NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Two major sections of articles in the annual issue of Mennonite Life, now live, deal with the life and legacy of Vincent Harding and with ongoing issues surrounding theologian John Howard Yoder.
The journal is produced at Bethel College, and the current issue can be viewed online.
The journal’s first section is titled “Vincent Harding, In Memoriam.” The civil rights activist, speech writer for Martin Luther King Jr. and former Mennonite pastor died May 19, 2014, at age 82.
“The recent passing of Vincent Harding offers scholars an opportunity to reflect on his contributions to, and conflicted relationship with, the Mennonite church,” says Rachel Epp Buller, Bethel College associate professor of visual arts and design and Mennonite Life editor.
When meeting a year ago to wrap up the 2014 issue of Mennonite Life, says Mark Jantzen, Bethel professor of history, who coordinated the section on Harding, the Mennonite Life board noted Harding’s recent passing.
“From his sojourn with Mennonites, [Harding] went on to be a key civil rights leader and important collaborator with Martin Luther King, Jr. Shortly before his death, after decades of distance,he reconnected with a new generation of young Mennonites and Anabaptists.
“We decided to gather reflections from among that new generation, and from the elders among us who remembered [Harding’s] time in Mennonite churches and leadership, to see what traces of his footprints remain with us.”
The section includes contributions by Tobin Miller Shearer, Drew Hart and Harold Regier, along with a new preface by John A. Lapp to a reprint of Harding’s address to the 1967 Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam.
In the second section of Mennonite Life 2015, “Yoder in Context,” Epp Buller notes that “the legacy of John Howard Yoder’s abuses continues to inform discussions of gender, sexuality and power within Mennonite circles.
“Building on her larger historical scholarship for Mennonite Church USA, Rachel Waltner Goossen here examines three instances of protests against Yoder on Mennonite college campuses [Goshen College, Bethel College and what was then Eastern Mennonite College].
“Ada Schmidt-Tieszen’s piece offers context for Bethel College’s 1992 dis-invitation of Yoder, while Stephanie Krehbiel’s lengthy interview with Ruth Krall addresses not only Yoder’s abuses but also the larger contexts of sexual violence and oppression within the church.”
The third section, titled “Contemporary Mennonite Scholarship,” includes pieces on topics ranging from a Mennonite church bombing in the 1960s, to Mennonite Brethren and the Temperance movement, to Mennonite women’s fiction writing on family mental illness, to maple syrup urine disease in Mennonite and non-Mennonite populations.
The fourth section, “Book Matter,” includes reviews of three memoirs, six novels and three books of nonfiction, including the first book-length study in German of John Howard Yoder’s theology to be published (two have appeared since then), by Hans-Jürgen Goertz.
The 2015 Mennonite Life also includes a call for papers for the 2017 conference at Eastern Mennonite University, “Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries.”