Neal Blough, a long-term worker with Mennonite Mission Network, was recently named one of the 100 most influential Protestants in France by La Vie,
a Catholic weekly magazine.
Blough and his wife, Janie, have been working in France for 34 years. He is a 1972 graduate of the former Bluffton (Ohio) College (now Bluffton University) and holds an M.Div from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and a Th.D from the University of Strasbourg in France.
Blough teaches at Vaux-Sur-Seine
Evangelical Seminary, the Mennonite theology school in Bienenberg, Switzerland, and the Catholic University of Paris. Neal and Janie also serve on staff at Paris Mennonite Center
The October 22 issue of La Vie commemorated the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth and the influence of Protestantism in France. Part of that influence includes Anabaptists.
“Mennonites [in France] have a history as long as that of the Reformed and Lutherans, which is not the case for other Free Church Protestant traditions,” said Blough. “In the words of the magazine article, they represent a ‘small but essential minority’.”
“Naming Neal to this list underlines the importance of his ecumenical relationships,” said Linda Oyer, another long-term Mission Network worker and colleague of Blough’s. “[He teaches] a joint course on Reformation history with a Catholic professor and a Reformed professor at the Catholic Institute and also taught a course on the Catholic-Mennonite dialogue at a Jesuit seminary.”
Added Oyer, “It underscores the importance of the Mennonite non-violent position in the view of the magazine [and] highlights the place of Mennonites in a larger Protestant France.”
“Neal and Janie have embodied a long-term Anabaptist witness in France which has earned them respect and increased their impact as missionaries,” said Tim Foley, Mission Network’s director for Europe. “They are convinced, quite rightly, that the Anabaptist vision is a crucial part of the missionary response in post-Christendom Europe.
“This recognition is a wonderful testimony to [Neal’s] mission work,” Foley said. “It goes without saying that he is even higher on the list of influential Mennonites in France and in Europe!”