Home Page Photo

Dirk Willems

César Garcia, General Secretary of the Mennonite World Conference has described the photo of the etching we are using on top of our home page.

The story of Dirk Willems has captured the imagination of many people in the Anabaptist tradition. This image, based on Jan Luyken’s etching of the 16th-century Dutch believer (published in a collection of Anabaptist martyr stories) has become a source of inspiration for Anabaptists. It depicts the moment when Dirk, who had escaped from prison where he was being held because of his faith, turns to pull his pursuer out of icy water, after the latter has fallen through the ice.

Dirk's offering the hand of mercy to his pursuer cost something. He was returned to prison and later burned at the stake. This etching, and the story behind it, reminds Mennonites that living by your principles can be costly. Dirk Willems represents to many Mennonites the life they are called to live - principled and willing to stand by those principles even if it hurts to do so. We use it here because it visually and symbolically represents the aspirations of many Mennonites.