We know that young people are faced with unique challenges, about big issues, and have lots of questions. Your families, friends and congregations can help you figure this stuff out, but Mennonite Church USA can also help. There are links to info that generations of discerning Mennonites have figured out over the years — and also to what we are still learning about today!
We want to always speak openly and honestly as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus, whether you are a teenager; have teenagers; or work with teenagers… Tough issues mean tough questions. How we talk each other, on any of these issues, can be as important as the issue itself. We encourage you to explore these issues and discover what God is continuing to do in the world around us!
“When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” (Common English Bible)
Mennonite Church USA’s statement on immigration
Mennonite Church USA has roots in seventeenth-century churches planted by immigrants from Europe. Our church continues to grow and be enlivened by immigrants who join us from many countries. As Christians, we believe we are called to welcome these sojourners in our congregations and communities, especially as our government creates increasingly harsh immigration laws in the name of fighting terrorism. Assumptions about identity make some people more vulnerable to political biases and discrimination than others. Our concerns about the status of immigrants in this country relate to how people are treated based on race, nationality, ethnicity, and religious identity.
We reject our country’s mistreatment of immigrants, repent of our silence, and commit ourselves to act with and on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, regardless of their legal status.
More Immigration Resources
Mennonite Church USA doesn’t have a specific statement on materialism, though Mennonite groups in America have traditionally done a lot of work promoting a life of simplicity. Our position may be best summarized by the words of Jesus Christ himself.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” New International Version (NIV)
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you not to worry about your life! Don’t worry about having something to eat or wear. Life is more than food or clothing. Look at the crows! They don’t plant or harvest, and they don’t have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds. Can worry make you live longer? If you don’t have power over small things, why worry about everything else? Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t he do even more for you? You have such little faith! Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father knows what you need. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.
Mennonite Church USA doesn’t have a specific statement on poverty, though Mennonite groups in America have traditionally done a lot of work on behalf of the world’s poor. Our positions may be best summarized by the words of Jesus Christ himself.
Matthew 25: 44-45
Then the people will ask, “Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?” The king will say to them, “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.” Contemporary English Version (CEV)
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’ New International Version (NIV)
All parts of Mennonite Church USA, united in vision and purpose, are committed to seven, churchwide priorities between now and 2020. These priorities were approved by the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board in 2006 and include witness, leadership development, global connections and anti-racism.
In regards to anti-racism, the statement says “We will honor the dignity and value of all Racial/Ethnic people in Mennonite Church USA, ensuring just and equitable access to church resources, positions and information as manifestations of the one new humanity in Christ.”
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. Sons of God You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The two conferences that joined together to form Mennonite Church USA released statements in 1986 and 1987 on the topic of human sexuality.
Both the former Mennonnite Church and General Conference statements began with the same affirmation:
“We affirm that sexuality is a good and beautiful gift of God, a gift of identity, and a way of being in the world as male and female.”
The statements continue with slightly different wording, but take a thoughtful and discerning look at appropriate sexual relationships, sexism and other prejudices as well as a committment to study Biblical teachings together to expand our insight into a mature, Christian view of sexuality.
The Environment… we all live in it… we all hear many stories and updates on what is happening in it… But what do we believe about caring for the environment?
“We believe that God has created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and that God preserves and renews what has been made. All creation has its source outside itself and belongs to the Creator. The world has been created good because God is good and provides all that is needed for life.” (Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, article 5.)
There are some great resources on care for the environment. Here are some links to get your conversation with youth started!
More Environment Resources
CONFESSION OF FAITH IN A MENNONITE PERSPECTIVE, 1995
Article 22. Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance
“We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God’s peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing nonresistance even in the face of violence and warfare.
Although God created a peaceable world, humanity chose the way of unrighteousness and violence. The spirit of revenge increased, and violence multiplied, yet the original vision of peace and justice did not die. Prophets and other messengers of God continued to point the people of Israel toward trust in God rather than in weapons and military force.
The peace God intends for humanity and creation was revealed most fully in Jesus Christ. A joyous song of peace announced Jesus’ birth. Jesus taught love of enemies, forgave wrongdoers, and called for right relationships.  When threatened, he chose not to resist, but gave his life freely.  By his death and resurrection, he has removed the dominion of death and given us peace with God. Thus he has reconciled us to God and has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation…”