In the January 3 issue of Mennonite Weekly Review, Myron Augsberger — president emeritus of Eastern Mennonite University and a much-respected voice within contemporary Anabaptism — proposed his idea for “a fellowship of shalom” among Anabaptist denominations.
Here’s a taste of his proposal:
My vision is for an Alliance of Anabaptists in North America.
Such an alliance would be for fellowship and witness. It could help us make an impact on society in a way that is more than sectarian. It would find a place alongside Mennonite World Conference, which is a gift of God to us and to our brothers and sisters in many lands.
An alliance could help us find unity in diversity and peace amid pressing issues that distract us.
An alliance is not a merger. It permits each group to maintain its uniqueness while extending the hand of fellowship to others.
It means being open to one another, crossing the aisle to those who have withdrawn from us due to convictions that differ from denominational patterns.
Read the whole piece here.
In my opinion, Augsberger’s proposed group sounds like an Anabaptist-flavored National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In fact, his proposal even evokes language used by NAE founders: they too hoped their group would encourage “unity in diversity,” and they firmly asserted that NAE would permit “each group to maintain its uniqueness while extending the hand of fellowship to others.”
Later in the piece, Augsberger offers a list of Anabaptist-related groups who “should make up this alliance,” and includes the Brethren in Christ. I, for one, would be happy to see our denomination join with other Anabaptists for such fellowship.