Monday, June 9, 2014

"If I Can't Get Along Here, I Can't Get Along Anywhere"

East Fairview Mennonite Church, July 1948
My friend and former student Debra Bender of Cape Coral, Florida, recently responded to my May 30 blog post entitled, "I'm Weary of Blessing Same-Faith Divorces". In that piece (which she read in the Mennonite World Review online site, "The World Together") I lamented the growing number of Mennonite church splits that have occurred in my short lifetime. 

I loved the following story she shared about her maternal grandfather William Kremer, whose family, including her mother, had always been a part of a 500-member East Fairview Church in Milford, Nebraska. Then sometime after 1954, just after Debra's parents moved from the area, that large congregation experienced a major split over some conflicts among the leadership that resulted in a three-way division.

Most of the Kremers left East Fairview, but not Grandpa.  

"Bill," they said, "aren't you coming with us?  We're all leaving."  

To which Grandpa replied, "Nope.  If I can't get along here, I can't get along anywhere."  

He died a member of East Fairview.

Debra describes her grandfather as a "really smart, down-to-earth, well-read man", believed to be the first Mennonite west of the Mississippi to graduate from high school, a fact of which the family was quite proud. 

But he also had a lot of God-inspired wisdom and common sense. As in, "If I can't get along here, I can't get along anywhere."
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