Mennonites, Catholics Share Friendship Through ‘Bridgefolk’

hymn singKenneth J. Nafziger of Eastern Mennonite University leads singing from the Brethren-Mennonite hymnal and new supplement, “Sing the Journey.”
Photo by Jim Bishop

This year for the first time, Eastern Mennonite University hosted the Bridgefolk Conference, an annual dialogue between Mennonites and Catholics that began in 1999. Its purpose is to build friendship, said the co-chairs, Abbot John Klassen of Saint John’s Benedictine Abbey, and Marlene Kropf, minister of worship for Mennonite Church USA.

About 65 participants, mostly lay church members, took part in activities that included attending Mennonite and Catholic church services together in Harrisonburg, Va., and sharing a footwashing service at the conference’s conclusion. The informal, grass-roots Bridgefolk parallels a series of high-level ecumenical discussions, which Bridgefolk organizers hope will spread to the local church level.

footwashingThe Bridgefolk conference concluded with a footwashing service and agape meal.
Photo by Jim Bishop

A summary for lay readers of a five-year dialogue between Vatican and Mennonite World Conference representatives, entitled “Called Together to be Peacemakers