About the Assembly History Project J. R. Burkholder Monday, January 26, 2004
In the fall of 1998, as the congregation began planning for a 25th
Anniversary celebration to be held sometime in Spring 1999, a proposal
came to the Leadership Group that the congregation should plan to write
its story for this occasion.
A volunteer committee was formed, consisting of Michael Miller, Mary
Schertz, Arden Shank and J. R. Burkholder. Very early it was agreed
that this should not be simply a conventional narrative history, but
rather an attempt to understand the meaning of the AMC story, focusing
on themes such as vision, structures and process. We wanted to
see what had resulted from the original effort to do church
differently, to develop an intentional neo-Anabaptist model.
We drew up a list of topics that included VISION, INSIDE/ OUTSIDE
(finances and mission), SERVANT LEADERSHIP, SMALL GROUPS
AND STRUCTURE, use of SPACE and PLACE, WORSHIP, MEMBERSHIP
FLOW, THEMATIC STUDIES (such as ordination/leadership, marriage and
divorce, baptism, sexuality), etc. Then we began contacting
potential writers, including some former members.
But getting the chapters written turned out to be a much more demanding
task than any of us had anticipated. By the time of the April 99
Anniversary celebration, only promises of a book could be offered,
although a few dollars were offered as down payments.
Now, more than five years later (December 2004), we still await
chapters on some important topics that have not yet been completed by
the selected writers. Since the whole project depends on
voluntary efforts by busy people, we keep waiting and encouraging each
In the meantime, however, website technology has become available, and
we have decided to use this means of making the ongoing efforts
accessible to anyone interested. Along with informing the world
that the AMC History Project does in fact exist, we are using this
format to invite comments and corrections that will make possible a
more satisfactory finished product.
Beginning with the foundational chapter by Norman Kraus on the
theological vision that inspired and grounded the beginnings of
Assembly Mennonite Church, we will continue to post on this website
those essays that become available to us. We welcome questions and
conversation as we keep working to record faithfully our story as a