Social Justice

Vol. 7, No. 4

Editor, Ervin Beck

In this issue:

  • 0 read more Introduction


    by Ervin Beck

    A sea change in Mennonite self-definition occurred early in the 1980s.

    Without abandoning their commitment to nonviolence and service, The Mennonite Church, meeting in general assembly at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, adopted the statement “Justice and the Christian Witness,” which was refined and printed following the general assembly at Ames, Iowa, in 1985.

    The statement expanded on H. S. Bender’s emphasis on peace in his “The Anabaptist Vision,” which had held sway in the church since 1943. Implementation of the statement led to the current mantra of “peace and justice” as the essential commitment of Mennonite Church USA today.

    This issue of …

  • 0 read more 1942 - Journal from Occupied France

    1942 - Journal from Occupied France

    by Mary Jean Gunden

    In 2013 Lois Gunden Clemens (1915-2005) was recognized posthumously as “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in Israel. She becomes one of only four Americans, among 24,800 people worldwide, to be so honored. Her niece, Mary Jean Gunden, will accept the honor on her aunt’s behalf at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in the coming months.

    In 1942, as a volunteer worker at the children’s convalescent home Villa St. Christophe in Canet-en-Roussillon, France, Lois managed to save an unknown number of Jewish children from deportation to Auschwitz. Six of them are named in the journal entries …

  • 0 read more 1964 - Letter from St. Augustine Jail

    1964 - Letter from St. Augustine Jail

    by Myrna Burkholder

    J. Lawrence Burkholder was on the faculty at Harvard Divinity School when in 1964 he joined Mary (Mrs. Malcolm) Peabody in an attempt to integrate the diner at the Ponce De Leon Motel in St. Augustine, Florida. Mrs. Peabody was the wife of a retired Episcopalian bishop and mother of Endicott Peabody, governor of Massachusetts. Mennonites became aware of this act of civil disobedience because Burkholder’s photo was on the front page of many newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer. The photo captured him and Mrs. Peabody seated in a county-owned limousine on their way …

  • 0 read more 1965 - Memoir From Selma

    1965 - Memoir From Selma

    by Vic Stoltzfus

    March 7, 1965, was the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama.

    March 9 was the march that stopped short of the bridge.

    March 21 was the 21-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital.

    I joined the march to Montgomery

    Fifty years ago I was 31, a part-time Mennonite pastor and a full-time instructor at Youngstown State University in Ohio.

    Mennonites in 1965 did not have a tradition of protesting and marching. My congregation respected my conscience and did not oppose my unexpected behavior in going to Selma. The Sunday morning I was gone, no one said anything to …

  • 0 read more Reading to the Children of Camden

    Reading to the Children of Camden

    by Beth Johnson

    The city of Camden, New Jersey, is a tragedy, one I’d managed not to think about for the first 55 of my 58 years. Living in a comfortable suburb west of Philadelphia, I knew Camden only as a place to be avoided. When drivers cross the Ben Franklin Bridge into Camden they don’t pay a toll, but they pay $5 to reverse the trip. It’s an apt metaphor. Camden is a place you’re willing to pay to leave.

    Once the home of Campbell’s Soups and RCA Victor, it employed more than 36,000 workers in its shipyards during World War II. …

  • 0 read more For Her Daughter, a Different World

    For Her Daughter, a Different World

    by Beth Johnson

    In October 2014, a friend in California noticed an article in the Los Angeles Times she thought I’d be interested in. Titled “Boyle Heights Girl Aims For More, With Help of Soccer,” it focused on a talented young athlete who commutes almost five hours from her gritty Mexican-American neighborhood in order to play with an elite team in Pasadena.

    I was looking for subjects for an upcoming Townsend Press book to be titled The Power of Determination, and young Luisa sounded like a good candidate. Luisa’s soccer coach was easily found online, so I …

  • 0 read more Joe Davis: A Redemption Story

    Joe Davis: A Redemption Story

    by Beth Johnson

    In 1994, I came across an article in a Philadelphia newspaper about Joe Davis, a recovering drug addict, petty criminal, and paraplegic who was pursuing an associate’s degree at a local community college. The story mentioned that Joe occasionally visited schools to talk to at-risk young people about his experience. As I was pulling together profiles for the Townsend Press book Everyday Heroes, I thought Joe might make an interesting story. I arranged to attend one of his presentations, meeting him at a very scary, end-of-the-road disciplinary school in a bad part of town.

    It is not …

  • 1 read more A Good Friday Reflection on Texas Hold'Em as Lenten Practice

    A Good Friday Reflection on Texas Hold'Em as Lenten Practice

    by Tim Nafziger

    A poem in response to Ann of Goshen, years later.

    Hear the instruction of your mother: hate everything that is loved
    by the world and your sensuality.
    -- Maeyken Wens, Mennonite martyr, in her last letter to her son before being
    burned at the stake in Antwerp on October 6, 1573.

    Ann of Goshen, you warned me about the flames, internalized.
    You saw I was one of Those Who Would Save the World.
    “Tim,” you said, “you worry about losing it,
    but you don't realize you will spend your whole life trying to shake it.”

    For Dale, Bob and …

  • 0 read more For Those Who Would Save the World

    For Those Who Would Save the World

    by Ann Hostetler

    A poem for Tim and other activist Goshen College students.

    Give up perfection for just one day.
    Feel yourself a creature of flesh and bone,
    walk around in the cold, wind chafing
    your face, joints jarring as your worn
    soles pound concrete.

    Keep walking till you face
    your deepest failure—not
    with clenched fists, not blinded
    by shame, but with a detached
    curiosity that opens to
    compassion. Finger

    the glazed wound tenderly
    as you would caress the gash
    in Christ’s side. You see
    one doesn’t have to travel far

    to know suffering, though you
    may carry it to the ends of …