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The Unheard Voices of Religion: Mennonites Tim Brown IMG_4121 - John David Thacker is the pastor of Prince of Peace Mennonite Church in East Anchorage. Photo by Tim Brown Full view

The Unheard Voices of Religion: Mennonites

John David Thacker is the pastor of Prince of Peace Mennonite Church in East Anchorage. Photo by Tim Brown
John David Thacker is the pastor of Prince of Peace Mennonite Church in East Anchorage.
Photo by Tim Brown

While often stereotyped by archaic bonnets, hand plows and simple living, the Mennonites have long separated from their Amish counterparts. As Mennonites progressed with the ages, they accepted change and let it transform their image. Today, a Mennonite could look like anyone on the street, at the bus stop or in the grocery store. A passerby would have to ask — not look — in order to discover what they believe.

According to the Third Way Cafe, a Mennonite informational website, some of their basic Christian beliefs include adult baptism, peace, love, community and helping others.

Volunteers from this religion often go to the forefront of natural disasters and into areas of high poverty to help in whatever way they can. John Eshleman, Mennonite Disaster Service member, says they provide these volunteer efforts because the Bible verse James 2:14-17 describes how works and faith in God must accompany each other. Verse 17 in the New International Version translation says, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

John David Thacker, Prince Of Peace Mennonite Church pastor, said, “Mennonite Disaster Service responded to the Miller’s Reach fires in 1996, as well as the 1964 earthquake. After the 2009 Yukon River Floods, volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service rebuilt homes in Eagle and Akiak.”

Thacker also said members of the Mennonite Disaster Service “are currently assessing damage in Galena and Circle following this spring’s flooding and will be responding with volunteer labor to repair and rebuild homes damaged in the flooding. ”

As followers go beyond their doorsteps to help those in need, the Mennonites are also very welcoming and try to accept everyone into their home as well. Even while maintaining an all-inclusive policy, their doors will always remain open to anyone who wants to discover what their religion has to offer.

Contrary to popular belief, this religion isn’t as different from other Christian faith as it may seem. Mennonites celebrate communion, read the Bible and believe in the holy trinity, just like Catholics, Methodists and many other Protestant traditions.

Despite these similarities, what sets this belief apart from any other Christian faith is its pacifist takes on war and violence. Mennonites strongly believe in the phrase, “Love your enemies.”  With this interpretation, they do their best to try and seek understanding through someone else’s eyes. This philosophy also explains why they don’t fight in wars or battles. Instead, they choose to make peace and learn from their enemies’ perspectives.

Learning is precedent everywhere — in religions, schools and even the streets. Although the University of Alaska Anchorage is a higher learning institution, education through the community or even a church can give an individual more insight into some of the hidden curriculum outside state education. So feel free to learn outside of school boundaries and see what faith has to show.

 

The Prince of Peace Mennonite Service welcomes all visitors to join their worship events Sundays at 11:15 a.m. in the resurrection chapel of the Holy Spirit Center at 10980 Hillside Drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Megan Marquis