In 1960, when Vincent Harding moved to Atlanta, he began trying to weld together the ongoing nonviolent activism being lived out by some in the Black Church with the peace witness of the Mennonite Church. This effort became less than a decade long experiment, because Harding would eventually break formal ties with the Mennonite Church. Though his time and effort keeping a foot simultaneously in both the Black community and Mennonite community was fixed should not suggest to us that he no longer had an important role to play in for Mennonite lived faith or that he did not continue to influence the Mennonite Church deeply. In fact, his ongoing legacy for the Mennonite Church lives on today.
Mennonites for example are actually 20 percent nonwhite in North America, and mostly non-white when considered from a global perspective. They are not the Mennonite Church you imagine in your head.
"Isn’t that an off-brand religion?” One of my son’s soon-to-be-relatives asked this question when he was introduced as having grown up in a Mennonite family. If Mennonites are off-brand to many Americans, then Pentecostals might be known as firebrands. The average person knows very little about either faith. Rhoda Janzen, who has moved from the former to the latter, brings awareness to both.
"Jesus calls us to make disciples, not just converts," says Todd Friesen of Lombard Mennonite Church in Illinois. "I believe that discipleship begins in communal worship."
“I like to think I’m a grassroots organizer," says Isaac S. Villegas of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship. "I rearrange pews; I find people to make sloppy joes for hungry people.”