December 11, 2013

No Strings Attached

In 1923, Bishop D.D. Miller of Middlebury, Ind., realized differences weren’t disappearing. During the evening milking he told his sons, “Boys, I don’t know what to do about the bonnet and strings… . If I am lenient, some will disapprove, and I’m afraid it will split the church … If I strictly uphold the church regulations, others will be upset, and I fear that will also split the church” (Rachel Nafziger Hartzler, No Strings Attached).
Miller refused communion to the young women without strings. These families formed a new congregation. We can speculate what might have happened if the bishop had told the congregation what he had told his sons. What if he had been honest about the dilemma he faced? What if he had courageously told both sides they were being unreasonable? But that wasn’t the way things were done. (A side note: In 2010 these two congregations reunited.)
- From a column by Jane Yoder-Short in December 9 issue of Mennonite World Review
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