The global expansion of Mennonite and other Anabaptist churches in recent decades has not come at the expense of their emphasis on peacemaking and conflict resolution; in fact, such values are important in spawning “neo-Anabaptist” networks existing outside of official Mennonite bodies, writes John D. Roth in the current issue of Mennonite Quarterly Review (April). Roth counters the view of some historians that Mennonite missionaries have downplayed their tradition’s pacifism and preached a generic evangelical message. He argues that especially in recent years, the peacemaking dimension of these churches has been an important part of their global appeal. He notes that between 1980 and 2014, membership in the global Anabaptist-Mennonite nearly tripled—increasing from 600,000 to 1.7 million, with the most growth registered in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The globalization of the Anabaptist peace witness has been facilitated by such international relief agencies as the Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite World Conference and various foreign exchange programs with Mennonite colleges.
Recent networks have formed over Anabaptist teachings on peace and conflict resolution among Christians from different churches. For instance, the Anabaptist Network in the United Kingdom has grown to 1,500 affiliates since the 1990s, and holds conferences on issues of peace and social justice. Similar networks and congregations not directly affiliated with Mennonite and other Anabaptist denominations, such as indigenous renewal movements in Korea and China, have formed among hundreds of pastors interested in the historic peace message. New churches that have more formal connections to Mennonites have often developed in settings of regional conflict. While not all Mennonite churches have embraced an activist stance, they have gained a reputation as “honest brokers” in Muslim-Christian conflicts in Africa and trauma healing and reconciliation programs in Latin America, according to Roth
(Mennonite Quarterly Review, https://www.goshen.edu/mqr/)