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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Call For Peace

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Non-Profit Organization
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, MCC sent this message to the U.S. government. Please join our prayerful call for peace in Syria.

We urgently call on all governments and parties to the conflict to end the violence in Syria. We condemn in the strongest terms all form...s of violence and war, including missile strikes, use of chemical weapons, targeted acts of violence against civilians, conventional warfare and suicide bombings.

Further militarization of the conflict will only increase the suffering of the Syrian people and the shattering of Syrian society.

We call on all nations to immediately end shipments of military equipment and arms to the Syrian government and to rebel groups, and to increase contributions of food and other humanitarian assistance to civilians in all areas of Syria and to Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, and their host communities.

We call on the international community, and Syrians from all sides, to negotiate with urgency and seriousness an inclusive political solution to the crisis, guaranteeing the rights of all Syrians.

In the name of Christ, we pray and work for peace in Syria.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I heard in the news this week that Germans now have three choices on their child's birth certificates. The child can be identified as either male, female or other. OTHER?? What is other? Puppy, alien, or blueberry pie? How are children supposed to know who they are if the parents aren't even sure what they are?
God created human beings male and female, and every person who ever lived since creation has been one or the other. There has never been a third gender nor will there ever be. I understand the reasoning behind this is to make allowance for transgender people. But how is a parent to know if the child will make such a choice as an adult? And it does not change the fact that he or she was born either male or female.
This is just another step down the road in the confusion of the sexes. It began with men and women disregarding their God-ordained roles. Men did not take their place as leaders and women quickly stepped up to the plate and took over. They left the home and went into the workplace, cut their hair, and wore pants. In the name of equal rights, women assumed positions they were never meant to fill.
The equal rights campaign was extended to the gay community which fought a long hard battle to be recognized as legitimate. Now it looks like transgender people are beating the same drum. Where will this end? God may have to put a stop to it by cleaning house the way He did at Sodom and Gomorrah.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wenger Meeting House

Last evening we went to the dedication of the restored Wenger Meeting House at Jonestown.

This church was built in 1871 for a United Zion congregation on the northwest corner of Hans Wenger's 170-acre farm where a cemetery already existed. Hans and Hannah Wenger emigrated from Germany in 1748 and are believed to be buried in this cemetery. They are a not Leroy's Wenger ancestors but we went anyway because I've often heard of this church but was never there.
The building has been nicely restored inside and out. It was remodeled somewhere along the way and has been returned to the way it appeared in the 1920-30s. Notice the decorative ceiling tiles. Two of them needed to be replaced and the committee was stumped as to where to find matching tiles. While cleaning out the attic they found exactly two matching tiles. So the ceiling is all original.
The United Zion church, founded in 1855, has roots in the Mennonite church. In 1778 a group of Mennonites formed the River Brethren church. They were never part of the Church of the Brethren but got their name from their location near the Susquehanna River. The conservative element of this denomination is still known as River Brethren but the majority of them took the name of Brethren in Christ. In 1855 the Brethren in Christ disagreed on the construction of meeting houses. They had always met in homes and the majority wanted to preserve that tradition. A group who wanted to build a meeting house separated from the Brethren in Christ, built a meeting house, and became known as United Zion's Children (later shortened to United Zion).  About ten years after the split, the Brethren in Christ changed their minds and started building meeting houses too.
The United Zion church has always been smaller than the Brethren in Christ although they are very similar in belief and practice. The United Zion have about a thousand members today to the 24,000 the Brethren in Christ.
The Wenger Meetinghouse remained in use as a United Zion place of worship until the mid-1950s, by which time the congregation had expanded and then dispersed to other area congregations. The meetinghouse saw sporadic use after the mid-1950s. The congregation from nearby Moonshine United Zion Church used the structure in the early 1960s while its own house of worship was being rebuilt following a fire. Thereafter, Wenger Meetinghouse’s main use was for United Zion summer services. The building was eventually sold again in 1977 — this time to the cemetery association. Other than a brief period of rental to an independent congregation during the 1980s, the building fell into disuse until 2004, when the Wenger family began using the meetinghouse for worship and fellowship during their annual reunions, drawing together the descendants of Hans Wenger from across the country.
Unfortunately, by that time the building had begun to show its age and a decision had to be made whether to “fix it up or tear it down,” according to Warren Wenger, a descendant of Hans who has been active in the movement to restore and preserve the old meetinghouse. Thanks to a new slate roof, repointed brickwork, repaired plaster and restored windows and shutters, the Wenger meetinghouse was rededicated last evening at the opening of the 91st annual Wenger reunion.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vacuum In Our Identity

I've been studying the Revolutionary War, how it affected the lives of the Mennonite community, and my ancestors in particular. It is a story that is not very well known by most of us. In his book The Earth Is the Lord's, John Ruth says:
"An astonishing series of incidents, miscellaneously recorded in crumbling documents surviving from the years following 1774, help us realize that . . . [by] 1976, modern American Mennonite had largely forgotten one of the most dramatic chapters in their own story. We read of enormous fines, communal jealousies and confrontations, confiscations of property, whippings, migrations, appeals, dozens of jailings, and even a neighbor's execution. By failing to remember this part of their own story, even conservative Mennonites allowed a vacuum in their own identity, into which could gradually creep the myth of a God-ordained United States of America, born from the matrix of Revolutionary War."

The Second Continental Congress passed the Resolution for Independence on July 2, 1776, on the second vote. The first vote in June resulted in seven colonies for and five against with New York abstaining. The five colonies that did not vote for independence still wanted to reconcile with England by peaceful means. Congress recessed for three weeks, during which time Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Congress reconvened on July 1 and voted again on the Resolution for Independence on July 2. This time twelve colonies voted for it but New York still abstained.
The founding fathers were not committed Christians as they are often portrayed. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist (belief there is a God but He is not involved in the lives of men) and George Washington rarely attended church. The story that he knelt in the snow at Valley Forge to pray is a much of a myth as the cherry tree story.
The Revolutionary War era was a time of great turmoil on the national level and Mennonites were caught in the middle of the conflict, believing it was their duty to obey "the powers that be" but it was not clear who those powers were. They had promised to be loyal to the king. Now a rebel government had risen up and was requiring them to break that promise and change their allegiance. In addition, they were expected to fight with the Continental Army which was a direct violation of their beliefs in the Biblical doctrine of nonresistance.
Other peace churches which found themselves in the same position included the Quakers, Dunkers (Brethren), Schwenkfelders, Moravians, Seventh Day Baptists (Ephrata Cloister), and other smaller groups of sectarians. They paid a price to remain true to their beliefs. And three hundred years later it is largely a forgotten story and a vacuum in our identity.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Grandma's Brag Book

Grandma Brag Books are usually pictures of babies and little grandchildren. I'm extending mine to brag about a little grandson who has grown up into an outstanding young man.
Marcus joined our family in September 1996, about a week after his second birthday. His parents flew to Haiti to pick him up and returned within 24 hours. Foreign adoptions often are long, drawn-out affairs. It was a miracle how everything fell into place so swiftly and they were free to leave.
Marcus was baptized at the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in September 2007. He was homeschooled and graduated this spring. He is interested in a career in the medical field but pondering which path to take in that direction. I'm sure the Lord will direct his steps and show him the way.
We have been blessed to have Marcus in our family the past sixteen years. He has a lot of potential and we will be cheering from the sidelines as he finds his way through life.