Weaver will speak on “Listening and Waiting: MCC and Shifting Understandings of Christian Service.”

The Monday evening lecture is “First to the Household of Faith?: MCC, Humanitarianism and the Church,” and Tuesday evening’s topic is “Accompanying, Connecting, Measuring, Dismantling: Missiologies in Tension within MCC.”

For the past 10 years, Epp Weaver has worked on strategic planning for MCC out of the Akron, Pa., office.

He previously worked for MCC for 11 years in the Middle East, which included teaching English at a Catholic school in the West Bank, coordinating MCC programs in the Gaza Strip, and directing MCC programs in Palestine-Israel, Jordan and Iraq.

Epp Weaver is the author of four books – including Mapping Exile and Return: Palestinian Dispossession and a Political Theology for a Shared Future (Fortress, 2014) and Inhabiting the Land: Thinking Theologically about the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Cascade, 2018) – and the editor of five, including A Table of Sharing: Mennonite Central Committee and Expanding Networks of Mennonite Identity (Cascadia, 2010).

Epp Weaver graduated from Bethel College in 1991 with a B.A. in philosophy and Bible and religion. He has a Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Chicago.

Epp Weaver is married to Sonia Weaver (also a 1991 Bethel graduate), and they have two grown children, ages 25 and 23. He lives in Lancaster, Pa., and attends East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church.

He also has local connections in his mother, Dianne Epp, North Newton, and sister, Bethel College Associate Professor of Visual Art and Design Rachel Epp Buller, and her family. 

The John P. and Carolina Schrag Kaufman family established the Menno Simons Lectureship Endowment to promote research and public lectures by recognized scholars relating to Anabaptist-Mennonite history, thought, life and culture, past and present. Since 1997, the family of William E. and Meta Goering Juhnke has also contributed substantially to the endowment. Both families have their roots in the Moundridge area.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see


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.