Sunday, July 8. 2012 – Assembly Mennonite

The Old Fool planned to go to church at College Mennonite until he heard that son Conrad was going to Forks so he changed his mind and decided to go with him.  Then when the Old Fool heard that Ivan Kauffman was speaking on Catholic and Mennonite church relationships at Assembly Mennonite he changed his mind again and decided to go there.

Assembly Mennonite was new for the Old Fool. He waited in the back of the auditorium as people came in.  He said he was waiting till he knew which was the men’s side and which was the women’s side.  Everyone knew the Old Fool was joking.  Finally he seated himself next to a young woman.  Seconds later another young woman sat next to him.  Her name was Penny, she said, just an ordinary copper penny.  The Old Fool advised her not to say that about herself because she was really made of fine gold. 

In the sharing time, the young woman on the Old Fool’s other side told the congregation that this were her last Sunday with them because she was going home to Zimbabwe.  The Old Fool whispered that he was honored to be seated next to her on her last Sunday and said he wished her well.

Ivan, the speaker, is the son of Jess and Vi Kauffman.  Jess and Vi and the Old Fool  worked together for a year administering the camp program at Lakewood Retreat in Florida. Jess died at Sunnyside and  Vi and Rhoda became close friends and spiritual partners while they lived in neighboring apartments of  Sunnyside Village, Sarasota.  That friendship continued via phone and email after we moved to Goshen.

Ivan’s spiritual pilgrimage took him out of the Mennonite Church and into the Catholic Church and with him deep convictions for the Anabaptist peace stance.  He told us that the Catholic Church no longer affirms the just war theory and is looking to the Mennonites for help in the development of a more appropriate approach to war.

The relationship between the two groups is growing closer.  Ivan has a photo of an embrace between Pope John XXIII and Paul Kraybill, a school mate of Rhoda’s and a friend of the Old Fool.  The name for the meetings between Mennonites and Catholics is Bridgefolk. At the next Bridgefolk meeting the group will celebrate a Mennonite style communion service followed by a Catholic mass. Everyone present will participate in both ceremonies.



About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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