My most vivid memory from the fall of 1987 was sitting in a circle with my preschool classmates taking turns shaking a jar of cream an impossibly long time until it became—wonder of wonders!—butter. There isn’t much drama when you’re four: arguments over who plays with who on the playground, the boredom of lying wide awake on the mat during naptime, joy at seeing Mom again at the end of the day. Continue reading Living in grace and difference
The rolling hills surrounding Harrisonburg, Virginia are beautiful this time of year. In some ways, they remind me of the mountains and farmland back home in Pennsylvania and I’m not surprised that Mennonites migrated here in the 18th century—it must have felt like home!
It’s my first visit to the main campus of Eastern Mennonite University, and as I drove down the highway toward EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute last week, the familiarity of the mountains and grazing cows only fed my anticipation. I was looking forward to studying with other leaders from around the world, cradled in the arms of a warm Mennonite community of scholars and practitioners. In other words, it would be a home away from home.
I was in for a wakeup call. Continue reading Who am I?
by Emily Ralph
We’re a simple people, right?
Yes, I’m a seminary student, but I am often frustrated with those who want to find answers for every single question in the Bible or to debate all the ins and outs of theology. I’m comfortable with a simple faith that learns and accepts, that ponders and lets go, that embraces the ambiguity. I only need to understand theology as far as it affects the way I live. Continue reading ‘Tis a gift to be complex
by Emily Ralph
He was sitting in a chair with his back to a room full of Mennonite preschoolers. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me as I sat down on the floor next to him, using everything I had in my bag of tricks. I had offered my afternoon to help with the preschool class at Mennonite USA Convention and something drew me to this little loner. Every question I asked was greeted with a shake of his head and a mournful whimper. Continue reading Lessons from the little ones: Building bridges in Pittsburgh
by Emily Ralph
“We didn’t grow up hearing about this,” one of the bishop’s staff members told me.
Some of the leaders gathered at the Southeast Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s assembly had heard about the reconciliation process, but for others, this was a brand new story. “In the 16th century, the early Lutheran reformers, furious that the so-called Anabaptists did not share the same theology of baptism, used their influence and power to persecute Mennonite Christians,” Lutheran Bishop Claire Burkat said. Her words were greeted with an audible response and she nodded her acknowledgement at the horror. Continue reading Perfect Fellowship