Bridgefolk Newsletter

June 2003 - no. 3



  • Updated information on Bridgefolk Conference, July 17-20
  • And don't forget the Martyr's conference, July 15-16
  • New to the Bridgefolk website
  • Features

  • Preview: Abbot John Klassen on the response of Saint John's Abbey to Victims of Sexual Abuse
  • Preview: Weldon and Marg Nisly on opposing war and witnessing for peace in Seattle and Baghdad
  • Preview: Marilyn Stahl and Dirk Giseburt on Mennonite delegation to the Sant'Egidio community in Rome
  • Sharing of Gifts

  • Requesting comments on proposed mission statement
  • Other needs: editor, prayers, and stories

  • News

    Update on Bridgefolk Conference, July 17-20

    In violent times, Christians are called to be salt and light, building and sustaining peace. But what sustains peacemakers in the midst of suffering and discouragement? This will be our theme as we reflect together on two major stories, in order to discern the spiritual practices that support a peaceful Christian response to violence:

    In addition, plans are now in place for two sessions exploring stories of dialogue and reconciliation, which is a spiritual practice as well: The time will also include shared worship and spiritual practice, as well as consideration of other spiritual practices that sustain peacemaking. There will also be time for visiting and enjoying the lakes and woods of the Saint John's campus. For more information, see...

    Martyr's conference

    This conference is being held to initiate an ecumenical study of the persecution and martyrdom of the sixteenth-century Anabaptist martyrs, the founders of the present day Mennonite and related communities. The conference will be the first time Catholics have publicly confronted these incidents, and the first time Mennonites have engaged in historical study of the martyrs in an ecumenical setting.

    News release

    New to the Bridgefolk website

  • Mennonite workshop explores use of creative arts in worship
  • Radio interview with Claudio Betti of the Sant'Egidio community in Rome
  • Abbot John Klassen, in a fit of Minnesota humor, takes a stand against xenophobia


    Preview: Abbot John Klassen
    on the response of Saint John's Abbey to Victims of Sexual Abuse

    "Saint John's Abbey has learned a wrenching lesson from the unconscionable acts of some of its members," wrote Abbot John Klassen in June 2002. "As Abbot, my heart has ached as I have learned more from victims and therapists about the long-term emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain that is caused by sexual abuse."

    Preview: Weldon and Marg Nisly
    on opposing war and witnessing for peace in Seattle and Baghdad

    "I have been shown unimaginable mercy by Iraqi and Jordanian neighbors these past few weeks," wrote Weldon Nisly (shown in photo) from Amman, Jordan last April. "How is it that so many who make claims to this same Jesus in my own country are so willing to twist the law into merciless bombs in a war waged on these merciful neighbors? What has happened to the soul of America willing to commit such war crimes?"

    Preview: Marilyn Stahl and Dirk Giseburt
    on Mennonite delegate to the Sant'Egidio community in Rome

    In early May, several Mennonites from the United States paused in the 16th century Church of Sant’Egidio in Rome. When Sant’Egidio was founded in 1968, its twin devotion to the Bible and the poor set the Community apart in Rome. Today, with 40,000 members worldwide, the Community has the support of Church leaders and has become a widely respected advocate both for the poor and for peace. Sant’Egidio had invited American Mennonites to visit their community in Rome after making contact through the Mennonite-Catholic Bridgefolk conversations in the U.S.

    Sharing of Gifts

    Requesting your comments

    The Bridgefolk steering committee has drafted a possible mission statement and is now soliciting comments from recipients of this newsletter as well as other friends and observers. Participants in any of our gatherings at Laurelville and Collegeville are especially encouraged to comment. The mission statement is available at To comment, please write to

    Other needs

    Newsletter Editor Needed: Bridgefolk needs a volunteer to take over the editorship of this newsletter. The editor will work with the steering committee to identify news stories, solicit feature articles and edit them for publication here and on the website. Please write to if interested.

    Additional volunteer opportunities may also emerge in the future. Please consider prayerfully how you might want to contribute to this developing movement. And don't wait to be asked! If you have ideas, let us know by writing to

    Request for stories: Our for the newsletter is that it can keep us in conversation between meetings and allow people who don't attend meetings to be involved in the discussion. We would like to invite you to further this conversation by writing your story, or a part of it, for future issues of this newsletter. Visit the following link: Then write to

    Bridgefolk Newsletter Statement of Purpose:

    While this newsletter will continue to change and evolve with the organization, its preliminary goals are to:
  • Facilitate communication between the steering committee and conference participants
  • Share conference information
  • Provide a place for people to find out about the Bridgefolk Movement
  • Alert you to new articles on the website
  • Report on and share information from conferences
  • Share reports, papers, stories and resources on issues of particular relevance to Bridgefolk
  • Encourage dialogue and connection among Bridgefolk, who are often geographically separated

    Bridgefolk tend to be passionate, committed, interested, reflective people. We are looking forward to your contributions of ideas, reflections, questions, prayers, helpful articles, experiences, stories, issues on which you would like others' thoughts, etc., to enable this newsletter to reflect you. If you will share your ideas, we will do our best to organize and present them. Address suggestions or letters to the editor to: