Leading off this edition is a short semi-biographical piece by Jan Engle Lewis based on her interviews a number of years ago with Anna Taylor Grissinger and Mabel Frey Hensel, who were missionary children in the early days of Brethren in Christ missions in Africa. Anna and Mabel’s reflections suggest to me, another missionary kid from a later time period, that there are many more stories like theirs waiting to be told.
As is our custom, this edition of the journal also features the presentations from the annual conference of the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College. The conference, held at the college in November 2015, was on the topic of “Life Beyond the Congregation: The Future of Denominations in the Twenty-First Century.” Roger Olson, a professor at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, was the keynote speaker. He is a self-described “Christian theologian of the evangelical Baptist persuasion,” a proud Arminian, and influenced by Pietism. His presentations defending denominations and suggesting how denominations can survive sparked lively conversation, some of which is captured in the five responses from a variety of perspectives that follow his two-part article. In addition to Olson’s presentations, four Brethren in Christ leaders participated in a panel discussion on “Why I Serve at the Denominational Level,” and there were several workshops. The written version of one of those workshops, presented by John Yeatts, is also printed here.
Also happening last November was a follow-up event to the Mennonite World Conference global assembly held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in July 2015. The Historical Society was pleased to partner with the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society in sponsoring an evening program called “How in the World Have We Changed?” focusing especially on changes in the Anabaptist world in the last fifty years. The main feature of the evening program was a panel discussion in which four representative individuals reflected on changes they have observed and experienced in their respective parts of the Anabaptist world. Included here is an edited version of the panel discussion in the belief that the observations the panelists made will be of interest to a Brethren in Christ audience. Plus, both the editor and the president of the Historical Society participated in the panel!
This edition marks Nancy Heisey’s first as book review editor for the journal. Nancy and I both want to thank Devin Manzullo-Thomas not only for his previous stellar service as book review editor (and overall assistant editor) but also for having enough reviews in the pipeline to make Nancy’s task a lot easier for this first edition under her tenure. I also want to thank Karin Bisbee, who works in the development office at Messiah Lifeways and attends the Mechanicsburg (PA) Brethren in Christ Church, and Jonathan Stanton, a member of the Carland-Zion (MI) Brethren in Christ Church who now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, for their considerable help with proofreading and copyediting. Every editor needs an editor!
We always welcome reader feedback, letters to the editor, and responses to anything that appears in the journal. This edition concludes with a letter to the editor regarding an article in the August 2015 edition, as well as the author’s response to the letter.
Author: Harriet Sider Bicksler
Harriet Sider Bicksler is editor for the Brethren in Christ Historical Society. She also edits "Shalom! A Journal for the Practice of Reconciliation," a quarterly Brethren in Christ publication on peace and justice issues, and is a member of the Grantham (PA) Brethren in Christ Church. She and her husband Dale have two children and four grandchildren.