Saying We Are Who We Are: Part 180 of Innumerable on GLBT Inclusion and the Mennonite Church

Okay, it’s not a total 180. Nor is the headline from Mennonite World Review, “MC USA Council Endorses Unity Statement,” exactly accurate. “Unity” is hardly the statement. For those who saw the article and want the TLDR: This is CLC’s decision. They don’t have any decision-making power, but they’re the wise ones of the church who make recommendations to Executive Board. They spent the last weekend in Kansas–joke’s on them–picking bones over three proposed resolutions around same-sex sexuality in an elimination round to see which one would advance to the Delegate Assembly in Kansas City this summer. There were other resolutions up for debate, too, but they were all noncontroversial ones, like “don’t kill people.”

Remember this?

Remember this? The final word will come from Executive Board, but they probably won’t stray far from CLC.

Since I’ve never claimed to be an unbiased voice in this process, let me restate which basket my eggs are in: the Chicago Resolution is my baby. Okay, not technically. There’s a lot more people who put a lot more gametes into this resolution than I did. But I’ve been midwifing this resolution since November, talking with leadership at both sponsoring congregations, examining drafts of the resolution, and I (and my co-pastors) are among the 12 individual pastors endorsing the resolution, listed at the bottom of the document. Continue reading

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Sex, Sanctions, and Overstepping Orthodoxy: Part 800 of Infinity on GLBTQ Conversations in the Mennonite Church

I can’t go on vacation for six days without missing a firestorm in the ongoing GLBTQ debates. In Part 800 of this series, it’s time to look at the survey MC USA distributed to convention delegates last week. Apparently, the pastor survey was so much fun they wanted to do it again, with more questions.

I’m only interested in one question today. The survey is already under fire for many things: re-asking the same questions to a broader audience; increasing polarization; asking people who have little knowledge of church polity to make decisions about polity. I’ve talked with two people who are separately annotating the survey–yes, you read that right. They’re creating a guide to the questions to explain what the questions are asking. Continue reading

State of the Mennonite Union: Pastors Week Recap

Most of us live day-to-day in the microcosm of one local church community. For the last four days, I’veĀ  tasted of the macro-North American church, trading good and bad news at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s annual Pastors Week. Here are top five moments for me, from longest to shortest (not counting the food, because the AMBS vegan chocolate chip cookie is its own theology and ecclesiology).

1. When it comes to GLBTQ debates, our denominational staff is close to hopeless. If you’ve worked with a conference minister or MC USA staff in the last year, you know this already. But it was striking how much of the week was burdened by fear of this summer’s impending sexuality “conversation” (or, if you prefer, “explosion”) at the Kansas City convention. Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, moderator of MC USA, spoke to us on Wednesday, which was also her birthday. Perhaps this statement is enough to explain why our denominational leaders are so hopeless.

I call her ESA because her name is 7 syllables.

I call her ESA because her name is 7 syllables.

This hour-long lecture was the most direct I’ve seen ESA–she talked race, sexuality, and ecclessiology. About 35 minutes in, she said, “I am married to a conservative man. We have struggled with the LGBT issue and we will never agree. But we will love each other anyway. But I don’t know if we have that love in the church.” During Q&A time, I asked, “You–and all of our denominational leaders–are tired. We, as pastors, aren’t getting any hope from you. If we can’t get hope from you, how do we sustain our optimism? What is your good news for us?” Continue reading