For Immediate Release
March 2, 2015
Becoming a Just Church Resolution
For Mennonite Church USA Convention, 2015
“A strong imagination begets the event itself.” – Michel de Montaigne
The “Becoming a Just Church Resolution” is a collaboration of numerous people’s imaginations about where God’s Spirit is calling Mennonite Church USA today. We believe that the current policies and practices which exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Christians from full participation and fellowship within MC USA have wounded and continue to wound individuals, churches and our denomination in a variety of ways. As Carol Wise, the executive director of the Brethren Mennonite Council, proclaims: “The resolution boldly calls our church to attend to the violence that it has inflicted upon LGBTQ people and our families. Healing and reconciliation will take time, but this resolution offers a small and important step towards that possibility.” This resolution is just the start of our imaginative work about the church that the Spirit is stirring us to become. As we live into these aspirations, we know the Spirit will expand our imaginations and further help us perceive of places in which we can work with God to share divine healing and hope in the world.
The churches and organizations supporting this resolution all note the need for us to lament the pain and suffering our denomination has caused upon those who identity as LGBTQ. They also express their belief that this resolution offers the good news of Jesus, not only for the LGBTQ community, but also to a church that has deeply strayed from the biblical and moral call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Joel Miller, pastor of Columbus Mennonite Church, states: “After three decades of intentional conversation, study, and prayer within our congregation, we have come to share in the same aspirations named in this resolution – to be a part of a church body which confesses its sins against persons who identify as LGBTQ and to fully bless and be blessed by such persons among us.”
If adopted, this resolution ensures that the spiritual gifts of all Mennonites are welcomed and celebrated in our denomination. People who identify as LGBTQ will have the same opportunities for membership, marriage, and ministry within the church as those who identify as straight and cisgendered. While individual congregations and conferences would not face discipline for exclusionary policies, an inclusive ethic would become the standard teaching position of the church. We firmly believe that the adoption of this resolution will help us more faithfully ask questions which improve the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.
We know that this proposed resolution will not completely resonate with everyone. However, our hope is that it stirs people and churches to have productive conversations about the gift of human sexuality, while also helping us envision how we can better become a just church. Even though the resolution has been submitted, we would love for other congregations to sign on. We have launched a website where individuals and groups can express their enthusiasm and support for this resolution. Above all, we pray that the “Becoming a Just Church Resolution” helps Mennonite Church USA become more faithful and vibrant.