PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA
For the first time since the great schism of 1860, the General Conference and Mennonite Brethren will compete together in the Olympics under a unified flag. The United Mennonite Team is seen as a bold step toward eventually uniting the two conferences in the future.
“Our leaders may have their differences, but when it comes to the people, deep down we’re all Mennonites,” said GC speed-skater Henrietta Berg. “I have no problem skating a relay with a MBer…if any of them were good enough to make the team, that is.”
There was some worry that the MB athletes may defect to the GC team, but so far the relationship has been all about sports and not about politics.
“We even sang a hymn together. We sang 606, and they sang the Doxology. It worked out pretty well,” said Berg. “I had never been this close to a MBer before. They’re actually pretty nice people. Not at all like the media portrays them.”
Lutherans, traditional allies with the General Conference, have expressed their opposition to the unified team, stressing that the GCers need to stand their ground and hold the MBs accountable for their excessive water usage during baptism.
“Now is not the time for unification. If anything, we should have more sanctions against the MBs until they start singing ‘Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow’ with the proper melody,” said GC ally Herman Schmidt. “It’s time to take a stand.”
MB and GC athletes will compete together for the first time in the bobsled competition this afternoon, although there has already been some bickering about who will be in the front of the sled.