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  • Direction: Comanches and Mennonites on the Oklahoma Plains: A. J. and Magdalena Becker and the Post Oak Mission
    of the Post Oak Mission that Abraham J and Magdalena Becker were exceptions to the generalized historical notion of missionaries as self righteous and misguided individuals who destroyed Native American cultures under the guise of Christianity and civilization vi The Beckers expected their Indian converts to adopt a Christian lifestyle but they never pressed the Comanches to abandon their tribal heritage Because of A J and Magdalena Becker s long tenure at Post Oak the history of the mission is a chronicle of their lifework Post Oak existed as a foreign mission from 1895 to 1959 at which time it became an independent Mennonite Brethren church The Beckers arrived in 1902 and served until their deaths Magdalena in 1938 and A J in 1953 Together they were missionaries administrators and in Magdalena s case a field matron for the Indian Service While Kroeker demonstrates that both were selfless workers and advocates for Indian rights he identifies Magdalena as the key member of the missionary couple She was fluent in the Comanche language and it was her concern for tribal women and willingness to work alongside them that made possible the initial inroads into Comanche society The Comanches themselves including Chief Quanah Parker trusted the Beckers and recognized that they were sympathetic to Indian concerns This more than anything else explains the success of Post Oak Nevertheless one must question Kroeker s contention that the 93 Beckers missionary efforts were not destructive to Comanche cultural traditions Francis Paul Prucha and others have shown that it was the best intentions of missionaries and other reformers that proved most detrimental to Indian cultures While the Beckers displayed a remarkable level of tolerance they insisted that the Comanches give up dancing peyote and other cultural traditions that offended Mennonite sensibilities In the Beckers version

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  • Direction: The Ten Commandments and Christian Community
    and an epilogue The prologue introduces the reader to the idea of a covenant community A chapter is devoted to each of the Ten Commandments plus Jesus new commandment in John 13 34 to love one another The epilogue reminds the reader of the importance of a stable community in a chaotic world Within each chapter Marshall first examines what is prohibited by the commandment under discussion Then he suggests a positive principle which he believes is the basis for the commandment Each chapter also contains numerous examples illustrating the points he is making Some of Marshall s claims are illuminating and challenging For 94 instance in discussing the third commandment You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God Marshall suggests that this means disciples of Jesus should claim that God endorses only things you are certain God endorses In our era of increased Christian political involvement this is a helpful reminder However Marshall s attempt to discover the principle behind the text results in two problems First while the biblical commandments have specific content to them Marshall s restatements too often give no direction about what a person should actually do Marshall s commandments become very general For instance Jesus new commandment to love one another is restated as Love is an active verb Similarly the fourth commandment Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy is restated as Relax frequently in the divine presence and let God rejuvenate your life The fifth commandment instructs us to honor our father and our mother Marshall only tells us to cultivate real relationships based on honesty and integrity The second problem with Marshall s project is akin to the problem associated with the search for the historical Jesus What lies behind the text is often the contemporary or

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  • Direction: The Work of Their Hands: Mennonite Women's Societies in Canada
    purposes and activities of these groups within the wider spectrum of Canadian Christianity Despite a few technical glitches The Work of Their Hands is well laid out and quite easy to read There is a date on p 28 that should read 1845 rather than 1945 There are some rather odd spellings for German words on pp 30 and 45 The many graphs and charts enable the reader to see the sources of Redekop s analysis and conclusions It is to be hoped that scholars and lay men and women will read this book Scholars will want to interact with Redekop s hypothesis that the women s societies formed a kind of parallel church for the women who participated Young women will find the book helpful in determining the role they would like to play in the church I suspect that the women who belong to these societies will have something further to say to this subject as well and their responses would make an interesting sequel to this book Redekop detects a change from a service by doing emphasis to a fellowship and spiritual growth emphasis This shows up with a change in priorities and in name changes One needs to ask if the understanding of spiritual growth and fellowship has also changed Is spiritual growth and fellowship really more important now or has there been a change in understanding what that means In an earlier era women may have seen working together as a way to promote spiritual growth and fellowship as they understood it at that time Redekop has also documented a decline in emphasis on mission in the priorities activities and group names One needs to ask if there is a relationship between frequent deficits in mission board budgets and this change in emphasis within women

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  • Direction: Mennonites in American Society, 1930-1970: Modernity and the Persistence of Religious Community
    but have allowed it in certain contexts and for certain purposes Yet Toews heart is really with the other response to modernity that of people he names the progressives In contrast to the traditionalists progressives comprising the bulk of the GC MC and MB laity and leadership felt that a legitimate sense of Mennonite peoplehood could 97 exist nearer to the center of society rather than on its margins In doing so they preserved their sense of community through ecumenical institutional and ideological means While capable of solid and engaging social history it is especially this third means that is developed most carefully because of the author s basic approach as an intellectual historian In the bulk of this book he traces in great detail the contours of progressive Mennonite thought in the twentieth century His chapter on the Mennonite experience in the depression for example presents vivid sketches of the tensions between tradition and change in several representative Mennonite congregations and also summarizes what the economic crisis meant for Mennonite women and youth Yet Toews predilection for intellectual history soon reasserts itself as he turns to examine in separate chapters Mennonite fundamentalism and the search for a usable past To Toews Mennonite fundamentalism was a transitional theology Churches would build stronger doctrinal foundations than fundamentalism could afford they were soon to substitute ideological boundaries for vanishing social ones This ideological flowering was best represented by MC leader Harold Bender s statement of The Anabaptist Vision Through it Toews argues Anabaptism rather than fundamentalism came to define the center of twentieth century American Mennonites pp 86 87 This vision along with accompanying statements by Guy Hershberger War Peace and Nonresistance provided a center place between complete social engagement and complete social withdrawal where these progressives could root the new Mennonite community Though not without challenges Toews is careful to explore the critique of the Concern pamphlets movement for instance such statements represented the triumph of the progressive Mennonite vision Toews is also careful to explore the ecumenical and institutional expressions of this vision They were manifested in exemplary fashion in the Civilian Public Service CPS system of World War II a development he analyzes with care and also in later efforts evolving from the CPS system Mennonite Voluntary and Disaster Services MVS MDS Mennonite Mental Health Services and the postwar growth of Mennonite Central Committee When he bends to the task of social history Toews is very good at it He touches on the experience of Mennonite women during the war and sketches out something of the postwar socioeconomic revolution that transformed the Mennonite world Yet his narrative proceeds primarily along the level of intellectual developments He provides a careful treatment of how Mennonites conceptualized their service in the war and brought forth a new service consciousness from it 98 The war reinforced patterns of Mennonite deference to the state but also provided greater ideological particularity p 182 In the immediate postwar years Mennonites tried to balance separation and engagement

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  • Direction: From the Editor: Looking Back Toward the Future
    of a new General Editor The journal has a new look about its cover as well as change in its interior layout There is a new department Ministry Compass which will especially devote itself to practical ministry concerns and interests It is inaugurated by Gaylord Goertzen who investigates the value of pastoral journals We continue to include current research from faculty of the supporting institutions and books recommended in regard to the present theme While we intend to retain a thematic focus for each issue we are also open to unsolicited writing and hope in each issue to include quality work on other topics as well The Editorial Council has also looked forward not only to the perennial question of upcoming themes and authors but also to additional possibilities for the journal s ministry In the past attempts to motivate letters to the editor or other written responses to Direction s contents produced little results Perhaps an electronic bulletin board 3 would help us better hear from one another For the present note the editors e mail addresses on the inside cover Should the journal itself be made available on the World Wide Web More fundamentally how do those among Direction s constituency understand its purpose It professes to provide a forum hence the new subtitle on the cover Is it important for us to converse with one another on matters biblical theological educational and ecclesiological in the broadest senses of those terms If it is important how might we best do this both within the denomination and beyond Should Direction strive to provide a vehicle for Mennonite Brethren schools to speak with a united voice to the churches and to point the way theologically as Professor Martens describes Does the concept of a forum suggest something less unified a

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  • Direction: Anniversary Reminiscences about Direction
    6 offer this journal to those laymen and ministers who are willing to listen to each other and to think prayerfully together on the sort of questions described in the article which follows That article by Wiens The Questions We Face touched on the theological question of biblical authority the ecclesiastical issue of the church s nature and mission and the sociological question of denominational ethnicity see reprint this issue Ed Wiens stated p 7 Our diversity is our problem and our challenge Deliberations in committee sometimes began with a list of persons whose contributions we would welcome But our intention was to grapple with significant church issues either latent or blatant in the church constituency Examples include Women in the Work of the Church 9 1 1980 Mission and Pluralism 23 1 1994 Music in Worship 22 2 1993 The editor served to implement the editorial council s collaborative planning THE SHAPING PROCESS In 1989 the general format was augmented in the following ways Articles would now be written around a given theme and there would be more of them since by this date the periodical was larger usually more than one hundred pages and appeared biannually An assistant editor Richard Kyle of Tabor College now directed the Book Review section In addition three more features were added Books I Recommend related to the theme Current Research and Historical Endnotes The last was provided by members of the denomination s Historical Commission The section Current Research contained the titles of theses prepared for the Master of Arts degree largely but not exclusively by students at the Seminary This section also included abstracts of doctoral dissertations on religion by faculty or constituency members Back of these changes were certain convictions The journal had a network function scholars within the denomination at the least had a way to know of each other s work It had a ministry function the readership included graduates of our schools who needed on going education faculty and specialists could offer guidance by recommending pertinent literature The journal also had an identity giving function Apart from news sheets and the occasional books the denomination s historical commission did not have a publication Direction could offer print space and did The two part series on the translation of Abram Unger s writings 19 2 1990 and 20 1 1991 is a good example So is the earlier essay The History of the Bekker Manuscript 3 3 1974 243 48 Abe Dueck presented a bibliography of significant books on Anabaptism 7 4 4 1975 378 80 The theme articles were often treated from the perspective of biblical theology rather than one of systematic theology philosophy or history Still in looking back it is with some embarrassment to see how little despite the denomination s much touted emphasis on the Bible viz Mennonite Brethren Bible College Pacific Bible Institute Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary the journal reflects biblical exegetical work Richard Thiessen s fascinating bibliometric study of the journal shows

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  • Direction: The Questions We Face
    real questions are or how they should be formulated We welcome the response of our readers What have we missed On what issues would you welcome and contribute to a discussion THE QUESTION OF ANSWERS That teachers are not the only ones who should formulate the questions was made clear when I asked a veteran pastor and conference leader what was our biggest problem He thought for awhile and then responded You may think this is silly but the biggest problem we face today is that of dishonesty Once upon a time we could sit together and disagree openly and vigorously until before the Scriptures we found an answer But now we can sit and talk and talk and get up and still not know what the other one really thinks Once stated this has the shock of truth If we cannot trust each other and be open then no problem can be fruitfully addressed And then the attempt to probe important issues can only lead to greater division instead of to reconciliation and healing Why is it then that we do not trust each other In the past our people were almost all quite similar They shared a German culture and a common Russian homeland They were farmers and lived around small villages They shared a common worldview When they came to a problem they all could understand it in the same way And they all were agreed on what sort of response could count as an answer Even their differences reflected a deeper agreement on the nature and validity of what was being debated DIVERSITY AMONG US None of this can any longer be taken for granted We are no longer alike Almost any congregation or any group of brethren contains individuals with widely different worldviews One may in fact make a case for the thesis that Mennonite churches tend to contain members with a more diverse range of vocational cultural and educational backgrounds than is normal in the sort of evangelical churches with whom we most easily identify When the normal evangelical moves to a new community he will likely try first a church of the same denomination as was the one that he left But if the members of this new church reflect a different cultural 13 or educational level than his he is quite likely to shop around until he finds a congregation which he recognizes as like minded whatever denomination it belongs to Moreover if a member of such a congregation raises his culture or educational status he often changes his affiliation The result is that any given congregation tends to be composed of people who are very like each other They share a single worldview Members of strong ethnic groups however have many reasons to remain in a congregation which has ties to the ethnic tradition which they share Many of these ties have nothing to do with theology Indeed they are often stronger than mere theological agreement Reasons to stay with the

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  • Direction: The Karaganda Mennonite Brethren Church: A Requiem?
    Mennonite population rapidly increased Tensions increased as they swelled the ranks of the Karaganda Baptist Church The local presbyter Ivan Yevstratenko ruled authoritatively and insisted on carefully submitting to government authorities who scrutinized members ministers and even sermon content The returning Mennonite exiles congregational in temperament and long accustomed to challenging the prevailing system now began to hold their own special house services in connection with funerals and birthday celebrations 19 Stress and disagreements associated with these and other issues came to a head when a group of Mennonite dissidents left the Baptist Church on December 15 1956 4 Fortunately the secession coincided with the release of two experienced Mennonite Brethren ministers One was the frequently imprisoned minister Dietrich Pauls now aged seventy The second David Klassen also ordained was subsequently appointed as elder of the fledgling congregation Not long after four additional ministers were elected and ordained By the end of 1958 membership in the dissident group neared one thousand thanks to widespread revival during 1957 58 and the steady return of exiles to Karaganda Initially the rapidly expanding congregation met in various private homes 5 GOVERNMENT HARASSMENT Meanwhile police pressure remained constant and unrelenting In the summer of 1962 three leaders Heinrich Zorn Heinrich Wiebe and elder David Klassen were arrested and tried Shortly after their co worker Otto Wiebe was arrested and sentenced to four years an imprisonment he did not survive 6 The scattered congregation continued to function in secrecy as best it could simultaneously meeting in as many as ten private homes in the suburbs Prayer meetings and Bible studies now sustained the spiritual heartbeat of the hard pressed congregation For some the pressure was more than they could bear They sought safety from harassment by joining the nearby Kopai Baptist congregation which operated under the protection of the AUCECB This action as the ancient church experienced in the mid third century persecutions of emperor Decius divided the congregation into those who did and those who didn t Some it was felt were unwilling to bear the cross of Christ A QUESTION OF ALIGNMENT Matters became even more complex for the emerging Brethren church Its original secession from the local Baptist church in 1956 sought to address the question of an inadequate gospel Among other things communist authorities had banned the preaching of repentance and conversion as well as the attendance of young people In 1963 a group within the AUCECB began to clamor for reform and an end to cooperation with atheistic authorities Soon the Karaganda Baptist church led by the presbyter Pyotr Posharizky began to function along reform lines A few leaders among the struggling Brethren now wondered whether it was not appropriate to once again cooperate or even rejoin the Baptists 20 7 The struggle within the Karaganda Mennonite Brethren Church intensified Two influential leaders convinced some members to rejoin the Baptists and soon some two hundred applications were processed Anticipating an imminent amalgamation the Baptist presbyter allowed German language services on Sunday afternoons attended by both Mennonites and German speaking Baptists and served by ministers from both congregations All the while even though state officials and Baptist church authorities demanded unification Brethren opposition to the planned merger intensified Finally in March 1965 the Brethren responded with a decisive no Only special meetings and a spirit of reconciliation prevented a permanent breach One thing was clear the Brethren church would go its own way THE PROCESS OF GOVERNMENT REGISTRATION A special membership meeting on May 28 1965 drafted an eleven point memorandum signifying the group s intention of reinstating the Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia An interim executive of four was elected to coordinate church activities in each of four districts In November 1965 a poll of the entire congregation generated 703 names all of whom were intent on joining an independent Brethren church However enthusiastic and determined the young church may have been it had to contend with formidable difficulties Under Soviet law it was an illegal organization and so all its activities were carried on in secrecy 8 Less than a year after its organizational vote the AUCECB invited the congregation to send two delegates to its forthcoming Baptist Congress The invitation was accepted The two delegates Wilhelm Matthies and Heinrich Woelk even voted at the congress an action they later regretted While in Moscow inquiries were also made with the AUCECB executive and the government Council for Religious Affairs regarding an independent registration for the Mennonite Brethren Church At this point there were relatively few Mennonites desiring a peoplehood separate from the Baptists a fact which became painfully clear during the sessions of the Congress An unauthorized member of their own church petitioned the Congress to squelch any request for an independent registration of the Karaganda Brethren His petition was signed by prominent German Baptists many of whom still carried Russian Mennonite names A well articulated appeal by Wilhelm Matthies nevertheless convinced the General Assembly to give its approval to the independent existence of the Mennonite Brethren Church 9 In 1967 negotiations with the Council on Religious Affairs in 21 Moscow finally brought assurances that the Karaganda Mennonite Brethren could be registered apart from the AUCECB Official approval was given on April 28 1967 but not before the congregation drafted a constitution and a confession of faith all within forty eight hours For its statement of belief the Karaganda church relied on the 1902 Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith 10 Now the church leaders petitioned officials for permission to build a church which was granted in Moscow on September 3 1968 Construction began two days later A building capable of seating five hundred people stood complete by the end of November and was dedicated on December 15 1968 11 The completion of the project required over one hundred meetings between church representatives and various levels of government MOTIVATION TO BE A SEPARATE PEOPLE Why did some one thousand Mennonite Brethren and at least three hundred Old Church Mennonites separate from the Russian Baptists who had provided shelter and spiritual nurture during their dispersion and exile The question of cultural identity was certainly of paramount importance In the prerevolutionary Russian Empire Mennonites formed a distinct peoplehood characterized by self enclosed villages distinct languages and time honored folk customs They further enhanced their sense of belonging by participating in joint Bible conferences ministerial courses song festivals and even All Mennonite congresses During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the flow of cultural and religious material from Germany continued to mold their ethnic and spiritual identity Their secure sense of peoplehood was not destined to last Anti German sentiments escalated during the course of the first World War the German occupation of the Ukraine in 1918 and Hitler s invasion in 1941 The last vestiges of Mennonite cohesion vanished with their forced deportation to Central Asia and Siberia in 1941 the induction of women into Stalin s Work Army in 1942 and the long duration of the Spetskomandantura Collectively their experience was degrading and dehumanizing War time propaganda further ensured a deep seated anti German antagonism among the general population which often spilled over into the world of the everyday Karaganda Mennonite Brethren church records suggest a high level of discomfort in being surrounded by a completely Russian religious environment As soon as it became possible German Baptists and Mennonites joined together in the Russian Baptist Church for German services on Sunday afternoon For some German sermons and hymns were part of their 22 spiritual formation and they were reluctant to part with what was personal and familiar Others may have unconsciously rejected a Slavic identity which they regarded as culturally inferior to their own THEOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVES Though the question of cultural identity was important most of the issues separating the Karaganda Mennonites from their Baptist friends were of a theological nature They interpreted their Bibles differently In the early days of the Karaganda affiliation Brethren leaders were already distressed that the registered Baptists accommodated to state pressure by not preaching repentance and conversion The Karaganda records occasionally refer to the AUCECB as Weltkirche an obvious reference to its cooperation with the atheistic state 12 These sentiments were partially shared by a group within the Russian Baptists the Initsiativniki who broke away from the AUCECB on the issue of church state separation and organized the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists CCECB They like some of the Mennonites had found spiritual nourishment and shelter within the Baptist fold only to discover that their relative immunity from communist harassment involved cooperation with the state The notion that the AUCECB was compromising the Gospel went beyond its liaison with government authorities The registered Baptists Brethren leaders felt were not fully embodying the Gospel Since their beginnings in 1860 Brethren interacted with both German and Russian Baptists yet tenaciously resisted amalgamation Though they agreed on issues like conversion and the meaning of baptism and the Lord s Supper there had always been some unresolved issues Menno Simons rejected the oath advocated non resistance and insisted on the separation of the church and the state His memory was not forgotten among the Karaganda Brethren There were other concerns the need for church discipline an active living of the way of the cross 13 regular Bible studies and prayer meetings the priesthood of all believers which vested ultimate authority in the congregation 14 and lifestyle issues which needed careful definition and regulation 15 Church members lived in submission to one another admonished and encouraged each other attended services regularly and lived simply and modestly 16 EMERGING IDENTITY In part the emerging sense of Brethren identity was forged by perceived Baptist shortcomings Yet now that they stood alone the Karaganda Brethren were obligated to generate a vision of how things should 23 be As they thought of what they wished to become they perhaps unwittingly began to reflect on what they had been Perhaps they heard the sound of distant drums summoning them to the past Three decades ago they still possessed their own culture language and church Now when the opportunity to rebuild presented itself the old blueprints were still available Authoritative models of what it meant to be the church were lodged in the experiences and memories of the past Many women but comparatively few men had survived the Soviet holocaust During the worst years of dispersion and terror women through evening house meetings ensured some continuity of spirituality and Bible knowledge among the children and youth During the 1950s ministers returning from the exile camps now claimed ownership of this spiritual legacy Regrettably male memories were deemed authentic while female ones were set aside The reconstruction of the Karaganda Brethren Church depended essentially on the memories and possible prejudices of a few aging ministers ordained in the 1920s and early 1930s Dislocation and exile left the majority of parishioners with limited Bible knowledge and no experience in the everyday realities of church life An entire generation had been deprived of instruction in matters of faith and practice Confronted by the difficult task of spiritual reconstruction they found conformity to the past comforting and reassuring Gradually the entire prerevolutionary legacy of the Brethren was reintroduced into the Karaganda church theology organization and lifestyle definitions as well as customs and liturgies The authority of the past it seemed was absolute Old leaders guaranteed continuity and provided authoritative guidance for new practices and structures This best explains the pervasive concern with the laying on of hands by those who themselves were once ordained Experience taught inexperience while ancient wisdom guided newly emerging ministers and deacons 17 ANXIETIES The Karaganda church documents betray a sense of anxiety about fully embodying the Gospel and about exemplifying a correct Christian lifestyle They reflect a concern with minutely defining tasks and obligations with detailing polity processes and procedures Why the need for regulation and control Why did a people emerging from captivity and exile enslave themselves by excessive legalism Russian Mennonites living in Karaganda had experienced the total loss of everything familiar and dear to them Torn from their economic social and religious moorings through revolution and war they found 24 themselves isolated in the northern prison camps or scattered among the collective farms of Asiatic and Slavic peoples Many leaders understood this In a preamble introducing some guidelines for the emerging congregational life among the Karaganda Brethren one of them wrote Mennonites lived in closed villages for centuries in part because they were despised by others in part because they did not wish to mix with the world Over time their firm faith in their Redeemer their confession of faith and their principles of church governance produced enduring practices and customs which distinguished them from other nations and religious groups More recently our people have endured a difficult period which though rich in spiritual experience not only threatened all its customs but the very life of the people themselves The greatest crisis in the more recent experiences of our people began when their traditional economic and social systems were assailed Not long after all the influential men among our people were taken away Then their families were torn from their homes and scattered among backward peoples How could valued customs and traditions survive under these circumstances 18 Now came the opportunity to restore what had been lost to honor a holy legacy from the past and restore it to its former glory FAMILY LIFE AND RITUALS On the question of family life the guidelines were exacting no family member should be missing at meal time children were to remain silent during the meal the meal itself was of short duration Furthermore children did not visit in the same room as adults nor did any family member stay out beyond 10 p m Mennonite family life was characterized by punctuality frugality simplicity and unpretentiousness There was another essential to the Mennonite concept of the family many children were an honor to the parents Again and again the instruction manual appeals to the authority of past patterns and models 19 There were similar concerns regarding engagements and weddings Courtships following a public engagement should be brief While the wedding was a family festivity the ceremony itself was a church affair and hence the need for moderation Ostentatious display whether it focused on bridal gowns or elaborate dinners was not in keeping with ancient custom 20 Nor did the forbearers know anything about groomsmen or bridesmaids Let the two walk down the aisle together while the choir sang 25 Gott gruesse dich 21 Two sermons detailed marriage vows prayers choir songs the wedding meal an after dinner program with its poems and presentations the Brethren order of the 1920s sufficed for the 1970s 22 Funerals were likewise characterized by the reading and preaching of the Word and the quiet shedding of sympathetic tears Three to four sermons were regarded as normative The last speaker also read the obituary Congregational singing accompanied the coffin to its final resting place Here the coffin was opened once more for the last painful good byes A short graveside service concluded with prayer Then the coffin was closed and slowly lowered into the grave When it was covered with earth a final prayer was offered and a closing hymn sung Mourners then gathered for a modest meal One thing was certain eulogies and brass bands common practices in Soviet society had no place when the quiet in the land buried their dead 23 What was the role of music in worship There were many acceptable forms of musical expression solos duets quartets but none of these surpassed the importance of the choir It was important to define the duties of the conductor and of choir members to explain the role of the choir in worship and to cite appropriate standards of conduct for individual choir members Congregational singing needed accompaniment and violins guitars mandolins accordions and even horns were deemed appropriate 24 During communion services the background music of the foot organ enhanced the solemnity of the occasion and could not be surpassed by the finest piano playing 25 On the other hand electrical instruments which have recently made their appearance produce harsh screeching tones if played too loudly 26 How were children led into the ways of the Lord Make use of Bible stories Scripture memorization singing but don t neglect to inform them of the plant and animal world Teach them geography and even astronomy Adolescents need to engage in a serious study of the Scripture be instructed in ethics and practical Christian living learn something about their confession of faith as well as the story of the Christian church 27 SOME OBSERVATIONS Sharp contrasts typified the emergence of the Karaganda Mennonite Brethren church Externally the struggle for separation from both the AUCECB and the local Baptist congregation was long and arduous Independence brought with it a preoccupation with defining boundaries and setting perimeters for virtually every facet of church life a process governed mainly by the memories of early twentieth century Brethren 26 practice and theology Here was a rebirth characterized by unrelenting persistence on the one hand and inward encumbrance on the other What dynamics might account for such tensions One aspect of the process certainly related to the question of identity and dignity Members of the congregation were emerging from a long and brutal Soviet suppression of all things German and by implication Mennonite Stalinism with its mass arrests death camps and forced relocation almost succeeded in destroying the last vestiges of their Mennonite identity The death of Stalin afforded a last opportunity to regroup and rebuild especially since religious and cultural memories capable of achieving this still survived The Karaganda records also suggest that the church engaged in a serious more practical reading of the Gospel than its former Baptist hosts There was the demand for clear lines of demarcation between church and state a specific concern with what it meant

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