The Christianese word “evana” has been making the rounds on a few Christian news websites. The term “evana” is a blend of the terms “evangelical” and “anabaptist.” It refers to a recently re-organized network of conservative anabaptists.
For now, the term evana is being used to refer to a specific organization made up of anabaptists who are interested in preserving what they perceive to be the more conservative elements of anabaptist theology and tradition. For example, they want to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as “one man and one woman.”
But the Dictionary of Christianese isn’t so much concerned about the political waves that this group may be making. What’s more interesting from a linguistic point of view is whether this new term evana will start to be used generically to refer to any ol’ evangelical anabaptist or Mennonite, not just one who is specifically affiliated with evananetwork.org.
The word anabaptist has been pulled into these sorts of linguistic blends before. If you scroll past the definition for evana below, you’ll see definitions for anabapterian (anabaptist + Baptist + Presbyterian), anabapticostal (anabaptist + Baptist + Pentecostal), and anabaptismatic (anabaptist +Baptist + charismatic), which were all coined about a decade ago. If this group of linguistic blends is evidence of anything, it’s probably that anabaptists are good at making nice with the other kids on the theological playground. (Honestly, is there anybody the anabaptists won’t try to get along with?)
Some of the news articles published in April 2015 about the Evana Network seem to suggest that Evana is a brand-new organization, but the term evana was being used back in 2014 to mean exactly the same thing (i.e., anabaptist plus evangelical), and in fact the evana.net quotations cited in the definition below for 2014 were written by John Troyer, who is on the leadership team for this new incarnation of the Evana Network. So although the term evana has been receiving some fresh, hot press the last couple of weeks, the term evana and the concept of a network of conservative/evangelical anabaptists began in the summer of 2014.
evana n. [evangelical + anabaptist] A community of conservative anabaptists that began forming in 2014 as a reaction to what was perceived as increasing liberalism in the Mennonite Church USA denomination.
2014 John Troyer on evana.net (24 Aug.) : We are in a time of disruption as Mennonites. We have contrasting visions of what it means to be the church together. The strategies of the last 50 years have a been a slow migration to the left, and we have lost many, many churches from the more conservative side. Those who embrace the Evangelical Anabaptist perspective can easily become fractured and dispirited in the face of this trend. The result is that we focus on the question of whether to stay or leave. My prayer and hope is that we can be a strong network of like-minded congregations that live into the future that God has planned for us. The questions of affiliation will work themselves out over time, but what is needed now is the articulation of a vision and a way forward as we seek to remain faithful in our own contexts. We need a network, a sharing of voices, that is clear and strong, not co-opted by conversations that are far outside the needs and concerns we carry. This is a Network of Evangelical Anabaptists, those who would proudly wear this label. Evana is a way of bring together Evangelical and Anabaptist. Evana means “God is gracious.” It is this grace that we seek, through His healing power in our churches and in our lives. That is my prayer. 2014 evana.net/about (28 Nov.) : Evangelical Anabaptist Network (Evana Network) provides news, updates and information for a vibrant Anabaptist witness. John M. Troyer, Goshen, IN, is the editor and is developing partnerships with other pastors to help shape the content. 2015 evananetwork.org (13 Apr.) : In humble dependence on God, yet bold assurance of the Holy Spirit’s power, Evana is preparing to launch in September 2015 as a new ministry community for pastors and churches. We will credential and ordain pastors. We will be a place of connection and commission. We will be a network where Anabaptist and Mennonite pastors both come together around common theology and vision, and are sent out to make and grow disciples. 2015 themennonite.org (13 Apr.) : A new network of churches from both within and outside Mennonite Church USA announced its name and leadership team today. The name—Evana Network—combines “Evangelical” and “Anabaptist.” John Troyer is the transitional administrator for Evana Network. Troyer was the pastor of youth and young adults at Clinton Frame Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind., which removed its membership from Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference in July 2014. “The word itself—evana—means ‘to be restored,” said Troyer in an April 13 interview. “In our planning for Evana, we have referred to ourselves as coming together in our brokenness, and the idea of restoration in the name itself speaks to the longing we feel in our own lives.” 2015 mennoworld.org (20 Apr.) : Evana Network will be the name of a new Anabaptist group of churches set to launch in September. Evana announced its name—a combination of “evangelical” and “Anabaptist”—along with a transitional leadership team, a vision and a set of common values, at evananetwork.org on April 13. Congregations that join Evana can continue to be part of Mennonite Church USA or any other group. 2015 christianitytoday.com (24 Apr.) : In a move reminiscent of the splintering of Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Lutherans in America, a new network of churches is organizing itself as a conservative alternative to the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA). This month, the group announced its name: Evana, a combination of “evangelical” and “Anabaptist.” The network, which plans to launch in September, will adhere to Anabaptist theology, biblical authority, and covenanted accountability, according to its new website.
These other three blended terms were coined in the past decade:
anabapterian n. [anabaptist + Presbyterian] A Christian who identifies with aspects of the anabaptist tradition and Presbyterianism.
2006 kiwiblog.co.nz (16 Jan.) : If you had visited yesterday each one of the more than one hundred churches on the North Shore ranging through Methanglophalian to AnaBapterian Calathumpian Holy Rollers and asked ten people at each for their opinions on abortion and battery-caged hens you would find a wide range of opinions on both issues. 2011 jasongoroncy.com (27 Jan.) : I also omitted the Anabapterians (not thinking of anyone in particular) and the Angliterians. 2011 mennodiscuss.com (4 Mar.) : “Skyler, you could be an Anabaptist Reformed Mennobaptist Presbyter!” “I think you mean a Reformed Anabapterian.”
anabapticostal n. [anabaptist + Pentecostal] A Christian who identifies with aspects of the anabaptist tradition and Pentecostalism.
2006 christianforums.com (27 Nov.) : One very influential church of my youth was a home church of Pentecostals. We sang out of an old hymnal, but all of the songs were sung faster than they were supposed to…. I prefer a casual unison style with or without instruments. Throw in some hand raising and clapping and it is just about heaven. I guess you can tell I am an Anabapticostal. 2010 etsy.com (15 Jan.) : I’ve been a born-again Christian for 19 years. The best way I could describe my family’s faith is non-denominational, anabapticostal…. In other words, we believe in non-resistance as the Anabaptists do, but we also believe that God’s gifts of the Holy Spirit are still in operation today. So that means that there’s no particular church denomination that we adhere to—just following Jesus as best as we can from what we see in the scriptures. 2010 mytotalmoneymakeover.com (24 Jul.) : We are Anabapticostals (half Pentecostal and half Anabaptist—at least for now). I think [we are] the only ones. 2011 mennodiscuss.com (4 Mar.) : “My faith journey tells me that Reformed Baptist theology and Mennonite (Anabaptist) theology are kind of like theological oil and water; they don’t mix real well.” “Dan, that is why you need to become an Anabapticostal!” 2013 raptureforums.com (27 Oct.) : We now go to a church that calls itself Baptist, but it’s actually an Anabaptist church, or rather, an Anabapticostal church.
anabaptismatic n. [anabaptist + charismatic] Also (ana)baptismatic. A Christian who identifies with aspects of the anabaptist tradition and the charismatic movement.
2008 freeliberal.com (10 Jul.) : I’ve even been a Baptist myself. In fact, my first response when asked what variety of Christian I am is always “Baptist,” even though “(ana)baptismatic” would be more accurate. 2008 sightmagazine.com.au (28 Jul.) : If Obama and the Democrats can win over the evangelicals of America, it would be a huge story. We (if I’m even one of “them”—does an “(ana)baptismatic” count as an evangelical?) tend to vote Republican.