We Will Be Okay: what my youth taught me about the future of the Mennonite Church

I returned from Pittsburgh with, like many convention goers, quite a mixed array of experiences, thoughts, and emotions to process. I was energized; I was exhausted, having had the honor of attending convention as both a high school youth sponsor and a Pink Menno organizer.

I was still more or less in this “post-convention daze” when I showed up at Hyattsville Mennonite Church one week after Pittsburgh for our Convention Reflection Sunday. In hearing and re-hearing the stories of my seven high school students, I was left with a clarifying urge:

We Will Be Okay. We, the Mennonite Church, will be okay.

Here’s why.

It is not that it wasn’t okay — the explosion of pink in Pittsburgh, the steady flow in and out of the Hospitality Room, the sound of pink four-part a capella, the fluid boundaries of our circle encompassing singers who might otherwise not have joined our cause but found harmony, the way the skylights made sun descend on us like heaven while the waters rolled like justice under bridges – it was more than okay; it was something divine.

But what grounds my hope for the future of the church? What makes me recommit in a single Sunday to this treacherous mess of Anabaptism?

It is hearing youth who ask honest questions. Youth who digest convention sermons that preach theology very different from their own and, while they might find it disturbing, come away grateful for a chance to get a taste of the “Mennonite buffet.”  Youth who proudly where pink in true community alongside one who comfortably does not. Youth who love both directing hymns and moshing to Christian punk-rock. These are youth willing to live with[in] difference.

We certainly need the movers, the shakers, the agenda-pushers to keep the church going where it needs to go; some of my youth are these movers, as well. But they are also young people who are grounded in a reality of difference in the church, and they are okay with that. In fact they seem more than okay with that – they articulate what is positive in their experience of difference in the church. The different theology of “the other” – or the one among – is not a threat to their Mennonite church. They call it confusing, curious. They are still in community. They are still talking.

If this doesn’t look like Anabaptism, I don’t know what does.

And if this kind of Anabaptist theology shapes the youth who are and will continue to lead our Mennonite body, we will be okay.

~Annabeth Roeschley, Hyattsville Mennonite Church

One comment on “We Will Be Okay: what my youth taught me about the future of the Mennonite Church
  1. Cindy Lapp says:

    Thanks for this Annabeth, sounds like we are in good hands as we move forward. And when we get tired, it sounds like the next generation will help us keep going and take the lead.