Anabaptist Identity Conference
The Anabaptist Identity Conference (AIC) was first held in Sarasota, Florida, USA at the Tourist Mennonite Church during March 2007. It was an effort to create a place for conservative Anabaptists to hear challenging presentations on significant issues while not being judgmental about the differences between the various conservative groups. Nathan and Matthias Overholt, brothers from a Beachy Amish community in Sarasota, Florida, founded the AIC event in 2007 “to awaken the conscience and arrest the alarming desertion of our people from radical Christianity.”
By 2018 there had been 13 conferences, earlier in Florida and Pennsylvania, with later conferences in the USA Midwest. One observer at the 2015 conference in Indiana noted the attendance of persons from the Beachy Amish, Hutterite Brethren, Charity Ministries, Holdeman Mennonites, Mennonite Church USA, Old Order Amish, New Order Amish, first-generation Anabaptists, unaffiliated Mennonite churches, and other Plain Mennonite groups. Up to 600 persons have attended the later conferences, with over 100 more listening via a conference phone link.
Popular speakers at the conferences have included Chester Weaver, a Beachy Amish minister; Dean Taylor, a first-generation Anabaptist and former member of the USA military; David Bercot, a first-generation Anabaptist, lawyer, and writer on the Early Church; and John D. Martin of the Shippensburg Christian Fellowship in Pennsylvania. Issues have included nonresistance, sexuality, fundamentalism, the prayer veil, and evangelism among many others. Many topics are approached through a historical perspective, attempting to recover core Anabaptist values.
The AIC has embraced the use of Internet technology and makes all presentations available on its website. It has no formal structure, though the Overholt brothers remained involved in leadership in 2018.
The mission statement of the conference as stated in 2017 was:
- To propose the truth of the good news of Jesus (gospel) in subjects that are relevant for our times.
- To hold forth the ancient radical faith of those who’ve gone before us as examples for ourselves.
- To provide a forum where questions can be asked without fear of reprisal.
- To be too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives hoping thereby to stir up the apathy that each camp contains.
- A forum to be able to think outside of the box and question that which we’ve been told.
- To assist Anabaptist groups in strengthening the things that remain and sending them back to their camps to build up and encourage.
- To provoke Anabaptist groups to thoughtful consideration of Biblical truths lacking in their individual congregational settings.
- To provide fellowship for conservative Anabaptist groups.
- To respect all groups, bashing no one, and not encouraging sheep stealing but rather encouraging a building up of the church of Jesus.
Gingrich, Dwight. “What I learned at AIC 2015 about how to use the Bible.” Dwight Gingrich Online. 16 March 2015. Web. 19 November 2018. http://dwightgingrich.com/tag/chester-weaver/.
“Mission Statement.” 12th Anabaptist Identity Conference March 16 - 18, 2017. Web. 19 November 2018. http://www.anabaptistslive.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/12th-Anabaptist-Identity-Conference.pdf.
Preheim, Rich. “Conservative Anabaptists reject fundamentalism.” Mennonite World Review. 23 March 2015. Web. 19 November 2018. http://mennoworld.org/2015/03/23/news/conservative-anabaptists-reject-fundamentalism/.
Schlabach, Theron. “Opinion: Chasm between ‘plain’ and ‘liberal’.” Mennonite World Review. 13 April 2015. Web. 19 November 2018. http://mennoworld.org/2015/04/13/opinion/opinion-chasm-between-plain-and-liberal/.
Stella, Rachel. “Plain Anabaptist conference seeks common ground.” Mennonite World Review. 26 March 2018. Web. 19 November 2018. http://mennoworld.org/2018/03/26/news/plain-anabaptist-conference-seeks-common-ground/.
Stella, Rachel. "Sexual abuse among plain groups’ concerns." Mennonite World Review. 28 March 2016. Web. 19 November 2018. http://mennoworld.org/2016/03/28/news/sexual-abuse-among-plain-groups-concerns/.
|Author(s)||Samuel J Steiner|
|Date Published||'November 2018|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Samuel J. "Anabaptist Identity Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 'November 2018. Web. 15 Jul 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Anabaptist_Identity_Conference&oldid=165093.
Steiner, Samuel J. ('November 2018). Anabaptist Identity Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 July 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Anabaptist_Identity_Conference&oldid=165093.
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