Judge and Jury Folks

Smart phones are everywhere…video cameras are everywhere. So…we’re all news filmers?  There’s good in that.  We can catch news happening on the spot.  There’s also bad in it.  We can release a video that shows a part of a story or worse one that is edited to show what we want it show.

Ferguson Missouri 2015 – it appears that a white policeman shoots and kills an innocent black man.  Riots happen.  Obama sends the justice league.  “Got my hands up don’t shoot”.  Everyone yells RACISM and BLACK LIVES MATTER.  Guess what?  The black man turns out to be a thug and is trying to kill the policeman.  Sad thing – that white policeman is still in hiding because of death threats.  Trial by public opinion.  He was guilty for the very beginning.  I understand the racial tension.  I understand a race that feels violated and profiled.  I’ve had to warn my brown sons to be careful – that they are not viewed the same as the rest of their family.  I have also written on white privilege and how I have benefited from it.  I hate bigotry and if there is a bad cop, they need fired.

But…we can’t continue rushing into news stories and judging parties based on videos.  It’s called legal process.  Remember the phrase: Innocent until proven guilty?  Yeah, that’s it.  We all learned it in school.  We always want to go around it when we have  been harmed but boy are we glad to have it when we are wrongly accused.

We are living in extreme tension in our country.  The left and the right.  Whites and black.  Poor and rich.  Those with government aid and those who pay for it.  Muslims/Christians/atheists, the list goes on and it includes police and minorities.  There are problems and we need to address wrongs done but firing off judgmental statements of racism when all the facts aren’t in only helps to stir up anger and division.

You can cloud all this into religious “we are all sinners and have mercy on us” but c’mon – who elected you judge and jury to rule racism based on horrible videos.  Investigate these killings.  Find the truth and rule through the courts.  Stirring emotion at this point is leading to many other innocent people being killed and it will lead to anarchy.  We ALL need to be innocent until proven guilty.  No matter if we are black or white, policeman or citizen on the street.

May God have mercy on us – yes.  Our nation needs to bow and come together in His mercy.  A nation divided will fall.

Lord, when will this stop?

Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USAErvin Stutzman is executive director for Mennonite Church USA.

I’m writing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I’m a guest at Mennonite Church Canada’s biennial assembly. When we gathered on Wednesday evening, we sang, “By the Rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept….” Several times during our assembly, we were encouraged to express lament for some of the things we were experiencing. My laments grew out of the tragic events back home in the Unites States.

I grieve the loss of two black men’s lives by police shooting – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota. My heart goes out to their families and loved ones, and the communities whose fears of armed police are running at an all-time high.

These shootings carry the ugly marks of racism, a systemic and pervasive sin that runs deep in all parts of our nation. I cry out, “Lord, when will this stop?”

I am deeply disturbed that African American men and women in our churches, neighborhoods and communities – even members of my own staff – regularly face racial profiling. They are less safe than White folks on our sidewalks or streets, when even a routine arrest for an alleged traffic violation can turn into an occasion of confrontation and violence.

We must find ways to heal this wound in our land; we need a radical reorientation to transform suspicion and anger into trust and reconciliation.

As a White person in a position of power in the Mennonite Church, I want to call other White folks in this denomination to pay attention, to make space for the voices calling for justice and change in our midst, and to seek concrete ways to confront racism in our communities, our congregations, and in ourselves.

I grieve too for the police force in Dallas and the people who lost family members in the tragic shooting of police there last Thursday. I echo the words of Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister of the Western District in Texas, who wrote earlier this week:

It is with a heavy heart and much pain that we ask you to pray for the peace and for the welfare of the city of Dallas. What was intended to be a peaceful demonstration in downtown Dallas on Thursday turned into a place of darkness, violence and death. We lament the loss of human lives and repudiate the acts of violence that have filled the streets and neighborhoods across the country. May the light of Christ continue shining through us in the midst of this dark moments in which we live.

Yes, may the light of Christ shine on St. Paul, on Baton Rouge, and on Dallas, and every place where violence has left its ugly stain this week. And may the love of Christ lead us together toward a future free from the sins of racism, oppression and violence.

May God have mercy on us all.

Lord, when will this stop?



The Calvary Hour, Bill and Bob Detweiler

I found this articles on an EMU site.  Bill and Bob were 1st cousins with my dad.  I have an old black and white photo of the three of them in knickers.  My grandmother was a Detweiler and that was my dad’s middle name.  I hope you enjoy the article.

Humble Tools,
Willing Hearts

Bill Detweiler

Distinguished Service Award Class of 1951by Paul Souder

They hardly looked the part of future church leaders when they landed on campus in the fall of 1947. Into a sea of dark plain coats stepped Bill and Bob Detweiler, dressed lightly in double-breasted suits, with their trademark mischievous grins and prankster attitudes to rival David Letterman’s. “At 17, we were terribly immature, intent on waging a running battle with the establishment.”Their gift with words got an early workout when the dean of men opened their dorm door to find them surrounded in a blue haze of tobacco smoke. No, they had not been smoking, they could truthfully say. If only the hot iron pants presser, dusted with pipe tobacco, could speak.

The Shenandoah yearbooks from 1948 to 1951 are peppered with photos of the tall lanky identical twins who often dressed alike in public. “Towering in the confidence of 21” and “He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven” — quotes from Jonson and Shakespeare — describe the inseparable duo from Orrville, Ohio, as they graduated in 1951 with identical degrees in English.

The next chapter of their intertwined lives has its roots in Canton, Ohio, in the middle of the Great Depression. Their father originally had his heart set on the foreign mission field. But the rigors of India in the 1930s were beyond the health of his wife. So he accepted a mission assignment in working-class Canton. Here, William Detweiler “saw a lost soul for every streetlight” and resolved to reach them with the gospel message. His plan was bold and controversial.

Bill and Bob were one day shy of their seventh birthday when their father’s voice first crackled over the radio airwaves of WHBC on Nov. 28, 1936. He was perhaps the first Mennonite to ever preach on radio (15 years before The Mennonite Hour began broadcasting). In 1936, owning a radio was discouraged or prohibited in the conservative Mennonite heartland.

But William Detweiler was undeterred by the harsh criticism. Walking the city streets, he passed the open door of a Canton bar and heard his voice on the radio above the clink of beer glasses. He knew he was reaching people who would never hear the gospel message from his pulpit.

Growing up, the twins had to know that a radio microphone would probably find its way into their future. For Bill, that moment came when he was a green and nervous 25. He spent a good part of the summer of 1954 preparing for his first radio message.

Bill and his brother were enrolled in a Philadelphia seminary when their father asked whether they would continue the radio ministry if anything should happen to him. William was the strapping picture of good health in his early 50s; his tenure behind theCalvary Hour microphone was likely to stretch into the distant future. Answering yes to their father came easily.

A short two years later on a cold January day, the call from their mother rang in Philadelphia. Bill and Bob were planning to spend the day in the library, completing research on their final dissertation for a second theological degree. That work would remain lunfinished. They raced westward on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the wintry mountains a tear-streaked blur.

Four weeks after their father’s fatal heart attack, Bill and Bob made good on their promise. For the next 34 years, the twins shared the radio pulpit, alternating sermons and introductory announcements. Their easy banter, measured cadence, insightful stories and simple, biblical messages found a growing audience, from Arizona to New York, from Montana to the Caribbean.

It is Bill’s belief that “radio is ideally suited to the message of the gospel, even better suited than television. The face of the speaker is really not very important. But the message is all-important.”

If their radio sermons rang true, perhaps it was because they were grounded in their pastoral ministry in the real worlds of Kidron, Ohio (Bill), and Goshen, Indiana (Bob).

Bill and his wife Ruth live in the same house where they raised their three daughters, across the road from Central Christian High School and a short amble from Kidron Mennonite Church. He served the large congregation from 1957 to 1994. That’s 37 years, more than 350 weddings, about the same number of funerals and sermons numbering in the thousands.

How many pastors do you know who served one church for 37 years? Bill wears well. He laughs easily. He listens intently. He connects with people of all ages. He has spent a lifetime sharpening his native gift with words — striving to achieve what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the vivid precision of thoroughbred language” — in the service of God’s kingdom.

“This is where I grind it out.” The walk-up attic study is his upper-room sanctuary. Surrounded on all sides with solid walls of books, beneath a framed portrait of his father gazing into the future, Bill leans back in his swivel desk chair. His IBM Selectric typewriter waits for the next set of 5 x 8 cards outlining his next sermon or noting a relevant illustration from his voracious readings.

C.S. Lewis, current biographies, history, classic preachers with names like Joseph Parker and Alexander Maclaren, weekly news magazines — Bill has gleaned from them all. These provide the harmony notes, but the melody is scripture, the unchanging biblical themes.

“I am inspired by the substance of solid preaching of the past, in which the preacher is actually addressing the biblical theme, trying to make it relevant for today. Rather than start where we are today and then going to the Bible as a commentary, I would rather use what’s happening today as a commentary on what the Bible has said.”

Scripture speaking to culture. The eternal Word carried by a human voice. The high calling of preaching the gospel. On his business card, the title under Bill’s name reads simply, Minister of Jesus Christ. “Preaching is not a burden. I wish I could preach a hundred more years. I have not run out of sermons.”

In 1989, his brother Bob died of a sudden heart attack. He was two months away from reaching 60. In the next booklet of Calvary Hour sermons, Bill penned these simple words: “You are the very best brother God ever made. Because of the grace of our Lord Christ, I will love you and enjoy you all through eternity, because I, too, am on the happy road home! – Bill.”

Eternity is a recurring theme in Bill’s ministry. “When God made us, he started something which will never end. You and I are creatures of eternity.”

When his father started the radio ministry in 1936, the year 2001 would have seemed like an eternity away. Yet every week for 65 years, a Detweiler voice has gone out faithfully over the air waves, “a simple presentation of the whole-bodied gospel” scattered generously like seeds across the land.

One typewritten card thumb-tacked to Bill’s study wall reads, “How humble the tool when praised for what the hand has done.”

In Bill, as in his brother and father, God’s hand found a willing tool, sharpened and ready to serve.

Paul Souder promises to listen with keener interest to The Calvary Hour on two local radio stations. Paul is a communications consultant. His father was a college classmate of the Detweiler twins.


Rules and rules

Why can the Amish have scooters with rubber wheels but their buggies, tractors and wagons can’t?

Why is a scooter permitted but a bicycle is not?

Why can they use cell phones but not land lines?

Why are electricity and computers permitted in a business out of necessity?  If they are wrong, aren’t they wrong anywhere?

If driving and owning a car is wrong, why can they ride in one that is driven and owned by someone else?

How does one church make one set of rules while another church makes an entirely different set?

Does any of this make sense and does any of it have anything to do with following God?

menno buggy

Mennonite Drug Dealers (again)

Mennonite Sentenced in Cartel Drug Smuggling Case

Mennonite Drug Cartel

It was an unlikely alliance that authorities said involved a group of pacifist Mexican Mennonites accused of growing tons of marijuana and working with a notoriously vicious Mexican cartel to ship it across the U.S. border.

Abraham Friesen-Remple was one of six members of the Mennonite farming community in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc who were indicted and accused of smuggling pot in the gas tanks of cars and inside farm equipment.

Friesen-Remple was sentenced Monday in federal court in Denver to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of marijuana. A judge said he would likely be released later in the day because of time already served.

Law enforcement officials said the trafficking partnership is nothing new. But the case of Friesen-Remple illustrates how the Mennonites worked with the Juarez cartel in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

“You had ready access to the border, and you had a skilled labor pool in terms of their ability to work with machinery and welding and anything that you would find in an agricultural community,” said Glenn Gaasche, a supervisor in the Grand Junction, Colorado, office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

He said the Mennonites, skilled as welders, would fill a secret space inside farming machinery with pot before trucking it across the border.

The exact role of the cartel isn’t clear. But Gaasche said such crime organizations control the Mexico side of the border and likely aren’t going to let tons of weed cross without getting a cut of the proceeds.

“There’s going to be some coordination and some money changing hands,” he said.

The investigation involved wiretaps in which 32,200 calls were recorded in Spanish and a German dialect used by Mennonites.

In the Friesen-Remple case, Mennonite drivers took the pot to Colorado then to North Carolina after the arrest of a person who ran a Colorado Springs auto body shop involved in the case.

Marijuana had been off-loaded at the shop, and drivers such as Friesen-Remple took it to other places across the country, authorities said.

Court records show he once delivered a shipment of marijuana ? hidden in a farm bulldozer ? to a home in Shelby, North Carolina. DEA agents tapped his phone and learned he was getting directions from someone in Mexico.

The next month, a fellow member of the drug ring, who became a cooperating witness, told agents Friesen-Remple delivered 1,575 pounds of pot that agents found during a search of his home, according to court records.

“In our case, I’m quite sure that some of those transporters were told to go to a certain stash house, some were told to meet a certain distributor, and some of those people may be operating their own little business stashing stuff for the cartel or moving money,” Gaasche said.

Friesen-Remple was arrested on Aug. 20, 2013, in the Santa Teresa Point of Entry in New Mexico.

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer noted his lack of criminal history and limited role in drug distribution.

The Mennonite community in Chihuahua dates to the 1920s, when thousands of Mennonites moved from Canada to northern Mexico to preserve a way of life rooted in farming and objection to military service. They continue to farm and ranch in isolated communities.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people are honest hardworking people, you just have that 1 percent that have gone sideways,” Gaasche said.

Law enforcement has been aware for years of small, separate groups of Mennonites running cocaine rings and dealing other drugs, said Aurora, Colorado, Police Sgt. Dale Quigley, intelligence manager for the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

DEA agents last year also seized cocaine they said was headed for Mennonites in Canada.

The involvement of some Mennonites, though not representative of the entire community, is a simple case of economics, Quigley said.

“This is just a case where I have a commodity that I can move from one place to another and make a financial gain on it,” he said.

War Tax

“In one week in Vietnam I went into five villages and saw about 900 dead people. I don’t want to be part of this. I want to be part of a movement that says no to that.”

Brian Willson
author, activist, Vietnam veteran

What would you do
if someone came to your door
with a cup in hand
asking for a contribution
to help buy guns
to kill a group of people
they didn’t like?

  — Wally Nelson

wartax1 wartax2wartax4


Where do you stand?

Were we wrong to fight the British for our freedom?

Should we have allowed the south to separate and keep their slaves?




Where do you stand?

Manure Spreaders

A friend told me a great story today.  Let me paraphrase:

I was born into an Amish family.  My dad needed a new manure spreader for the farm but he couldn’t find any with steel wheels.  He searched and searched but he couldn’t find one.  He finally bought one with rubber wheels and used it for a couple years with no issues.  One day, a man came and told him where he could get one with steel wheels.  He was happy with the one he had and chose not to change.

The Bishop soon came by for a visit and told dad that he had to change to steel wheels or leave the church.  Dad replied “My relationship with God isn’t based on manure spreaders.”  That’s when we left the Amish Church and became Mennonites!

With all the changes affecting the church today, what is your relationship built on?



Open Letter to Mennonite Family

An open letter to the Mennonite family

Nov 14, 2014 by ,

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We are Richard and Jewel (Wenger) Showalter. As church planters, missionaries, educators, mission administrators, parents and now grandparents, we have walked as part of the Mennonite family throughout our lives.

We love the Mennonite church and the broader body of Jesus Christ. Our lifelong passion has been to reach out to those who do not yet know Jesus. During the past 30 years, we have been privileged to do this in friendship with churches both in North America and around the world.

Now in North America the church is engaged in a wide-spread discussion which ranges through many denominations. Is homosexual practice part of God’s good creation or is it sin? Should same-sex covenantal unions now be included in our definition of Christian marriage?

Especially after reading Chester and Sara Jane Wenger’s eloquent appeal to change the church’s approach to same-sex covenantal unions, we are also moved to write to the church. We would love to agree with them because they are beloved elders (Jewel’s parents) and we want to walk in step with them. We resonate deeply with their call for compassionate, embracing love for all those in the LGBTQ community. We affirm that embrace.

See also “Lancaster Conference Terminates Minister’s Credentials.”

We are grieved with our many sins of self-righteousness, judgmentalism, homophobia and lack of compassionate love in the body of Christ for those with same-sex attraction.

But we believe homosexual actions are sinful and we should not attempt to craft a more inclusive definition of Christian marriage.

“Sin” is not a popular topic, and we all struggle with temptations. But we must go to war with them. Jesus loves us so deeply he died for our sins — our greed, violence, homophobia, pride, self-righteousness, all of them. God knows each of our particular vulnerabilities — different for every one of us. He longs to root out sins that take root so deeply within us that we accept them as part of our identity.

We know that Jesus himself was tempted in “every way” like us. Yet he was without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Now Jesus walks with us to overcome, to “find mercy and grace in our time of need.” He gave us the scriptures as a life-giving message from heaven. His love is both enormously kind and incredibly tough and transformative. True love cannot affirm what God does not, yet Jesus always meets us where we are.

We have been members of West End Mennonite Fellowship in Lancaster, Pa., for many years. We love to read its mission statement written in bold letters on the wall of a former bar, “We welcome all people into a safe and healing community in which we grow to be more like Jesus and join him in extending his kingdom to the world.” Yes, “all people.” Yes, “like Jesus.”

When the early Anabaptists debated believers’ baptism or participation in war with those who would later burn them at the stake, their persistent plea was, “Show us from the scriptures.”

We appeal to those who promote a redefinition of Christian marriage — “Show us from the scriptures.”

We don’t wish to be divisive or to split the church. We don’t wish to cause pain and rejection. We do not support discrimination or violence against people because of their sexual orientation or practice. But we do wish to be faithful to the word of God.

While some point to issues such as slavery, the role of women, divorce and remarriage, and circumcision as ones on which the church has changed its mind, we see in the scriptures new vectors on these subjects in the example of Jesus and the early church.

Slaves are urged to obey their masters, but also to seek their freedom. Women are told to be quiet in the church, but also to pray and prophesy. God hates divorce, yet “because of unfaithfulness” divorce and remarriage were permitted. Both Old and New Testaments point toward obedience and “circumcision of the heart” as being more important than a circumcision in the flesh. The church has followed these vectors.

But we do not see new directions in relation to sexual sin and marriage relationships. Here the New Testament teachings are even more radical and prohibitive than they were in the context of Old Testament culture. “Don’t even look at a woman to lust after her . . . ” “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” “Run away from all sexual sins.”

Though it would be much easier to flow with the seemingly irresistible current in contemporary western culture on this issue, we appeal, please “show us from the scriptures” where this is God’s ideal and intent since the creation of the world.

On what do we as Christians base our ethics? Many westerners since the 1960s have appealed to love, kindness and compassion. But was it kind and loving of Paul to discipline a church member on grounds of immorality (I Cor. 5)? Not unless we have a Biblical understanding of sin. Please “show us from the scriptures” where same-sex behavior is not understood to be sinful and under God’s judgment. Show us where same-sex unions are part of God’s creation ideals for marriage. Jesus quoted Genesis that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife . . . ” (Matt. 19).

Daniel was a man who stood alone in worship of the one true God in the face of the surrounding culture’s gods. Let us not bow our knees to an ethic of “kindness” and “love” outside the word of God. If the scriptures are to be trusted at all, God’s love is both kinder and tougher than many of our human understandings of it.

Kindness and love are nearly universal human values. We are privileged to have many kind and loving Muslim, Buddhist and secular friends. We talk freely about our beliefs, our similarities and differences. But we don’t assume that we are all part of the same worshiping community. We base our beliefs on different foundations, different authorities and a different relationship to Jesus.

Menno Simons’ favorite verse was, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11).

The Mennonite church in Ethiopia chose this verse to shape its name, “the Christ Foundation Church.” We think it is significant that they and the majority of the church in the Global South do not appear to follow the Western church in raising this issue. Let’s not be afraid to test our theological questions in the global hermeneutical community.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me . . . ” (Matt. 10:37). “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? . . . whoever does the will of my Father in heaven . . . ” (Matt. 12:48-50).

Jesus calls us to honor him above self, family, clan, tribe and nation. May it be so for us as a church!

Jewel and Richard Showalter are lifelong missionaries and members at West End Mennonite Fellowship in Lancaster, Pa.

Shared from: http://mennoworld.org/2014/11/14/to-our-beloved-mennonite-family/

Veteran’s Day

Dear Mennonites,

Today is Veteran’s Day.  I thought I would remind you since there are very few Mennonite veterans.  It’s a day to celebrate and thank those who have served in our armed forces to protect our country and freedom.  While you may not agree with that you are benefiting from the freedom that they fight for.  I’m not judging you because you don’t believe in war.  I’m just encouraging you to be thankful and to pray not only for peace but for those who fight for our peace.  Be thankful today for the peace that we have.