I wrote this yesterday before I read Angie’s post. Her thoughts on Dorothy Day and the church reflect very well my own thoughts. While Angie’s post is thoughtful, mine is angry. Maybe in a few days, I can manage thoughtful but for now, this is what I’ve got:
A Little Stunned
A couple days ago, as I was skimming through the Mennonite Weekly Review. I noticed this item on the front page. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and think, “well, they would wouldn’t they?” and I went on with my day. Now, the more I think about it, the saltier I get. Carol Oberholtzer, the chair of the conference’s Women in Leadership Subcommittee, said she “was a little stunned.” Well, I guess so. I mean, this is 2007, and they are having a vote on whether women can be ordained? LGBT people don’t have a chance there. Here’s what I have to say to all those “credentialed leaders” who took that vote: “well done, the church will be better for it.” No, I’m not just blaming the minority that voted against women and justice but all of them, and the rest of the Mennonite Church with them.
I’m left wondering why the Mennonite Church spends so much time scratching its collective head wondering: where are all the young folks? Well, maybe those young folk are scratching their heads wondering: why that vote fell short by less than one percent? Who are those 33.26% of credentialed leaders in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference who said “no thanks” to women’s gifts? Maybe they’re scratching their heads wondering: why do a bunch of men get to hold a vote in the first place (looking for a super-majority I might add) to see if women can be fully ordained pastors rather than just licensed partial pastors. Maybe they are scratching their heads wondering: why did the rest of the church fold to this conference’s demands to be allowed to discriminate at the time of the merger for the blessed “unity” of the church? They may be wondering: will the rest of the church have had enough yet or are they are still grasping onto the myth of “unity?” Thank God for this wonderful “unity” we have in the merged church. “Unity” just seems to be a codeword for “let’s keep the status quo because some powerful minority has held the church hostage.”
The funny thing about that “unity” is that it is false and it comes at the cost of some who aren’t fully allowed in. Does that “unity” apply to the women whose gifts were just “declined” by their own church? Does it apply to the current moderator-elect, Sharon Waltner? Or have her gifts and leadership also been “declined?” No, those women and others throughout the church were just told they are expendable for the “unity of the church.” “Unity” seems to be the reason we can’t have fair honest conversations about sexuality and equality for LGBT Mennonites. “The unity of the church” doesn’t seem to include some of the daughters and sons of the church. But we can’t talk about that, someone might get offended and leave, then where would our “unity” be?
Carol Oberholtzer also said “I don’t think it has quite set in what this means for our conference.” So, I’d love to hear what y’all think it means. Try to look past the rough edges of my post (it’s late and I’m a little salty) and post a comment on this. Are you rolling your eyes or are you pissed off? I’m reminded of that bumper sticker, “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” So, yeah, I’m angry, this is what my dissent looks like, it’s a little messy, a little radical even. The thing about dissent, you have to really care about the thing you are critiquing, otherwise, you’ll just give up on it and leave. It bothers me to see the church take two steps backwards and get a little less relevant. It bothers me because this is bad for the church.