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JDM 2024

June 28–29, 2024

Trinity United Church, Portage la Prairie, MB

The Speaker


John D. Roth

For many years (1985-2022), John D. Roth was a professor of history at Goshen College, where he also served as director of the Mennonite Historical  Library and editor of The Mennonite Quarterly Review. John has published widely on topics related to Anabaptist-Mennonite history and church life. He is also the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism at Goshen College and secretary of the Mennonite World Conference Faith and Life Commission. In July 2022, John accepted a new position with MennoMedia as project director of the Anabaptism at 500 initiative. John and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of four adult children and grandparents to seven grandchildren. They are active members of Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, Indiana.

“Without Spot or Wrinkle:” The Search for the
True Church in the Anabaptist-Hutterite Tradition

At the heart of Anabaptist-Hutterite identity is a distinctive vision of the church as a disciplined way of life and a visible witness to the world. The 500th anniversary of Anabaptist beginnings—symbolically marked by the first adult baptisms in Zurich in January of 1525—offers an occasion to reflect broadly on the convictions that gave birth to the Anabaptist-Hutterite movement, the various forms that Hutterite identity has taken over the past five centuries, and some of the contemporary challenges and opportunities that Hutterites and other Anabaptists face today.

LECTURE 1 (Friday, June 28, 2024, 7:30-8:30 pm)

“The axe has been laid to the root:”A Church Born in Renewal…and Schism

Anabaptism emerged as a sixteenth century renewal movement, inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus and the example of the Early Church. In their attempt to recover a faithful vision of Christian discipleship, the Anabaptists made a radical break with the Catholic tradition as well as the emerging Lutheran and Reformed churches. Anabaptists, in the words of one popular book, were “neither Catholic nor Protestant.” Yet sometimes overlooked in this narrative are the many debts that the Anabaptist-Hutterite movement owed to its Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed “parents.” This lecture revisits both the distinctive insights of early Anabaptism, as well as its deep continuities with the broader Christian tradition.

LECTURE 2 (Saturday, June 29, 2024, 10:00-11:00 am)

“They went out from us, but they were not of us:” The Enduring Question of Hutterite Identity

Over the past five centuries, defining the “true church” in the Anabaptist-Hutterite tradition has proven to be an ongoing challenge. In the midst of changing cultural contexts, each generation has faced a similar task of negotiating continuity and change, discerning between essentials and peripherals, balancing individual gifts with community discipline, and listening to the movement of the Spirit while tending to the need for structure. This lecture reflects on the deep impulse in the Anabaptist movement to resolve these tensions by dividing and explores several key moments in  Hutterite history when its identity has been especially contested.

LECTURE 3 (Saturday, June 29, 2024, 1:00-2:00 pm)

“We are in this world up to our necks:” Finding the Church Beyond Purity and Schism

At the core of Anabaptist-Hutterite identity is a view of the church as distinct from the “world.” This vision of a visible communal witness has sustained Anabaptist-Hutterite communities for more than five centuries. Yet at the same time, Christian communities are always deeply embedded in the world. This lecture reflects on the contemporary challenge of being a faithful church that is true to its vision while also recognizing our cultural contexts and the need for healthy, ongoing renewal.

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