New book examines the history of Mennonite youth ministry


A book chronicling the past 120 years of youth ministry in the Mennonite church hit the shelves this month. Bob Yoder, assistant professor of youth ministry and campus pastor at Goshen College, served as editor of the book, which is titled “A History of Mennonite Youth Ministry 1885-2005” (Institute of Mennonite Studies, December 2013. $26.45 US).

“It is a unique book in that the field of academic youth ministry is a young discipline,” explained Yoder. “I can probably count on one hand the books that have been published that have anything to do with the history of youth ministry.”

An important segment of any church body, young people contribute to the legacy of the church by continuing to uphold the church’s values and by participating in the greater community.

“A History of Mennonite Youth Ministry 1885-2005” is a compilation of 11 essays, each focusing on a different aspect of youth ministry. Yoder authored the introductory essay. Contributing authors include four Goshen College graduates and members of both Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Bob Yoder
Bob Yoder, assistant professor of youth ministry and campus pastor at Goshen College

Yoder began this project as part of his doctoral studies but set it aside for several years. Goshen College’s Maple Scholars program provided Yoder the opportunity to resume his research in 2008 with the assistance of Goshen College students, who helped steer the project.

“I first thought I would have students do research and then I would write a book,” Yoder said. “But as I was working with them, it just made more sense that they would write their own academic paper on the theme they were doing. So out of that I decided that if I did publish anything, it would be in this format with the opportunity to have students published.”

Goshen College graduates who contributed to the book include Jonny Gerig Meyer (2008), Matt Harms (2009), Anna Showalter (2010) and Josh Hertzler (2011). Other contributors include Randy Keeler, Barb Draper, Susan Allison-Jones, Dana L (Honderich) Penner, Anna Rehan and Kent Miller.

“The pages of this book present a collage of images that speak of our collective concern about passing on the faith that we treasure,” said Anna Rehan, a Mennonite youth minister from Langham, Saskatchewan. “They also tell us stories that inspire us, teach us and give direction and bearings for the road ahead.”

The book is published by the Institute of Mennonite Studies, a division of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and is available for purchase on their website or at the Goshen College bookstore.

—By Kelley Scholfield