It's hard to believe this is our 7th post! And this next one is very exciting because this is the first time the participant is neither a friend or a friend of a friend, which means that YMR is getting more readers! Very cool!
But before I introduce our next participant, I want to thank Angel for her very interesting post last week!
And, now for this week, please welcome Monica.
Monica is a Mennonite and I think you will enjoy her post!
Here is Monica's Introduction:
I'm Monica, a Christian-Mennonite who enjoys cooking, sewing, gardening, reading and homemaking. I am married, and also work outside the home as a librarian.
1) What religion do you practice?
I am a member of a theologically conservative Mennonite church.
2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
Well, my mother was Lutheran and my father was the one with the Anabaptist background, so to answer your question, it was a little of both. Sometimes we visited my grandmother's Lutheran church where I participated in Sunday School, sometimes we were members of a Mennonite church. We moved around a bit, which made for a varied (and somewhat unstable) church life. I was brought up in a Christian home that was also very Mennonite culturally possibly due to my parents both having a German background. Most Mennonites make a decision to join the church somewhere after the age of 12, whether they are "born into" the religion or not. Joining the church means taking an instruction class and being baptized in what we call believer's baptism. That means we do not baptize babies, but we baptize accountable young adults or adults upon confession of faith. Upon baptism, you would then become a church member and practicing Mennonite. By doing so, you agree to uphold a church's standards, participate in church life, and communion. You become more accountable to the church for your actions. I made the decision to join the church, though looking back on it, I was not ready and there was a lot of pressure from my family. Later on, in college, I did step back and explore other religions, with no lasting satisfaction in what I found. During my final years of college, I became a church member again and experienced what I feel was a true rebirth as I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My husband grew up in an Independent Baptist church, and converted to Mennonite after his church suffered a split.
3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
How about a moderate conservative? Even within conservative Mennonite churches, there are varying degrees of what could be termed "conservative." In some churches, members are not allowed radio, internet, and their vehicle must be painted black. These are what would be called "ultra conservatives". I believe radio, computers, and my silver car do not detract from my Christian life. Yet, I do believe that divorce and remarriage is sin, that women experience blessings by observing the practice of headcovering described in 1 Corinthians 11, and that much popular media (television, many movies) is a time thief that detracts from family life. We do not have television. I also believe in modest dress- skirts or dresses for women, uncut hair, and we are not to wear jewelry (1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9). I could go on and on, but these are some of my beliefs.
4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
My commitment to historical Anabaptist beliefs, values, and practices that have fallen away for many other people who no longer practice them.
5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
Again, my previous statement would apply, and to what degree you practice the historically agreed on tenets of Mennonite faith would give you the label of Conservative, moderate, etc. For instance, there are Old Order Mennonites who drive horses and buggies, and have changed much less over the past hundred years than other churches. This lack of change would make them the most conservative of the Mennonites.
6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
This is a hard question for a number of reasons. I only have the Bible to go by, which describes bits and pieces of heaven. And yet, I also believe that heaven is somewhat incomprehensible in my small, human mind. There will be things in heaven that I cannot understand or fathom in my body here on earth because "For now we see through a glass, darkly," (1 Corinthians 13:12). I do know that there will be streets of gold and gates of pearl, and that we will be singing God's praises there.
7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
The Bible is clear that some do not. Luke 16-19:31 shows us one case of a man who was given much in life and yet could not share it. In hell, he asks for a drink of water, and I believe that man is still thirsty today. In John 14:6 Jesus says He is the way and the truth, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. Yet, I also believe that everyone will have the chance to accept Jesus and enter into an everlasting relationship with God. Still, even then the Bible is clear that some will reject God.
8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
The emphasis on Jesus as the center of our faith, and having a personal relationship with Him. There are some traditions within the church that I value highly, because I find them to be beautiful and God-glorifying. Finally, I value the brotherhood of believers. In a functional church, the brotherhood is like having an extended family.
9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
We do celebrate traditional Christian holy days such as Christmas and Easter. There is usually a church service, and then a day spent with family. Also, a meal, and at Christmas, gifts. Around Christmas our church will also go caroling to some older people in the community, and one year on Christmas eve we had a song service where we sang carols. We also have a special service on Good Friday. Twice a year our church observes communion, in the Fall and Spring. These are special church services and could be classified as holy days.
10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Oh, definitely. Every one's walk with the Lord is unique and personalized. I am not here to judge anyone because they are different from me!
11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I would be more likely to do this if it was a holy day on the Christian calender, or if I was on the mission field.
12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
This is not an issue in the United States where I reside.
13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
Do women have to do everything? We're expected to keep house, have and raise children, sometimes homeschool, often have jobs outside the home, and care for our aging parents. And now they want us to lead the church? Sorry, I'm over extended as it is. I am thankful that God assigns different roles to men and women, and that I do not feel the need to take over church leadership.
14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Not sure I understand this question. There are many churches that segregate seating of men and women, with men on one side of the church and women on the other. My church does not do this, for which I am very glad. I love worshiping next to my husband. In churches I attended in the past that had segregated seating, I was always distracted by the back and forth passing of children across the aisles, and parents constantly getting up and leaving the sanctuary to meet outside to discuss something.
15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My relationship with Jesus Christ affects every area of my life, from how I spend my time, how I use my resources, how I react or don't react, and what I think about during the day. It is with great joy that I seek and accept God's guidance in many areas of my life. While my views on abortion and homosexuality are based on the Bible, I admit that they probably would not be much different than if I did not look to the Bible as a guide. Politically, I am somewhat of a natural conservative on certain issues.
16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
This is difficult to say as I do not have children. I hope that I would be more concerned about my child marrying another Christian rather than someone specifically Mennonite. Yet, I know myself well enough to suspect that I might be sorrowful if my child chose to reject Mennonite beliefs altogether, and was unable to see the beauty of what we have to offer.
17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
It will NOT be just Mennonites in heaven!
18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
It is dangerous to make assumptions on what is in another person's heart and make accusations of false belief. Although I am hard pressed to think of anyone off the top of my head who "speaks for my religion" (there may not be anyone as we are generally quiet and keep to ourselves) I do know that there are issues of sin in our churches which remain hidden, as we are churches made up of imperfect people.
19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
The only time I feel like that is when I have a God-directed burden for something that no one else feels is important. For instance, I have always had a strong pull for environmental stewardship, which is not a priority to most Mennonites. It is seen as a liberal agenda issue. It sometimes feels like Mennonites limit their creation care strictly to the mission field, and that is important, too. But God created so much more than that, and asks us to look after it.
21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
At its best moments. But all Christians struggle. What it does is give me a living hope of an eternity spent with a loving Heavenly Father.
22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I do not. The Bible says "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27) and there is nothing more I can add to that