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Anglicans and Anabaptists

Another interesting comment from Rowan Williams’ recent address focuses on the importance of the Anabaptist/Mennonite churches:

One other crucial focus today is, of course, the act of reconciliation with Christians of the Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition.  It is in relation to this tradition that all the ‘historic’ confessional churches have perhaps most to repent, given the commitment of the Mennonite communities to non-violence.  For these churches to receive the penitence of our communities is a particularly grace-filled acknowledgement that they still believe in the Body of Christ that they have need of us; and we have good reason to see how much need we have of them, as we look at a world in which centuries of Christian collusion with violence has left so much unchallenged in the practices of power.  Neither family of believers will be simply capitulating to the other; no-one is saying we should forget our history or abandon our confession.  But in the global Christian community in which we are called to feed one another, to make one another human by the exchange of Christ’s good news, we can still be grateful for each other’s difference and pray to be fed by it.

This strikes me as one of the few (I can’t think of any others, actually) occasions where I’ve heard someone of such high ecclesiastical office from one of the magisterial traditions take the Free Churches and their vital contributions to Christianity with some amount of non-patronizing seriousness. And for that, I am quite appreciative.


  1. dcl driedger wrote:

    Wow. I agree with your last comment. When I attended an Anglican church (which was known as the fastest growing Mennonite church in Winnipeg) the priest (who studied under Rowan Williams) always said that the Mennonites were met with great disdain in Oxford often compared to one of the historical heresies.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  2. dcl driedger wrote:

    BTW I just posted a brief review of the book you asked about over at memoria dei that included a chapter by Brian H.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  3. David Smith wrote:

    “dcl driedger says…When I attended an Anglican church (which was known as the fastest growing Mennonite church in Winnipeg)”

    Did you mean to write this? I cannot conceive of an Anglican church as a Mennonite church.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  4. dcl driedger wrote:

    Glad you asked. It is a bit of a running joke but see here. See first main article specifically on St. Margaret’s Anglican.
    David Widdicombe is the one who studied under Williams.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  5. dcl driedger wrote:

    weird. that icon just came up.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  6. Brandon wrote:

    Yeah, after so many hasty derisions and patting-to-the-side-of-things, it’s a moment of gentle grace to hear this from no less than an archbishop. Thanks for the link, Halden!

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  7. jonathan wrote:

    I’ve been going to St. M’s in Winnipeg for six years and am still a (somewhat infrequent) member at the Mennonite church I grew up in. I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s rare to find a church that takes seriously the sort of theology I’ve had to struggle through in my degree. And there’s a lot going on there that was attractive to me as a young Mennonite with a curious interest in the orthodox tradition… and a love for liturgical worship.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  8. jonathan wrote:

    Thanks for posting the article. I’d totally forgotten about it.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  9. David Smith wrote:

    Thanks for the quote, Halden, and the URL, dcl driedger. I’ll see that it gets to some who would be interested in it.

    I would appreciate a clarification of the following:
    “For these churches to receive the penitence of our communities is a particularly grace-filled acknowledgement that they still believe in the Body of Christ that they have need of us;”

    I’m guessing:
    1. “For these churches…” = Anabaptist/Mennonite churches
    2. “…the penitence of our communities…” = repentance (kind of, but I’m guessing that God would rather us bluntly use the word “love” instead of penitence.)
    3. “…that they still believe…” I’m assuming the ‘they’ refers to #1 above.
    4. to the end of the sentence. I’m lost. The Mennos I’m with more or less accept other groups as Christian, yes. But just what is being said here?

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  10. Halden wrote:

    I think he’s saying that, as the anabaptist churches receive the repentance of the magisterial churches, this constitutes a gracious acknowledgment that, in the context of being the body of Christ, we truly need each other and acknowledge each other.

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  11. Thanks for posting; this is excellent.

    Monday, July 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  12. Richard Matcham wrote:

    Rowan Williams is a gem in the Church of England’s once glorious crown. I say this as a brother in Christ and a Baptist. Theology rooted in the Trinity. Brilliant.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  13. adhunt wrote:

    Once glorious Richard? I can think of at least 10 pretty substantial and orthodox contemporary theologians who are C of E. Mind you I completely recognize the church as an institution is hugely confused and still shrinking but if they still have a crown there are several more gems that ought to be added.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  14. Aaron R. wrote:

    I just saw this, thanks for posting it–very interesting.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

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