Mennonite Mirth: It's All in a Name!
by Jep Hostetler
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had heard about the
new merger. "You mean the integration of the GC's and MC's
in U.S. into one Mennonite Church USA?" I queried. "No,"
he replied, "the merger of FedEx and UPS". He went
on to explain the frustrations people are expressing regarding
so many UPS and FedEx trucks on the road. The new company is
simply called FED-UP.
With the merger-transformation-integration-fusion of the MC's
and GC's, is it any wonder that there are fusions of names that
sometimes bring about interesting combinations. True, MBM and
COM are now part and parcel of MMN. However, in my mind, saying
MMN out loud does not fall off the lips as easily as COM or MBM.
The enrichment of Mennonite churches around the world has
been going on for years, with new and wonderful people from all
kinds of religious backgrounds. What strikes me as interesting
is the trend toward blending of names. When couples decide to
get married, announce their engagement, and set the date for
the wedding, they also decide who is going to take on whose name.
Or, will they hyphenate their last names? Or perhaps each will
take on a new middle name with the bride being the one to take
on the groom's last name, while the groom takes on the bride's
last name as his middle name, or some combination of this arrangement.
This blending brings about some creative last names. For example,
what if Shirley Fender, from San Francisco, marries Charles Bender
from Bluffton? You would have Shirley and Charles Fender-Bender.
Or perhaps Melonie Schwartzentruber marries Nathan Neuenschwander
and you get Melonie and Nathon Schwartzentruber-Neuwenschwander.
In a similar vein, one could conceive of Henry Harder marrying
Fanny Friesen and you would get Fanny and Henry Friesen-Harder.
Or if a Short woman marries a Long man you would have a Long-Short
or a Short-Long, depending upon which of the partners has the
To take this to its fullest potential, it would be possible
for a Short-Long to marry a Fender-Bender and you would have
a Short-Long-Fender-Bender. Possibilities are unlimited when
one considers the wide variety of names in Mennonite Church USA.
Everything from Nicely-Dunn to Coyvenhoven-Hostetler would enrich
our membership rolls.
I can see the Mennonite Weekly Review headlines now: Susan
Short-Fender emerges as the new leader in the Mennonite Church
USA, replacing Lowell Long-Bender in 2006. It's possible!
Jep Hostetler, Columbus, Ohio, is a humorist and, an associate
professor emeritus at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
He and his wife Joyce serve as staff persons for the Mennonite