Mennonite Brethren reconcile with German Mennonites
MB statement says, ‘Unloving patterns of behavior and perception were sinful.’by Benji Wiebe (mennonews.de), translated by Liesa Unger
Mennonite Brethren churches in Detmold, Germany, are seeking reconciliation with Mennonite churches. On May 24, during 150th anniversary celebrations, Mennonite Brethren church officials read a statement asking for forgiveness for spiritual arrogance, pride and lack of love, for excluding brothers and sisters from their community as well as for a contemptuous attitude toward other Mennonite churches. Their common desire is to be open to communication and opportunities for cooperation.
The following people read the statement: Walter Jakobeit, chair of Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Brüdergemeinden, Johann Richert, chair of Bund Taufgesinnter Gemeinden, and Silke Brohl, chair of Verband der Evangelischen Freikirchen Mennonitischer Brüdergemeinden in Bayern.
Representatives of several Mennonite conferences gave short responses. Hermann Heidebrecht, Bielefeld, Germany, chair of Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur geistlichen Unterstützung in Mennonitengemeinden, expressed joy about this "small step" and emphasized that Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren churches seek the same goal and have had a common desire for peace in the past.
Daniel Janzen, speaking for WEBB (independent Mennonite congregations), said that cooperation is possible as it has been for many years on the board of Bienenberg Bible School.
Frieder Boller, chair of Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Gemeinden in Deutschland, gave thanks for the newly opened door and encouraged communication.
The statement said that in preparing for this 150th anniversary and while writing the church’s history, people became aware once more of God’s kindness and mercy. Since 1860, Mennonite Brethren churches and other Mennonite congregations have crossed paths many times. Both denominations experienced renewal, mission and growth and at this anniversary, both sides could thank and praise God for his kindness and mercy.
It noted that 50 years ago at Reedley, Calif., the North American Mennonite Brethren Church and General Conference Mennonite Church asked for and granted each other forgiveness and celebrated reconciliation.
The statement confessed that old, unloving patterns of behavior and perception were sinful and expressed sorrow and regret for pride, unkindness and hurtful exclusion of other Mennonite brothers and sisters.
The statement signed by church officials concluded with, "Our future cooperation and community has to be guided by fraternal love following the commandment of Christ and by mutual appreciation. As an independent congregational movement we intend to be open to resolving communication and to opportunities for cooperation."
In a concluding prayer, Hans von Niessen, former director of Umsiedlerbetreuung, asked God for forgiveness and blessings.
Following the prayer, church representatives on stage joined hands while the audience expressed their agreement with applause.
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