Joe Hackman, Salford
Iâ€™m a young(er) adult. And like many of my peers, I often bemoan how our tradition often
seems more interested in studying the past than dreaming of the future. However, a week spent in San Jose, CA as a delegate has helped to re-frame a few past perceptions.
I believe the Adult Delegate Assembly was a time of soul formation for the new denomination. Remember, we are only six years old! As we discussed resolutions pertaining to health care, creation care, and ecumenism, it was evident that the soul of this new denomination continues to take shape. The decisions made at these sessions will determine how future generations understand themselves as a church, and will inform how we dream about our future.
Besides delegate sessions, I was encouraged by speakers in both the adult and youth worship services. Shane Hipps, a first generation Mennonite from Arizona, was one of these speakers. On Thursday morning, Shane shared pieces of his life journey that have led him to Anabaptism. Towards the end of his inspiring talk, Shane offered this lament: â€œI wish I didnâ€™t have to work so hard to find you.â€ This phrase has stuck with me over the last few weeks. I hear it replayed in my head virtually every day. Why was it that Shane had to look so hard to find us? Shane grew up in a Christian home in North America.
Yet by the time he was an adult, his only encounter with Anabaptism was from sitting in his mother-in-lawâ€™s Amish decorated living room. Shaneâ€™s story was just one of a few I heard through speakers and conversations of how North American Christians are looking hard to find people like us. They wish a Christian group existed that believed in the centrality of Jesus, in the power of community, and in the possibility of peace. But they simply donâ€™t know we exist. The way of life that we have been striving to practice throughout the last 500 years simply remains a hidden treasure that much of the Christian church would love to find.
San Jose was a place to find encouragement and form conviction. Iâ€™m encouraged that our denominational leaders are teaching us to honor and learn from valuable parts of our past; but also, they make it clear that we are called to boldly walk into a future that might look very different from our past. And Iâ€™m convicted to sing a favorite song of my childhood: â€œHide it under a bushel, No! I want to let it shine.â€ Many North American Christians are in search of a faith practiced from our perspective. And they should not have to look so hard to find it.
Thanks Joe for your inspiring thoughts. It sounds like a missional experiment could be explored here. What if two or three congs, CRMs and FMC came together to explore what a 21st century, Anabaptist/Mennonite church, that was not “hidden under a bushel” and could be found quickly, look like? There are several groups already talking about this in FMC; but we do need more.