Read the report on the recent Ecuador Partnership Meetings here
by Kristi Zabriskie
The morning after Election Day five of us from Faith Mennonite Church drove to Cannonball, North Dakota, to support and stand in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We pitched our tents at the Sacred Stones Camp and jumped in where needs were clear: washing dishes, praying, participating in non-violent direct action trainings, observing, sorting clothing and other donations, listening….
I participated in a prayer circle, passing the pipe three times around with songs of “we love you water,” “global healing”and“I owe my Lord a morning song.” I rummaged with a mother and daughter through garbage bags of donations to find skirts, so that the girls would not be yelled at for standing in the sacred circle without them.
Among the piles of garage sale books I found Sherman Alexi’s new Thunder Boy, Jr. with a note from a Native Yale sophomore who wanted the kids of Standing Rock to receive it. I walked the gift over to the school tent where the teacher invited me to read it with a group of children. As we packed up Friday morning, a woman and her little boy came over to our minivan asking if we were the Mennonites. The spot where we camped was about as remote as it could be from the central fire and we had laughed that no one would see the welcoming Faith Mennonite banner on our tent. But this desperate woman had seen it and asked if she could talk with someone. I listened to the harrowing story of their last 24 hours, prayed with them and held four-year old Eli’s hand as the three of us walked to the Medic’s tent together.
Driving out across Minnesota and North Dakota I felt as though we were escaping/fleeing from the post-election reactions. Our pilgrimage allowed us to enter into what felt like an alternative post-apocalyptic community, separate from news feeds about hate crimes and despair. Indigenous leadership has gathered a movement of people profoundly committed to resisting injustice and showing compassionate respect for one another. Their commitment is costly and the conditions are dangerous, but a palpable sense of cooperation and mutual respect has built courage. It was not the Church, but it looked and felt to me something like the Kingdom of Heaven. I continue to be encouraged by the words of our friend Ched Myers in a November 9 email, “Let’s face this moment with courage and grace together in a space that celebrates gospel hope and the way of Jesus through the imperial storm.”
The FMC delegation included: Kristi Zabriskie, Andrew Wright (MCC-Central State Program Director), Josh Miller, Ry Siggelkow, and Dan Leisen.
Do not miss the photos Dan Leisen took at Standing Rock! Find them on the Faith Mennonite FB page.
See also the story of a delegation of Mennonites at Standing Rock
Mennonite groups call for solidarity with Standing Rock
Read the latest newsletter from Peter Wigginton and Felicia Bravo here
At Home Family Devotions
Nurture children’s faith at home this Advent and Christmas through family worship. Find a free, downloadable guide at www.anabaptistfaithformation.org. For use between November 27 and January 6, it includes a daily Bible reading, short litany, songs, hands-on activities and questions to ponder together.
People of all ages enjoy this resource. Churches are encouraged to print copies for families with children ages 4-12. These daily lessons follow the scripture texts and themes to match the worship resources in Leader magazine. --Shana Peachey Boshart
Find the updated book list on our Shalom Readers Book List page. You can also download the list in PDF.
Here is a recording of the first Bible Study webinar, Between Joints and Marrow: An introduction to the art of biblical interpretation. Pass it on!
by S. Roy Kaufman, Salem-Zion Mennonite Church
Salem-Zion Mennonite Church of Freeman, South Dakota, was blessed to have a visit from St. Paul (Minnesota) Hmong Mennonite Church on May 14-15. The two congregations have a long history of fraternal relationships, with occasional visits back and forth for more than a decade. About 15 members of Hmong Mennonite made the long journey from St. Paul for a potluck supper on Saturday night at Salem-Zion. Sunday morning, May 15, the Hmong church brought special music, and Pastor Xeng brought the message. Then the Hmong church served a traditional Asian dinner for Salem-Zion—egg rolls, cabbage roll soup, chicken fried rice, a stir fry with rice, and a tasty tricolor coconut milk dessert with tapioca, jack fruit and palm seed.
We learned that St. Paul Hmong Mennonite has grown rapidly since the arrival of Pastor Xeng about a year and half ago, and now encompasses 27 families with a church family of over 90. The Hmong church sang two songs in the Hmong language but with Western tunes. Pastor Xeng’s message from Matthew 14:22-33, the story of Jesus walking on the water, emphasized the importance of spiritual disciplines in the Christian life and keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. Pastor Xeng, dressed in traditional Hmong garb, preached in Hmong, which was ably translated by one of his members. A Salem-Zion member commented how appropriate it was for us to hear God’s Word in another language on Pentecost Sunday.
It was exciting for us at Salem-Zion to meet and visit with the Hmong members on Saturday evening, most of whom were young adults. They were enthusiastic about their church and were quite articulate in describing the challenges involved in being Hmong Christians here in the United States. Salem-Zion members were invited at the Sunday noon dinner to contribute to the building fund of the Hmong congregation as they seek their own place of worship.
The two congregations have much in common despite their different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Both are ethnic Mennonite congregations for whom maintaining a cultural identity distinct from the dominant American society is part of their expression of Christian faith. Both feel called to be alternative communities of faith within the dominant culture, and through their cultural heritage and Christian faith to be one of those communities of every “tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9) who are being gathered to God’s throne.
Not every element of traditional culture is important or worthy to be preserved, so Hmong Christian communities, like ethnic communities of European heritage, need always to be discriminating about the cultural forms and traditions they will preserve. For new immigrant communities like the Hmong, that is a persistent and on-going process made all the more urgent by their traditional culture’s rapid assimilation into mainstream American society. We learned that these questions of ethnic and faith identity in the context of the dominant American culture are a particular issue for Hmong young adults.
Congregations like Hmong Mennonite and Salem-Zion might both benefit from a more intentional and sustained conversation about how to build authentic and vital alternative communities of faith with a distinctive ethnic heritage in the context of American society.
Multiculturalism does not have to happen only within congregations, admirable and desirable as that is. It can also be expressed between congregations, each with their unique ethnic heritage and traditions, as in these contacts between the Hmong Church of St. Paul and Salem-Zion of Freeman.
Find titles and descriptions for each of the Bible study webinars we will be offering this fall with teacher Meghan Good.
Meghan is teaching pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Arizona. She is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and is currently a doctoral student in “Preaching as Story” at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. In addition to being a passionate preacher and storyteller, she is a frequent speaker around such topics as biblical hermeneutics, emerging Anabaptism, and the church’s generation gap.
Read all about the webinars and RSVP for them on our Bible Study Webinars page under the Resources tab.
Read the latest prayer letter from new MMN Worker, Gloria Showalter here
Central Plains Mennonite Conference
creates settings for our congregations and partners to grow in holistic witness to God's reconciling mission by developing leadership, encouraging fellowship and promoting lifelong discipleship.