The former Nebraska Conference or Bruderthaler Mennonites suffer from a variety of cultural handicaps. Our historic language is unwritten, we have no universities of our own to preserve and develop our culture, and our common “homeland” no longer exists. Perhaps critics such as Epp and Redekopp are a bit too quick to judge us for failing to maintain such an oppressed identity. Through our own fault, we have also managed to alienate ourselves from many of our co-religionists and fellow Anabaptists. Social and economic competition between our congregations and those of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) and General Conference were historically exacerbated to the point that while fellowship was able to continue, in many instances, a unity of communion was out of the question. For many of us, the decision to remove the Mennonite affiliation from our conference was painful but not nearly as destructive to our cultural self-understanding as our withdrawal from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
In my case, I have continued my grandfather’s close cultural affiliation with the Canadian Mennonite culture (a constant source of amusement to my non-Mennonite Canadian friends given my US citizenship). While this includes a common cause relationship to Anabaptist institutions in the United States, my lack of membership in a traditional Mennonite Church, and failure to attend a traditional Mennonite College have led me more and more into a cultural understanding of who I am rather than a religious conviction. This is coupled with a need to explain my pacifist and communitarian principles philosophically and politically rather than as mandates of a church.