Brought into the Sun: Speaking Truth to Mennonite Colleges

By Erin Bergen, Stephanie Krehbiel and Hilary Jerome Scarsella
Into Account blog
July 8, 2019


In March of this past spring, Into Account received an unexpected invitation from Mennonite Church USA, the largest Mennonite denomination in the U.S., to present two panels at their biennial convention in July 2019, together with an offer for free booth space in the convention’s exhibit hall. While we were honored by the invitation, we struggled initially with whether accepting it made sense to our organizational mission. Mennonite conventions are historically abusive spaces for marginalized people. Our Into Account co-founder and Development Chair Jay Yoder, for instance, was the target of vitriolic, homophobic sexual harassment and profound spiritual violence at every MC USA convention they ever attended. We feared that any Into Account presence would legitimize us institutionally on the backs of people who do not receive such invitations.

Into Account panelists receiving a standing ovation, July 6, 2019

In the end, we said yes, and I think the reason why can be seen in the contents of the following video, taken on Saturday, July 6 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Rebecca Schrag, Anneliese Baer, and our Student Advocacy Coordinator Erin Bergen addressed a room of over one hundred convention attendees, made up largely of youth and the parents of prospective or current college students. When they concluded their powerful, instructive presentations, the whole audience gave them a standing ovation.

We knew the convention would provide a forum for speaking truth in ways that could meaningfully alter the seemingly insurmountable power dynamics that these women are facing at Mennonite colleges.

After Saturday, we’re hopeful. And dear readers who care about Mennonite colleges, what happens next is largely up to you.


Together, Rebecca, Anneliese, and I (Erin Bergen) created a space we were deprived of in our institutions of learning and exploration. We made space for anger, sadness, regret, tiredness, and justice. With the help of Stephanie Krehbiel and Hilary J. Scarsella, we felt validated and safe enough to name our abusers and the members of the administration who were complicit in the violence against us. We also called into the space people who were unable to be in the room with us: our fellow survivors who feared retaliation, people who feel unsafe in a space claimed by MCUSA, and folks who have never been welcomed by a church steeped in a history of colonialism, racism, sexism, and homophobic and transphobic violence.

We welcome you to join in this space with us through this video.








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