A Review of New (Swiss-German) Mennonite Historical Fiction

My Loyalist Origins, by Herb Swartz. Victoria, B. C.: Friesen Press, 2015. 275 pp. Paperback. $15. ISBN: 978-1-4602-7458-3.

Both My Sons, by Ken Yoder Reed. Morgantown, Pa.: Masthof Press, 2016. 412 pp. Paperback. $19.95. ISBN: 978-1-60126-499-2.

Christian’s Hope, by Ervin R. Stutzman. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press, 2016. 339 pp. (paper). $14.99. ISBN: 978-0-8361-9942-0.

In his excellent monograph on what it means to understand the past, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Sam Wineburg relates an experience from his 1996 study of how ordinary people understand themselves in relation to the past. In one interview, he spoke with a father who wanted his daughter to understand the Vietnam War experience. The father did not look to books of history, nor his coworker who fought in the war; instead he suggested, “We’ll have to get a copy of The Green Berets, you know, with John Wayne or something like that, so she’s a little bit more aware of what was going on. I don’t know how accurate all that is, but a least it would bring up some questions” (232). Fiction shapes how we see the past. Three historical fiction novels with the ability to shape how modern Anabaptists see the past were published in 2016: My Loyalist Origins, by Herb Swartz; Both My Sons, by Ken Reed; and Christian’s Hope, by Ervin Stutzman. 

My Loyalist OriginsHerb Swartz’s My Loyalist Origins is an attempt to work through his personal identity through historical fiction. He tells the story of the founding of America, from colonialism through the Revolutionary War, with some forays earlier back in time to discuss the origins of Anabaptism. Structured as a series of dreams with brief intervals of lucidity, Swartz gives a semi-historical account with a sometimes thin ribbon of story tying it all together. The book has six sections covering the discovery of America; the origins of Pennsylvania and Anabaptism; early wars, both colonial and the Revolution; the creation of the United States government; loyalist emigration to Canada, focusing on the Mennonite experience; and the settlement of Ebytown, now Kitchener, Ontario.

Swartz’s approach to understanding his personal origins in a very broad context is interesting, and he does attempt to create an approachable past throughout the book. He clearly understands that people operate in a broader milieu, and that understanding the world around them is key to gaining insight into how they understand themselves. So committed is he to helping readers understand the political environments of those colonial Americans that he includes the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution, and a list of failed amendments as appendices to his book.

However, the narrative framework—a secret-agent style television producer pays Swartz-as-narrator to research his origins as background for a “rest of the story” television show, a process that inspires a feverish series of dreams he has that show him the way back—are less compelling and require great suspension of disbelief. Swartz seems to be writing more for himself, and allowing us to accompany him on his journey to see what we might learn from it. There is value in this, but it is not presented neatly. It must be found.

Unfortunately, My Loyalist Origins falls apart with a flurry of small errors, some of which I will cover, often in short, offhand comments. Puerto Rico is not the island of Hispaniola, as he mentions on page 20; Hispaniola is modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He also gives a classic monogenesis of Anabaptism in Chapter 10, as opposed to the more accurate polygenesis account. He dreams of a Quaker member of parliament in 1739 objecting to the War of Jenkins Ear (79-80), but Friends were not allowed to serve in the British Parliament until the 1798 Act of Toleration allowed them to take seats without swearing oaths. Longbows were not invented by the Scottish and during the wars of Scottish independence (114) led by Robert the Bruce—longbows are generally considered to be Welsh, and were in use centuries earlier. Swartz could have used a better fact checker. None are major errors, but as they pile on, they cloud the truth that Swartz does include.

Both My Sons Front Cover, 6.9.16Both My Sons, by Ken Reed, is a story of leaving and belonging, reconciliation and redemption, capturing in broad strokes the experiences of early immigrants to what is now Lancaster County. Reed tells the story through Klaus Greenywalt, a composite of early immigrants. The story centers around Greenywalt’s relationship to his two sons, one of which is legitimate, and their mothers—one being his European Mennonite wife, the other his Scots-Irish mistress (taken while he thought his wife had died in Europe). We are carried along as Greenywalt converts in Europe while working for a Mennonite miller after the murder of his father, purchases land in the original Pequea settlement, is involved with colonial administration, helps foster further Mennonite immigration, loses his eldest son, and dies during the middle of the French and Indian war, all the while trying to maintain relationships with his children and peace between their mothers.

Reed does engage in interesting use of perspective in Both My Sons, with two middle sections being told from the perspectives of “the indentured girl,” Janey, with whom he has an affair, and “the wife.” This helps provide fuller insight into the colonial experience—not just the perspective of a white male Mennonite settler.

Where Both My Sons runs into trouble is the nature of truth when history and fiction collide, a problem exacerbated by his characterization through historical composite. There is one notable absence in the Pequea Settlement as portrayed by Reed: Martin Kendig. Greenywalt is clearly modeled heavily from Kendig: a major land dealer, returning to Europe to recruit immigrants, and even occupying the same tracts of land on the representation of the Pequea settlement. Kendig was, however, not an adulterer, and so did not share the engaging conflict that makes Greenywalt such a compelling character. When doing history, it is important to treat those who lived in the past with respect, and eliminating Kendig without comment is not treating his subject with due deference. Reed is writing fiction, and as such has great liberty to shape his story; perhaps that he does not let historical accuracy impede a good story is a testament to his imagination. But because he is writing historical fiction instead of creating a story from scratch, he is responsible for the past he presents.

Reed makes an attempt to address this in his disclaimer, “But is it true?.” He answers, “the central character, Greenywalt, is an invention of the author. . . . The scenes and conversations of his life are imaginary. However, the main events and people in Greenywalt’s world are real” (xi). This slipperiness between history and fiction, as best indicated by the curious case of Martin Kendig, while allowing for an enjoyable story, limits its historical usefulness in appreciating the lives of those who have gone before.

Christian's-Hope-Final-medium-webChristian’s Hope, like Both My Sons, is a novel of colonial Pennsylvania set just after the French and Indian War. The third and final installment in the Return To Northkill series picks up the story of Christian Hochstetler, the youngest son of Jacob Hochstetler. Christian, having lived with the Shawnee for eight years following his capture during the “Hochstetler Massacre,” is forced to return to his father and colonial Pennsylvania society due to the terms of the treaty ending the French and Indian War. Back on the farm, he struggles to reintegrate with his birth family and farm life, bound by a vow to remain true to the native way of life. He finds peace through an enticing relationship with Orpha Rupp and her Dunkard community.

Stutzman’s prose is clear and engaging, keeping the story moving at a steady clip. Though it is part of a series, it is not necessary to have read the prior novels, Jacob’s Choice and Joseph’s Dilemma, to appreciate Christian’s Hope. The details are filled in through a prologue and some flashbacks.

In contrast to Both My Sons, Christian’s Hope sets up an excellent author-reader contract. Stutzman is clear where he has taken liberties and what we do not know. In the preface before the novel, and the historical note after, Stutzman gives helpful historical context, clearly states what he changed for clarity, and admits what cannot be known.

As I was working on this review, I discussed it with a scholar friend of mine. He said, “I don’t have the time to read that sort of stuff, but I suppose somebody has to.” The issue of time is a real one, but he is missing out on some of the most important works on Mennonite history to come out in 2016 on two counts. First, fiction allows us to enter the past in a more intimate way, such as when we follow Greenywalt on the long road to his son’s funeral or enter the conviction of Christian’s conversion. Secondly, history is made of the stories we tell ourselves. This is the only way we understand the past, and on that account these works are important because stories of the past are being told, and being told in an accessible way. The importance of historical fiction, despite any errors individual works have, is that it gives us an accessible past that we can use. As the father muses in his interview with Wineberg, “at least it would bring up some questions.” Each of these books is worth picking up.

A condensed version of this review first appeared in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage 40:1 (January 2017)

Faithfully Your Fellow Watchman

Joel Horst Nofziger

A collection recently donated to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, included a diagram depicting “Goshen College and the Fruits Thereof.” It shows six main branches, with a plethora of fruit growing from them: worldliness, unsound literature, hypocrisies, disloyalty, unsound teachers, and modernism. In the bottom corner, a note—”Lest we Forget! JHM”1

Tree Diagram Modernism.jpg

(Bishop) John Heer Mosemann was heavily concerned with Modernism, which he saw as seducing the youth away from the Church and pointing to false spiritual answers elsewhere. In 1904 Mosemann was ordained a minister by Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster Mennonite Conference, part of a new wave of leadership alongside Peter R. Nissley and John H. Shelly. In 1926 he became bishop of the Lancaster district, and was a well known as an evangelist and ardent conservative voice. He was strongly influenced by George R. Brunk and Brunk’s Mennonite Fundamentalism. Mosemann was involved in missions, education, publishing, and conference work.2

In a letter addressed “To my dear fellowbishops” dated March 2, 1929, Bishop John H. Mosemann justified his suspicions about “the brother working in our midst,” either Ernest E. Miller or George J. Lapp, both missionaries to India. After listing the suspicious involvements he states,3

Naturally the question arises how can he do these things? There are reasons for this which may find their explanation in the following items.

  1. He received his education in the former Modernistically corrupt Goshen College. He does not seem to have shaken much of this teaching off. [Formatting in original document]
  2. This Modernistic College intended to Liberalize and Modernize the entire Mennonite Church. For years they were wishing to have a faithful lieutenant in this County. They are seeking to Liberalize the Church every where and are succeeding rapidly as one faithful old pillar after another is passing away in the Church.
  3. They taught Modernistic doctrines. evolutionary ideas. World Betterment views. Against the “Faith of the Fathers.” They opposed the doctrine of the Plenary Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures. They disbelieved in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. They denied the efficacy of the blood of Christ and believed the self righteous doctrine of Salvation by Works – good character. In other words the delusive doctrine of Unitarianism.
  4. They were taught to al[m]ost worship Harry Emerson Fosdick the noted Modernist – veneered and polished Infidel as well as other present day Modernist’s. [sic.]
  5. They were taught to be rebellious to their Church leaders and to their Conferences.
  6. They were encouraged to return to their homes and revolutionize their Church and Community. A vivid example we have seen in the workings of Pre. Amos Geigly.
  7. Another aim they seem to have was to get their product in all manner of positions in the Church [. . . .] Some years ago it was easily seen that the Goshen element were seeking to control General Conference [. . .]
  8. It was the purpose to compel every prospective missionary to complete their education at Goshen College, which accounts for the large number of liberal missionaries now on the field. Thus every missionary would eventually become of the liberal type.

[. . .]

The Liberalists in the Dunkard Church have pushed this matter to the limit so that the conservatives are powerless to do a thing unless they wish to leave the Church. We are heading in the same direction but may be able to do something if it is done quickly, firmly, courageously and uncompromisingly. [. . .] If I am in error on any point I wish to beg pardon. However I must clear my skirts and therefore speak in plain terms.

Faithfully your fellow watchman

It should be noted that while Mosemann and others made numerous and loud accusations suspecting the India Mission in particular of “un-Christian activities,” no doctrinal deviation was ever proven.4

Today, Mosemann’s exhortation, “lest we forget,” is still true, but for reasons he might not recognize. Suspicions about Goshen College have mellowed. In some ways, the conflict within Mennonite churches over Modernism feels settled, though the results can be seen across the strata of Anabaptist groups existing today (the conflict within MC USA today over sexuality has clear antecedents in the same fight, with the method in which scripture is used being a clear indicator). And it can be easy to dismiss Mosemann as misguided in the same way he would have thrown out the Modernists from the Church, or write him off as a cautionary tale about being on the wrong side of history.

But John H. Mosemann was doing his best to live a faithful Christian life. When doing history, it is important to remember that the subjects of inquiry were real and are deserving of respect on the basis of their humanity. Perhaps we differ from Mosemann on how to live our faith today, or perhaps not, but we should not forget that he was trying his best to produce “good fruit.”


  1. John H. Mosemann, “Tree Diagram,” n.d.,Noah L. Landis Collection, Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Lancaster, Pa. 
  2. John L. Ruth, The Earth Is the Lords (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2001), 770-71, 881, 907; Mosemann, John H., “Moseman, John Heer (1877-1938)” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mosemann,John_Heer(1877-1938)
  3. John H. Mosemann  to “my dear fellowbishops,” March 2, 1929, Noah L. Landis Collection, Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Lancaster, Pa. 
  4. John Allen Lapp, The Mennonite Church in India 1897-1962 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1972), 61. 

You wouldn’t think corn is fascinating, but it is: Three years of Midstate Memories

“You wouldn’t think corn is fascinating, but it is.” And with this comment, so launched the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society’s final “Midstate Memories” segment.

In 2014, Good Day PA, a program on WHTM/ABC27 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, began “Midstate Memories” as a repeating segment of its live show to educate viewers about history in central Pennsylvania and efforts to preserve that history. The vision was for brief spots—two and a half to three minutes of live television—that covered “one specific event (or anniversary of an event), an industry, a building, a natural disaster, a special visit of a prominent person, etc,” that also included strong visuals, whether photos, artifacts, or film footage. A caveat was that each segment was not to be promoting an upcoming event by the presenting organization, but instead “the essence of the segment [should] be a mini history lesson.” For 2014 and 2015, the segment ran every Tuesday sometime between 12:30 and 1 p.m., depending on the other portions of the show. In 2016, “Midstate Memories” aired the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. In the first year, there were eleven participants, increasing to twelve in the second year, and thirteen for 2016.1 Each participating organization provided a scripted interview for its respective segments, which was then filmed live.

I became involved in my role as Director of Communications for the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society (LMHS), which includes the 1719 Hans Herr House & Museum. Over three years, we organized eleven segments:2 four each for 2014 and 2015, three for 2016. There topics were as follows:

  • Mennonite hymnody
  • Hispanic Mennonites in Lancaster, Pa.
  • Mennonite films
  • Travel and Mennonite emigration/immigration
  • Mennonite connections between Lancaster and the rest of the world
  • DNA and Genealogy
  • West Willow, Pa.
  • Native Americans in Central Pa.
  • Collecting historical photographs
  • Grain Harvesting
  • The history of corn

My general approach was to choose an upcoming event, and then do a segment on a topic related to what would be covered so that I could promote LMHS events while still living into the purpose of Midstate Memories. For example, the 1719 Hans Herr House & Museum, as well as the upcoming Christmas Candlelight Tours, focus on the role of corn in Native American society and how European immigrants interacted with it, and so on November 22, we focused the segment on corn. The presentation on connections between Lancaster and the broader world integrated the preparatory work the Society did leading up to Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, Pa., specifically the 2015 Annual Music Night which focused on the music of Anabaptist-associated immigrants to Lancaster (hymns, yes, but also norteño and more).

I was only in front of the camera for one spot. For the others, I worked with other LMHS staff persons or volunteers who were more connected with the topic, and had them present. When the segment was on Hispanic Mennonites, I turned to Rolando Santiago, our director, because this is part of his story. When the topic was Native Americans, I looked to Ruth Py, a volunteer educator for the Lancaster Longhouse at the 1719 Hans Herr House & Museum, because it is her story.

It is hard to quantify how successful these segments were. I have no hard data, only anecdotal evidence. As a marketing endeavor, there was no detectable impact on event attendance, and limited increases in website visitation and social media engagement. In terms of educating midstate residents about history, I can but wonder. It was only in the final year that I felt I had an effective approach—mostly on account of trying to accomplish too much in previous years during the very limited time slot. However, after each spot, I left feeling as if each segment’s core message had been communicated adequately, even if not in the depth I had hoped. Appearing on Good Day PA also presented the opportunity to reach out to a much larger audience in a very different space than usual for the Society, and making history known and visible in that way is valuable.


  1. Email Correspondence between the author and Good Day PA staff between 2014 and 2016. 
  2. See some of those here: http://abc27.com/?s=Lancaster+Mennonite+Historical+Society 

Call For Papers: What Young Historians Are Thinking

What Young Historians Are Thinking Symposium

June 5, 2017

The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, in partnership with the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College and with the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, welcomes paper proposals for its event “What Young Historians Are Thinking.”

Invited to participate are undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, those who have just started careers in history, and those who are “young” in scholarly study of historical topics (no matter what their age). All must be engaged in original research using chiefly primary sources (written and/or oral). All should be a part of an Historic Peace Church (Amish, Brethren in Christ, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Religious Society of Friends/Quaker, etc.) or focusing on one or more of these traditions.

Those interested should submit a 250-word proposal for a 20-minute paper to be given at the symposium, along with a brief autobiographical sketch and full contact information. Send these to Joel Nofziger at Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602, or at younghistorians@lmhs.org. A limited number of travel scholarships are available. Please note in the proposal whether this will be needed. The symposium will take place at Ridgeview Mennonite Church in Gordonville, Pennsylvania, at 7:00 p.m.

Symposium Planning Committee: Jeff Bach, Simone Horst, Devin Manzullo-Thomas, Joel Nofziger, and Anne Yoder.

Proposals are due April 14, 2017

Call for Papers: Word, Spirit, and the Renewal of the Church

believerschurchconfwordspiritrenewalposter

In the fall of 1517, Martin Luther’s challenge to the authority of the papacy and church tradition—along with his appeal to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)—inspired various reformers to read scripture and to understand the liberating power of the Holy Spirit in new ways. But what started as a renewal movement within the Catholic Church soon led to a host of divisions, giving rise to Protestant, Anabaptist, and other traditions, including those groups known as the Believers’ Church. Among the latter, the deep debts to the renewal impulses of late medieval Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation are unmistakable. In the 500 years since then, the church—including the Believers’ Church movement—has further expanded globally in a great diversity of forms.

This conference seeks to explore the gifts and tensions of the Reformation legacy for the Believers’ Church tradition, with a view toward its ecumenical and global dimensions. The gathering will focus especially on the debates that have swirled around the themes of Biblical authority, the movement of the Spirit, and the renewal of the church.

The conference theme “Word, Spirit, and the Renewal of the Church” can encompass a wide range of disciplines, approaches, and topics. We seek proposals from theologians, biblical scholars, ethicists, historians, pastors, and graduate students that address how the debates of the sixteenth century continue to find expression in contemporary understandings of Word, Spirit, and the renewal of the church. We are especially interested in papers that bring voices from the Believers’ Church into conversation with other Christian traditions.

Possible questions and topics to address include:

  • How does a given understanding of Word and Spirit, and their relation to each other, interact with another doctrine (e.g., creation, Christology, ecclesiology, etc.)?
  • What are some of the theological and sociological dynamics of past and present renewal movements within the Believers’ Church tradition?
  • How do groups in the Believers’ Church tradition interpret the Bible and its authority vis-à-vis other Christian traditions?
  • How has the Reformation called into question the location of the church: where/who is the church today?
  • What are some of the key issues facing comparative theologies, ethics, and practices of grace, discipleship, tradition, enculturation, church unity and renewal, worship and preaching, etc.?
  • How are the central issues of the Reformation relevant to the Believers’ Church, especially in its global dimension?

Presentations should reflect a thoughtful engagement with scholarship but be accessible to a broad audience, including interested lay people. A limited number of travel grants will be available, with highest priority going to presenters coming from the Global South and students.

Please submit a one-page CV and a 250-word abstract for a paper or a complete panel/workshop session (with presenters indicated) by April 1, 2017 to John D. Roth (johndr@goshen.edu). Conference organizers will respond by May 1, 2017.

Shoofly Pie, Pennsylvania Dutch, and the Mennonites

As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine1 by William Woys Weaver is many things: it is a detailed look at the foodways among the Pennsylvania Dutch, a commentary on modern culture, and a cookbook. It is scholarly and snarky. It purposely does not focus on Anabaptists, though it does deal extensively with the Amish in popular imagination. Weaver states in his introduction: “In terms of the larger culinary story, the Amish are mostly marginal anyway because the real centers of creative Pennsylvania Dutch cookery were in the towns and not to be found among the outlying Amish or Mennonite communities, even though today the Mennonites have attempted to preempt the Amish as their cultural public-relations handlers in their Amish and Mennonite cookbooks to press for ‘Christian’ culinary values—whatever that may mean” (7). He is also clear that one of his major criteria for the recipes he highlights in the book was to contrast against the “artificial portrait” created by Amish tourism (8).15094

What Weaver sets about doing in As American as Shoofly Pie is to take food as the avenue into Pennsylvania Dutch culture to discuss its identity markers—historic and current—as well as the class dynamics involved, portrayals in popular culture, and the commercially driven conflation of the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch. He details cooking implements, the “cabbage wall” of sauerkraut defining the borders of Pennsylvania Dutch country, how the Amish imagery became normative for Pennsylvania Dutch tourism, and how the culture is renewing itself. It is an excellent read, both informative and engagingly written.2

I use here the term “Pennsylvania Dutch” instead of “Pennsylvania German” for two reasons: first, because that is the terminology of Weaver, and second, because the “Pennsylvania Dutch” have no connection to the nation-state of Germany, past or present. On the second point, I will offer a story from my wife’s family history:

When Pop-Pop Riegle was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II, the camp taught German to the POWs. The guards doubled over in laughter to hear the POWs from New York City try to pronounce words with a New York accent. My grandfather, from what I understand, could converse with the guards easily, because he spoke Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch. The German guards asked him why he was fighting for the wrong side. To them, speaking German meant loyalty to Deutschland. For my grandfather, speaking a German dialect was part of his American culture.

Furthermore, it seems this story is borne out in every ethnography of the Pennsylvania Dutch I have encountered. They all carry a variation of the following: A researcher walks up to some Pennsylvania Dutch women and asks them about how they describe themselves, only to be rebuffed with, “We’re not Pennsylvania Dutch, we’re American.” The Pennsylvania Dutch are an American cultural group consisting of a blend of German speakers, mostly Palatinate and Swiss, who settled together. The eponym “Dutch” has long roots going back into medieval Europe as a term for western German speakers. They can be divided into two broad categories, the Plain Dutch, such as the Amish and Mennonites, or the Gay (Fancy) Dutch, such as my wife’s Lutheran and Reformed forebears.

It is important for Mennonite scholars to remember that Mennonite fish were just one school swimming in Pennsylvania Dutch water. Even though they may have been marginal in shaping Pennsylvania Dutch culture, as Weaver notes, they were still shaped by it. Mennonites all across South Central Pennsylvania were surrounded by people who spoke, ate, and worked in the same ways they did—the majority of them Lutheran or Reformed, but also the Amish, Church of the Brethren, and other plain Anabaptists.[^3]  As Felipe Hinojosa has noted, place matters—both in space and time, as well as culturally. The Swiss-German strain of the Mennonite experience practiced their faith and promulgated their beliefs not in ethnic colonies but surrounded by a shared culture that itself was distinctive from broader America. Surely this has led to a different way of knowing and living as Mennonites. For this reason, scholars dealing with Mennonite identity must familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania Dutch culture. For its insistence on placing the Pennsylvania Dutch culture within the broader national culture, and his disgust at the conflation of the Amish with the Pennsylvania Dutch, Weaver’s As American as Shoofly Pie is an excellent place to start.


  1. William Woys Weaver, As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). 
  2. This is not to say there are no points where I disagree with Weaver.  For example, his repetition of Rufus Jones’ claim that the Amish adapted bonnets from Quakers as “common knowledge” (135) is uncritical at best.
    [^3] Moravians are one of the German groups that maintained a markedly different culture than that of the Pennsylvania Dutch. 

Mennonites, Service, and the Humanitarian Impulse: MCC at 100

Call for papers

October 23-24, 2020

mcc-logo_fbIn 1920 Mennonites from different ethnic and church backgrounds formed Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to collaboratively respond to the famine ravaging Mennonite communities in the Soviet Union (Ukraine). Over the ensuing century, MCC has grown to embrace disaster relief, development, and peacebuilding in over 60 countries around the world. MCC has been one of the most influential Mennonite organizations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It has operated as a mechanism for cooperation among a wide variety of Mennonite groups, including Brethren in Christ and Amish, constructing a broad inter-Mennonite, Anabaptist identity. Yet it has also brought Mennonites into global ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.

This centennial conference invites proposals for papers that examine the past, present, and future of MCC. More broadly it invites papers on the Mennonites’ response to the biblical call to love one’s neighbor through practical acts of service. Proposals from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives are welcomed, including but not limited to anthropology, conflict transformation and peacebuilding, cultural studies, development studies, economics, history, political science, sociology, and theology.

The conference will be hosted by the Chair of Mennonite Studies, University of Winnipeg, in collaboration with Canadian Mennonite University.

Proposal submission: December 1, 2019. Send proposals or questions to Royden Loewen, Chair in Mennonite Studies, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9, Canada. Email: r.loewen@uwinnipeg.ca

Limited research grants are available to help defray costs related to research in MCC’s archives in Akron, Pennsylvania or at other MCC sites. Queries, with a brief two paragraph description of the proposed research, should be sent to Alain Epp Weaver (aew@mcc.org). Requests for research grants will be assessed on an ongoing, rolling basis.

See also at https://mccintersections.wordpress.com/mcc-at-100-call-for-proposals/