Eastern Mennonite University

Fall 2006

Time to Reflect


This annual review can be viewed as a rest stop for Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) on its challenging, always-busy, often-exhausting journey.

It’s an opportunity for EMU to reflect on where it has been and where it is heading. See the “2005-06 Review.”

It’s a time to thankfully acknowledge everyone who has made this journey possible. See “2005-06 Donors.”

It’s a chance to look at the map and say, “Look how far we’ve come! Let us see where we need to go and how to get there.” See President Loren Swartzendruber’s reflection.

This past summer, a group of young Mennonites – most from EMU – turned the metaphor of a journey toward Christ’s kingdom into an actual cross-continental trip on bicycles. They called it “Bike Movement.” Their efforts reflected in many ways EMU’s mission and its experiential approach to learning.

On www. bikemovement.org, senior Timothy Shenk posted this pre-trip explanation for undertaking the 3,584-mile bike ride from July 0 to Aug. 25: "

I hope that Bike Movement will become a parable of God’s kingdom – a moving, pedaling adventure, both tiring and rewarding, that inspires, excites, incites, challenges, serves... Just as a bicycle has many parts that work together, so we work together for the kingdom of God. 'Let us run with perseverance the race set before us, looking to Jesus.'"

Shenk linked his interest in Bike Movement to his spring ’06 EMU semester in the Middle East. He returned with "renewed fascination with the world, new vision for Christ’s kingdom, and dif- ficult questions that I continue to struggle with… I continue to think about how the family of Christ can live and operate more faithfully, 'seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.'"

Ten college students or recent graduates – eight from EMU – completed most of the journey, with two acting as drivers of the support van. Another 53 joined the trip for shorter stints, including graphic designer Matt Styer, ’05, who took most of the bike photos in this magazine. (Styer is the creative talent behind the new look for Crossroads.)

The long hours together, the stops and meetings at numerous Mennonite churches along the route, provided time for reflection on what it means for a young person to be an Anabaptist or a Mennonite.

"The journey was a call for the church to reemerge as a movement rather than an institution," said the Bike Movement web site. From their online journal entries, it was clear that the trip was transformative. Shenk describes having a tire blow-out at 40 mph, as he barreled down a steep highway slope. He survived the experience with only a shattered helmet and road burn, but he derived this lesson:

"We need rest, not to withdraw from the scary downhills, but to ride them with care and confidence. We need rest to confront and comfort a restless world. Our rest means relaxation and activation; regrouping and refueling; enjoying the scenery and seeing the mountain ahead that we must climb."

–Bonnie Price Lofton, MA '04
Crossroads editor