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Where the People Go

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Where the People Go

by John D. Roth

A barn raising. A quilting bee. A credit union. A socially responsible investment.

Where the People Go tells the story of Anabaptist-Mennonite efforts to enable communal forms of sharing. Mutual aid, stewardship, and generosity are deeply embedded in the Christian faith and have been actively nurtured among Anabaptist-Mennonite groups. Spontaneous forms of assistance—a barn raising, a quilting bee, shared meals—are the best-known expressions of such compassion and generosity, but the commitment to “sharing one another’s burdens” has also found expression in more formal structures.

Seventy-five years ago, Mennonite Mutual Aid emerged to organize the principle of sharing within a growing Mennonite denomination. A dynamic organization from the beginning, MMA moved quickly from a burial and survivor’s aid plan to include health, property, and automobile insurance. In coming decades, the organization shifted its focus from mutual aid to stewardship and generosity, symbolized by a growing emphasis on socially responsible investment programs, wholistic health, financial planning, and services associated with its member-owned credit union. Always an agency of the Mennonite church, MMA, now known as Everence, has balanced its spiritual commitments with an increasingly complex regulatory environment, the national strains associated with the health-care debate, the shifting sensibilities of its customers, and the organizational complexities of a major corporation.

This story of Everence captures the stresses and idealism of a church-related institution committed to mutual aid, stewardship, and generosity during its seventy-five-year history.
 

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1 Introduction
2 Historical and Cultural Context
3 Creation of Mennonite Mutual Aid (1935–1945)
4 From Mutual Aid to Insurance (1945–1970)
5 National Context Intrudes (1975–1990)
6 Mutual Aid to Stewardship (1990–2005)
7 From MMA to Everence (2005–2013)
8 Everence Today
9 Conclusion: Margin of Difference
 
 

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