The recent Mennonite media brought stories of the formation of a new network of individuals who seem to consider themselves more evangelical and more truly Anabaptist than others. Its founders have chosen the name EVANA which combines EVangelical and ANAbaptist.
The president and founder of the association had an unusually broad understanding of evangelical. For him evangelical was not determined as much by belief, as by behavior.
At my first meeting with the SEA I was asked to introduce the Mennonites of Sarasota County. At my second meeting he asked me to explain the nonviolent position of the Mennonites.
I took with me a small cross and a small flag. I maneuvered these small items to demonstrate that a follower of Jesus could be loyal to both flag and cross, unless allegiance to the flag violated the way of the cross. In that event a follower of Jesus should choose to suffer and die. This simple speech evolved into what I believe to be my most widely published article.
The president of the SEA asked me to go with him to meet a lesbian who had asked for an interview. On the way I told him of my experience on the Listening Committee for the Mennonite Church and my change in perspective. (For a fuller account of my faith journey click here.) The lesbian had been a Mennonite and was now trying to find a safe way in the Christian community.
The president of SEA became so distressed by this event that he did the unusual. He conferred with a Catholic priest who told him in effect that traditional views of homosexuality trumped grace. The Catholic Church’s high regard for tradition helped create the Anabaptist rift with the Catholic Church.
In my search for information about this new network, I googled “evana” and discovered it was a girl’s name of Greek origin, and means “peaceful”. The news article about the new EVANA indicates a peaceful intent. But true peace will not come easily.
This leads me to ask questions:
Of what real good will the days of prayer, fasting and repentance be to the Christian community? Will not repentance help us be the answer to the prayer of Jesus that His followers will be one, so that the world may believe on him? Will divisions in the church or unity and love win the world to adopt Jesus-like behavior?