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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Givens

On My Journey into Anabaptism: An Open Letter to Third Way Church


My dearest Third Way,


It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years. It feels at once as though it was only yesterday and that it was a lifetime ago that I first walked through the doors of Knox Presbyterian Church in the Midway neighborhood in July of 2015 to visit the young, small Anabaptist Mennonite congregation known as Third Way Church. I barely understood what it meant to be Mennonite at the time, and while I now realize that being part of a Mennonite church can mean many things, one central word stands out to me when I think of my time at this particular church: community.


It seems such a simple thing, but believe me, it is incredibly difficult to pull off. From the moment I entered the church the first time until today, I have always felt welcome and loved. That is not to say that our congregation has been perfect, but we have been through many, many things together that I know my faith would not have survived had I not been a part of this community.


Together we celebrated the dedication of our first son, Elijah. His name means « My God is Yahweh. » We have done everything we can to raise him to know that Yahweh is his God and loves him beyond measure, and you have played no small role in that teaching. We also celebrated the birth of our second beloved son: Micaiah. His name means « Yahweh is God alone. » You who have been there since his birth probably remember how difficult he was as a baby. He had tummy problems and would cry for hours every night. Thank you for being the image of Yahweh to my son and to my family as we worked through those first difficult years.


There have also been difficult times. The one that most obviously comes to mind is the year 2020. And I don’t just mean Covid. That year, both my parents passed unexpectedly, my brother’s apartment burned down, and my mother’s ashes were stolen. Though we couldn’t spend much time together in person, you were kind, loving, and caring to us during that most difficult time of my life. I truly don’t believe my faith would have survived without you.


There are many other things I could say or memories I could bring up, but I won’t take too much more of your time. From the very beginning, you showed me that it was OK to ask questions, that none of us have all the answers. Together, we followed our Anabaptist heritage of seeking God’s will together, understanding that there is wisdom in our numbers and that even the most recent convert to Christianity has something of value to add. Your love for each other and to my family was a truly healing experience for me as I sought to deconstruct so many of the things I had been taught as a child and reconstruct a new faith, stronger than before.


My friends, I want to encourage you to continue on this path of beloved community. I may no longer be physically present with you, but I will carry that spirit in my heart for the rest of my life, knowing that you instilled it in me. I also want to encourage you to seek to love your neighbor as yourself, get out into the community and love those around the church who are broken. Show them where true love and healing can be found. I have found it here, and I know others will too.


I still don’t have all the answers or understanding that I would like, but I know that with the spirit I carry from you, I can continue seeking among other people who are also seeking. Thank God for you. Thank you for all you have given of yourselves to me. We will miss you greatly and know that we will have a home whenever we pass this way again.


Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Joseph

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