In the Summer 2010 newsletter, Lesley Misrahi introduced Wood Green Mennonite Church:
Where is Wood Green Mennonite Church?
We are based in North London and draw people from across the city and into Hertfordshire. Our Sunday worship takes place in one of the halls of Westbury Avenue Baptist Church in Wood Green. But we also make extensive use of our homes and the London Mennonite Centre.
How and why did the church begin?
The church grew out of the ministry of Alan and Eleanor Kreider in the mid-1970s at the London Mennonite Centre. They had no plans to start a new church, but there was already a tradition of meeting on alternate Sundays at the Centre to worship together, which became weekly. Some people, who valued what they had learned from the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition, wanted to start a Mennonite church, where they could put these things into practice.
The church drew on what John Howard Yoder had written about church practices, especially the priesthood of all (so no clergy), decision-making through consensus, and confidence in God sending along those with gifts the church needed. The church is founded on a covenant of shared beliefs, reaffirmed annually, which is rooted in the Anabaptist tradition.
Some of our members are from North American Mennonite backgrounds; others were searching for a Mennonite church to join; some just found us and enjoyed us enough to stay. But we don’t suit everyone: visiting African Mennonites have not settled with us.
What are the church’s main priorities?
Above all, we are a worshipping community: our gatherings on Sunday afternoons are important to us. But we place high value on community, meeting in homes, to discuss our life together and for table-communion services.
Being explicitly and solidly Mennonite is one of our priorities. We are committed to social justice and to being a peace church. We emphasise discipleship rather than dogma, which enables us to tolerate a fairly wide spectrum of beliefs. Some of us would describe ourselves as ‘post-evangelical’.
In what ways has the church drawn on the Anabaptist tradition?
As well as the things mentioned above, we are committed to multi-voiced worship and to a way of preaching that relates all aspects of Scripture to the teaching of Jesus. Giving mutual support to each other is very important to us, as is the freedom to ask questions rather than needing to have all the answers. We also strongly affirm the ministry of women (although we realise not all Mennonites agree with us on this).
Working on healthy ways of resolving conflict is another practice that has been informed by the Anabaptist tradition. Our church has a culture of ‘not gossiping’ (could this be related to the way we empower rather than marginalise women?).
What are your hopes for the Anabaptist Network of Communities?
We’re looking forward to getting to know other communities, to share with them and learn from them. We recently spent a Sunday visiting other communities and felt very welcome there. We are eager that the network is meaningful for all our members, not just a few representatives.
For more information, go to www.mennonites.org.uk