Marcus Yoder


Nathan Yoder provides a history of the Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC) from its inception early in the twentieth century to its present situation. Yoder, professor of church history at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, has his own history in the CMC, and while no longer affiliated with the conference, he is a child of the conference. This is evidenced by the first-hand knowledge in which he describes the origins and life of the Conference, which is both refreshing and revealing of the book’s intent. It is refreshing in that it allows an “insider’s view” of the workings of the conference, absent in so many histories like this. This gives the book a depth it would not have with someone who was not nurtured and raised in the Conference. On the other hand, it is also revealing of the CMC’s Historical Committee’s “engaged approach to conserving and passing along the faith that marks the CMC story” (14). This approach may be necessary in this work, yet it does raise the question of objectivity. Any historian must balance intimacy with distance while demonstrating objectivity in the pursuit, processing, and presentation of the archival material at hand. This “familiar objectivity” is evident in much of Yoder’s work (the term is of my own choosing and seems conspicuously absent in many histories).



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