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E-news from Jerusalem: MennoLetter

   
 
Glenn Edward Witmer publishes MennoLetter from Jerusalem. Witmer lives and works in Jerusalem, reporting on events and stories that are seldom distributed through the mainstream media.
   

Winnipeg, Man.—MennoLetter from Jerusalem is the name Glenn Edward Witmer has given to a new electronic newsletter he writes and produces from his home in Jerusalem. Originally from Ontario, Witmer represents Mennonite Church Canada Witness, Mennonite Mission Network, and Eastern Mennonite Missions in his bridge-building work with Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Israel.
Witmer's assignment is focused on providing information and input from Israel into North American church discussions at various levels. In MennoLetter he strives for balance rarely seen in the mainstream media; respect for all sides in the Middle East conflict is paramount.

In the first edition of MennoLetter, Witmer highlights the challenge Christians face in knowing how to respond to the historical conflict in the Middle East:

"There is no shortage of opinions on how to resolve the problems-doves and hawks abound, and talk is cheap, from the Knesset to Ramallah, from the US Capitol to Brussels. The problem for Christians is to know how to respond to the opposing voices, and where to take stand. We dare not seem to be on the fence-everyone expects us to takes sides, and the refrains make it clear: "If you are not with us, you are against us" …or similar thematic variations. Indeed, Christians have taken sides-and they are on every side. Christians debate among themselves which view to support, which is 'clearly the right position' to hold, and which side is 'clearly supported' scripturally. Someone who seems to be neutral is suspect-suspect of holding a view we wouldn't approve of."

Witmer's newsletter goes beyond being informative. He draws on Biblical scripture to engage readers:

Jesus wouldn't have said it better! Political leaders of his day often tried to pin him down, label him, determine whose side he was really on. ["Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?" That will find out whose side he is on!] Jesus refused to be categorized by the political definitions of his day, choosing instead to search for peace and justice wherever it could be found, and to press for it where it couldn't. A tough position to choose, of course-he was often suspect as a result.

MennoLetter is also challenging and addresses the basic tendencies of human nature in everyone:

It is easier for us take sides-in the company of others who give cover from attack-than to be suspected by both sides. The middle ground is not neutrality-it is a daring Christian reality. It's where we belong. We must oppose wrongdoing and injustice on every side, and determinedly search out and support peace and justice moves within each camp. Others will label us, to be sure. It's a label I'll take: One who works for peace, against those who work for hate.

Witmer uses excerpts from a variety of sources to tell stories, and offers news bits and quotes from politicians rarely published by the main stream media. But a word of warning: MennoLetter will stretch the reader. Voices from other Mennonite and Mennonite related agency workers also find a venue in MennoLetter.

Congregations and individuals are encouraged to subscribe. Simply email Glenn Edward Witmer at mennojerusalem@hotmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list. Subscribers are encouraged to post MennoLetter on their church bulletin boards, use it as discussion starter in adult education classes, and as a reference in advocating for peace. Issues of MennoLetter are also availalbe in News» MennoLetter