One of the items discussed by delegates at the Mennonite Church USA churchwide assembly this month in San Jose was an resolution proposed by a group called Menno Neighbors. It is an informal group that meets once a year and they have a pretty active listserve. The resolution was changed to a statement for discussion by the resolutions committee of the executive board so there would not be a vote, just discussion. I was one of delegates that signed in support of this statement (didn’t get on the printed copy because I signed to too late).
The resolution is a call for conferences to stop disciplining congregations for differences in interpretation of the Confession of Faith from a Mennonite Perspective and was written largely in reference to a number of congregations that have been disciplined or expelled from their conferences for being publicly welcoming and affirming of LGBT members (most recently Hyattsville Mennonite in Maryland).
The discussion at San Jose consisted of statements from two conference ministers (one in favor, one against) and then some table discussion and some time for representatives from the tables to speak to the assembly open mic style. Lloyd Miller of the Central District Conference (CDC) spoken first, then Kurt Horst of Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC). CDC has become a sort of sanctuary conference for some congregations that have been disciplined by their home conferences and AMC recently disciplined one of its congregations.
Here are links to the original statement and the text of Lloyd and Kurt’s statements. I’m not going to include my own commentary for now but I thought it might make some interesting fodder for discussion, I’ll likely chime in in the next days or weeks. I find the different arguments very telling of the very different approaches and truths in the Mennonite Church right now.
Some questions I’d love to hear y’alls YAR thoughts on:
- Do you find anything especially compelling/troubling or valid/invalid in one or both of these arguments?
- How would you summarize both statements? (both quick and dirty first impressions and more thoughtful and maybe even more gracious synopses are welcome)