by Jennie Wintermote, WDC Resource Library Director

In the popular booklet “What is an Anabaptist Christian?” by Palmer Becker (published by Mennonite Mission Network and available on their website), Becker writes that the core values of Anabaptist Christians can be summarized in the following three statements:

  1. Jesus is the center of our faith.
  2. Community is the center of our lives.
  3. Reconciliation is the center of our work.

You can read the booklet or Becker’s full-length book (Anabaptist Essentials: 10 Signs of a Unique Christian Faith) for a detailed exploration of these statements, but I wonder what these values look like in practice in our current time of global pandemic, increasing recognition of racial injustice, and political polarization.

On page 9 of the booklet, Becker writes, “The New Testament church provided an alternate way of living to both the religious and political realities of that day.”  How might our congregations provide an alternate way of living?  How are we finding new ways to ground ourselves in Jesus?  What does community look like in the midst of separation, isolation, and division?  How do we reorient our work toward reconciliation when life looks and feels so different (and out of control)?

I certainly don’t have any answers to these questions, but I DO think that as Anabaptist Christians, we have light to offer a dark and fearful world.  How can we model a life centered on Jesus, lived in community, and always seeking reconciliation?

In my own context I think of the good work churches are doing to connect in worship, and through Bible study and small groups that seek to continue forming individuals as disciples of Jesus (and I have plenty of suggestions of resources to recommend to help with this in a variety of settings!)  I think about new ways of bringing us together in community when we are apart–technology is a wonderful tool, but even a simple phone call or letter, just to check in and to say “you are remembered” helps build community and remind others of their place in community and of their beloved cherished-ness.  Finally, there is much that is broken in our world; reconciliation is needed within families, communities and nationally as we recognize the destruction present.  If we see this as our work, how might we join God in bringing lasting change and wholeness?

I know there is so much uncertainty in our lives, but what would it mean if we continue to ground ourselves in the idea that: Jesus is the center of our faith, community is the center of our lives, and reconciliation is the center of our work?