Readers should note that this article was written in 1959.
In his earliest writing, against the "Blasphemy of John of Leiden" (1535), Menno Simons expresses the conviction that "Israel is yet to be converted unto Christ," basing this on Romans 11:26 and Isaiah 59:20 (Writings, 38). While neither he nor any other early Anabaptists are known to have made any special effort to win the Jews to Christ, such an interest has developed in this century, particularly among American Mennonites. In the Mennonite Church (MC) the pioneer in Jewish evangelism seems to have been Martin Z. Miller of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, who after informally witnessing for about 20 years, was appointed (1933) by the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities as a worker among Israel. Work of a rather permanent nature has since been undertaken not only by this board in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, but also (1940) by the Pacific Coast Mission Board in Portland, Oregon, and (1951) by the General Mission Board (Elkhart, Indiana) in New York City. In 1953 Roy and Florence Kreider were sent by a committee representing the Elkhart, Eastern, and Virginia mission boards to open the first Mennonite mission in Israel, now located at Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.
In Ontario five Mennonite groups co-operate in sponsoring a Hebrew Mission, located since 1957 in Toronto. An earlier (1920) joint enterprise in Chicago, sponsored by the General Conference Mennonites, Defenseless Mennonites, and Central Conference Mennonites, was given up after three years. Other attempts at Jewish evangelism, e.g., in the Ohio, Virginia, and Franconia conference districts (MC), also failed to develop into a permanent work. It is a difficult field for all denominations. Not only do Jews tend to persist in their historic repudiation of Jesus as Christ, but there are also problems in the integration of peoples who have been so long apart. There are at present a small number of Hebrew Christians in the Mennonite brotherhood.
Graybill, J. Paul. Jewish Evangelism. Lancaster, PA, 1950: 33-34.
Kaufman, Ed. G. The Development of the Missionary and Philanthropic Interest Among the Mennonites of North America. Berne, IN, 1931: 127.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1097-1098. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Fretz, Clarence Y. "Jewish Evangelism." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jewish_evangelism.
APA style: Fretz, Clarence Y. (1959). Jewish Evangelism. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jewish_evangelism.