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Tenth Man becomes JoinHands


May 21, 2003
By Gordon Houser

New logo for JoinHands, formerly Tenth Man.

Winnipeg, Man./ Newton, Kan.—Mennonite Men, an organization related to both Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, wants its supporters to join hands in helping build Mennonite churches.

After more than a year of considering various options, the MM board agreed at its annual meeting in March to adopt the name JoinHands for its church-building program.

This name replaces Tenth Man, the name used since the program’s inception in 1983. While Mennonite Men promotes and develops men’s resources, one of its main priorities—and its highest-profile program—is its church-building program, which provides financial assistance to new congregations as they seek to buy or build their first meetinghouse.

At its meeting in 2002, the MM board agreed to look for a new name for the program and asked for suggestions. They received many. Among those making the final cut were MeetingPlaces, SacredSpaces and International Builders. The board deliberated several hours before coming to consensus on JoinHands.

Board members offered the following reasons for choosing a new name for the program:

  • The name should be inclusive, inviting all people to participate.
  • The name should be part of the transformation process of the new Mennonite Church.
  • The name should emphasize new relationships.
  • The name should fit into the missional emphasis of the church.
  • The name can revitalize the appeal of the program.
  • The name can be invitational, inviting new people to join.
  • The name Tenth Man has a dated historical reference that has little power to attract new participants.
  • The new name suggests participation with others in a significant project.

Glenn Ediger, a product designer in Newton, Kan., has created a logo for the program.

The earlier name, Tenth Man, comes from an old European Mennonite system of community organization in which the “schulze,” or village mayor, had one elected assistant for every 10 adult male property owners in the village. This “10th man” provided support in carrying out administrative duties and in making decisions.

Many felt this name was too obscure and had little meaning for those unfamiliar with the Russian Mennonite context. Another concern was that it was not gender neutral. On the other hand, a number of people liked the name and felt it unwise to change it.

Newness won out. Now MM is interested in letting people know that while the work of helping new churches with their buildings has not changed, the name for it has.

The JoinHands church-building program enlists members who commit themselves to contribute $100 twice each year to support new congregations. Members may be individuals or groups such as Sunday school classes or men’s fellowships.

While it comes under Mennonite Men, JoinHands is a lay movement, run mostly by volunteers from various regions. It has grown by 40 percent in the past four years, and in 2001 it signed up 70 members, the most in more than a decade. The organization has already made commitments for the next 3 years, with more requests coming and invites more people and churches to join in supporting the program.