Canadian Prairie Mennonite Ministers' Use of Scripture:
The book will be available at the March 22 book launch at CommonWord.
The downloadable summary, Concentric Circles of Influence gives a good overview.
Stoesz has spent the last fifteen years uncovering Scripture texts that Russian-Mennonite ministers, living on the Canadian Prairie, used in their sermon preparations. The research included Scripture references used by seventeen Mennonite ministers over the course of a one-hundred-year period (1874-1977). Denominations represented in this analysis include the Christian Mennonite Conference (Chortitzer), Sommerfeld Mennonite Church, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan (General Conference), Mennonite Church Manitoba (General Conference), Evangelical Mennonite Conference (Kleine Gemeinde), Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference, and Old Colony Mennonite Church.
The purpose of this research has been to show a commonality of focus, emphasis, usage, and direction that points toward a Mennonite canon within the biblical canon. There is enough similarity that one can speak of a rhythm to the Mennonite church year, a common theology rooted in atonement theory, discipleship emphases, and sermons of supplication, along with a rootedness of catechetical instruction, baptismal rituals, and communion services.
These comparisons of texts can be viewed as three concentric circles, emanating internally (1) from a Mennonite canon used by ministers on the Canadian Prairie, (2) to the larger Anabaptist community, (3) to the broader Christian Church. Whether chosen as a free text, used in common with other ministers, or in conjunction with the lectionary, these Scripture passages reveal spheres of influence that stretch temporally back to the sixth and seventeenth centuries, expand outward to Swiss and Amish Anabaptist communities, and reach across Christian denominational lines to churches that are using a lectionary.
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