(Photo courtesy of Derek Yoder)

In the News: Icon by Derek Yoder ’23 graces cover of Anabaptist World magazine

An icon created by Eastern Mennonite Seminary alumnus Derek Yoder ’23, M.Div., graces the cover of the latest issue of Anabaptist World magazine. Yoder designed the digital artwork, titled “Christ of the Wheelchair,” for his master’s of divinity capstone project in 2022.

For his project, Yoder searched through Scripture, art and ecclesial history for symbols that display the image of God revealed in persons with intellectual disabilities, people who are central to his ministry. In the absence of such symbols, he developed an icon that serves as a “celebration of and blessing for my community, who bear the image of God.”

“When you meet someone with intellectual or developmental disabilities, do you recognize the image of God?” Yoder asks in an article in the issue. “‘Christ of the Wheelchair’ is a prayer for me, my community and the church. It emerged from the recognition that the church rarely considers people in my community when it contemplates the Image of Dei (image of God). Yet, in my community I encounter Jesus every day.”

Read the “Christ of the Wheelchairarticle online here.

Anabaptist World began as a print magazine in 2020 from the merger of The Mennonite and Mennonite World Review, starting with a circulation of 8,200 paying subscribers. It seeks to be “the flagship Anabaptist publication, in print and online — the place where a diverse community comes together to explore and strengthen Anabaptist values and encourage one another to follow Christ faithfully,” its website states.

In addition to the cover image, another article in the magazine issue mentions Yoder and Faith & Light, an inclusive worship gathering he leads for people with intellectual disabilities. The article follows the process of baptizing someone with an intellectual disability and the work that goes into ensuring it’s done in a way that reflects their relationship with God.

Read the article, “A baptism just a bit unpredictable,” online here.

“I am glad that Anabaptist World’s most recent issue celebrates the gifts and contributions of persons with disabilities in the Church,” Yoder said. “In my communities (at Pleasant View and Faith & Light in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County), my friends with intellectual disabilities constantly lead me to Christ. I’m grateful that Eastern Mennonite Seminary provided the chance to deepen my ministry in those communities.”

Yoder lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with his wife Laurie, a chemistry professor at EMU. He is the pastor at Pleasant View, an organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities in living out their goals for meaningful work, relationships and spiritual development. Pleasant View is a conference-endorsed ministry of Virginia Mennonite Conference. He worships at Shenandoah Valley Faith & Light and Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg.

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