saves the day . . . and the church
The air was tense.
The debate was vigorous. The 1944 special session of the Mennonite
Church General Conference (now General Assembly) had been called
to meet in Goshen, Indiana.
The question at hand
was how to discipline one of the conferences for not keeping
its members in line. For nearly a decade, issues such as biblical
interpretation, nonresistance and nonconformity had been festering.
Could this special meeting resolve the issues and avoid splintering
On the final evening,
official reports were set aside, and discussion was opened up.
At the right moment, Sanford C. Yoder stood to speak. He had
been a cowboy in the West, a pastor in Iowa, and president of
Goshen College. He was now retired from the presidency,
and well seasoned by many difficult assignments.
In his soft-spoken
voice, he addressed the real issue. "We're having these
problems because we don't love each other any more. We no longer
have fellowship with each other the way we used to. That's why
we can't agree."
In the silence that
followed, hearts softened. From the softened hearts, confessions
were made. Prayers and communion sealed a new attitude and a
new era of love and respect in the Mennonite Church.
sensed the Holy Spirit's leading, and spoke words of wisdom and
discernment in a time of great need. The day was saved. So was