As soon as a friend hears me mention that I’m Mennonite, a list of questions usually follows. So here’s a part of my story that you won’t know, unless I tell you.
This week, I’m at the Mennonite Church USA Convention.
Three years ago, I didn’t even know such thing existed. Now, I’m spending an entire week with thousands of Mennonites, and volunteering with a service team.
I joined the Mennonite church in 2007, shortly before I left DC. I made this decision as a result of my study abroad experience in 2004, and my church in DC. Mennonite thought influenced both of these places, so I naturally gained exposure to the Mennonite culture.
For me, being Mennonite boils down to “following in the footsteps of Jesus”. I know, I know. Every Christian denomination believes this. Here’s how this plays out in my actions, outside of my words.
- Non-violence and peace-keeping
- Living Simply
- Acts of Service
I believe Jesus calls us to these three things. Each topic could generate an entire website by themselves, so I’m giving you the watered down Kyla version in 500 words or less.
In his life, Jesus taught and lived peace. He consistently sought to bring healing to all situations and all people. Mennonites often call this the “third way”. When you’re caught in the middle of what appears to be an “either/or” conflict, usually a third option exists that we miss, but Jesus always manages to find. Briefly, being pacifist does not mean living life passively, running away from all conflict. Living a pacifist life means actively seeking peace in all situations.
I think through my purchasing decisions, and attempt to care for all creation. I am cautious with what materials I buy, knowing that where I place my money impacts people other than corporate managers. I do not want to live so attached to my belongings, that I cannot pack up and leave at a moment’s notice, should the Holy Spirit be so bold as to ask me to do so.
If I am following a God who loves and gives generously, I want to be a woman who lives the same. Jesus didn’t just hang out with and teach his disciples, he served them. Not only did he serve his best friends, but if Jesus met you, he served you. Now that’s a man I’m willing to follow.
A person doesn’t need to call themselves Mennonite to believe and follow the principles above. I’m sure Lutherans, Methodists, etc., follow these principles as well. I am not culturally Mennonite, meaning, I wasn’t raised Mennonite and can’t play the Mennonite game, but I chose this way. My experiences and education pointed me in this direction, and I identify well with Mennonite thought.
Here’s a website with deeper history and knowledge of Mennonites. Ask me questions!