Arena (Periodical)

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Arena, edited by John D. Rempel (b.1944- ), was a monthly magazine sponsored by the Inter-Mennonite Student Services Committee (SSC) as a joint initiative of the three major North America Mennonite denominations, the (Old ) Mennonites who paid the editor's salary, the General Conference Mennonites and the Mennonite Brethren. It was published in Goshen, Indiana and noticeable for it was printed on bright yellow paper. It's first issue was October 1967 and its last of 21 issues each containing 8 or 12 pages was dated April 1970. The dates of issues usually corresponded to the university year dated October to December and January to April. It was aimed at both Canadian and America Mennonite university students. Rempel's vision was that Arena would provide a unique Mennonite voice from contemporary students experiencing a radical new environment away from family and church community as they engaged in the social, technological and spiritual challenges and opportunities encountered by life in the university.

Arena was published in the socially volatile decade now called "The Sixties." It was a time of counterculture, cold war and the relaxation of social taboos. The vision of Arena was to use student writers to provide creative and nuanced writings on the role of Christ in critical appraisal of conventions and theology of Mennonite Christianity. Rempel, a student himself, found many talented writers to provide contemporary and controversial texts but many pastors, church leaders and older church members found the writings unconventional, controversial even threatening and strongly criticized Arena. In the April 1970 issue, the last issue, Rempel expresses his disappointment, frustration and exhaustion at the failure of Arena to be vehicle to bring a form of unity or vision to students.

Arena was preceded in publication by The Student Services Newsletter of Newton, Kansas in the years 1961-1967. In November 1979 John Rempel emerged briefly again as editor now of a new student magazine titled forum, a successor to Arena which had the heading: "a forum for exploration, dialogue, and information published by and for Mennonites in the university." The monthly publication forum was directed to university students but it attempted to broaden the dialog between students and the wider Mennonite community.


Tiessen, Paul. "'It was Like watching my own Life': Moviegoers in John Rempel's Arena (1967-1970) and Miriam Toews Irma Voth (2011)." Mennonite Quarterly Review. Vol. LXXXVII, no.1, (January 2013): 49-71.

Author(s) Victor G. Wiebe
Date Published November 2019

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