Mission Statement

Bridgefolk is a movement of sacramentally-minded Mennonites and peace-minded Roman Catholics who come together to celebrate each other’s traditions, explore each other’s practices, and honor each other’s contribution to the mission of Christ’s Church. Together we seek better ways to embody a commitment to both traditions. We seek to make Anabaptist-Mennonite practices of discipleship, peaceableness, and lay participation more accessible to Roman Catholics, and to bring the spiritual, liturgical, and sacramental practices of the Catholic tradition to Anabaptists.

Toward these ends…

I. We wish to be a blessing to Mennonites and Roman Catholics.

We are painfully aware of past conflicts and misunderstandings between our traditions. Thus, as we promote the witness of Mennonite discipleship and lay participation, we seek to make fresh resources available to the Catholic magisterium, not to undercut its authority. Likewise, as we promote the resources of Catholic sacramental and contemplative traditions, we seek to rediscover not devalue Anabaptist-Mennonite practices of prayer, devotion and hymnody.

Specifically, we commit ourselves:

  • to respect the authority of official bodies in both traditions, being open about our intentions and vulnerable to counsel.
  • to support fully the international dialogue between the Mennonite World Conference and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Church Unity.
  • to challenge our respective churches and their official dialogue only in the spirit of Hebrews 10:24, which urges believers to provoke one another to love and good works, thus evoking the best of both traditions.

II. We promise one another an exchange of gifts.

Longing for the day when we can more fully share the sacraments, we rejoice in the gifts we already may freely share. Bridgefolk was born in the sharing of stories and song. These in turn witness to God’s grace at work through rich practices of peacemaking, devotion, discipleship, contemplation, and the doing of justice even to the point of martyrdom. Everything else we may do draws upon this source.

Specifically, we commit ourselves:

  • to host a series of annual conferences in cooperation with St. John’s Abbey with the central goal of sharing our stories, practices, and the gifts of our traditions.
  • to publish a regular newsletter in order to continue such sharing between conferences.
  • to offer resources to any regional Bridgefolk chapters as may form in the future, in order to facilitate their own storytelling and formation.

III. We offer a home-away-from-home to Mennonites and Catholics whose spiritual journeys sometimes lead to the puzzlement and suspicion of their families or primary Christian communities.

The leadership of Bridgefolk believes that the time may come when it will be possible to take the witness and charism of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition into the Roman Catholic Church without that witness being subsumed. For the moment, however, there are only imperfect ways to be both Mennonite and Roman Catholic. Many Bridgefolk already find themselves at home in both traditions, yet for that very reason, not entirely at home in either. We sense a responsibility to provide whatever pastoral support and mutual encouragement we can to “pilgrims” such as these.

Specifically, we commit ourselves:

  • to make all of our conferences places where lay people as well as scholars and clergy, women as well as men, and persons at various points on the Mennonite-Catholic “bridge” are all welcomed to participate and share their stories.
  • to build fraternal relationships with “ecclesial movements” and “lay associations of the faithful” such as Sant’Egidio and Focolare, which may offer models that allow Bridgefolk participants to be both Mennonite and Catholic.

IV. We hope to serve all God’s people.

Although we are a movement of Mennonites and Roman Catholics, we trust that the particular ways by which we dialogue, exchange gifts, and work toward fuller unity from the grassroots will contribute to the wider ecumenical movement and to Christ’s Church. Any mutual enrichment between the Radical Reformation and Roman Catholic traditions, after all, offers hope for integrating dimensions of Christian life that too often become split:

  • the sacramental life and the life of discipleship
  • the evangelical or pentecostal impulse and the institutional impulse
  • the active and the contemplative
  • the episcopal principle and the principle of lay participation

Specifically, we commit ourselves:

  • to publish resources that have been produced in and for our meetings, thus making them available to a wider public.
  • to encourage and explore additional projects that further the Bridgefolk mission.
  • to encourage and support related projects by Bridgefolk participants, whether or not organized through Bridgefolk.

Approved by Bridgefolk Steering Committee, January 2004
Reaffirmed by Bridgefolk Board in its Bylaws, May 2005