School for Leadership Training: Mennonites and Pentecostalism

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February 28, 2011

Special Training with Nate Yoder consisted of a fascinating walk through a history of Mennonites in the U.S. and their relationship with Pentecostalism.

It explained a lot.

For example, in the 1890s several Mennonite leaders were supporting the concepts and ideas brought up in the Pentecostal movement. Later, there was more resistance, but in the 1960-70s again there was more connection and openness to charismatic and Pentecostal influences.

It's interesting to know about the movements going on in the U.S. and I wonder how that influenced Mennonites in Canada, who were a very different community in some ways, but definitely shared resources and connections with groups in the U.S.

I was also surprised to learn the strong emphasis in early Pentecostalism on racial integration, gender equality, social justice, and even pacifism. It seems the work of the Holy Spirit was understood to have a direct impact on how society should look. This shifted later to an emphasis on the renewal of "America" (referring to the U.S.) as a nation, which suggested a kind of church-state connection quite different from Anabaptist perspectives.

Yoder explored the Methodist - Mennonite relationship too, since Pentecostalism had many similarities with Methodism. There are more connections than I knew.

As in Alan Kreider's metaphor of the polyphonic choir of the body of Christ, each tradition really does have a particular voice that needs to be heard. Sing on.  

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