‘Rule of Love’ letter, text and signers

Feb 17, 2014 by

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Denominational guidelines exist regarding the conduct of pastors. Those guidelines include consequences for pastors who bless Jesus-followers whose partners are of the same sex. … But speaking as a pastor, if I am asked to choose between adhering to those guidelines and welcoming and blessing someone, anyone, seeking to follow Jesus, I will welcome and bless. — Ron Adams, “The Rule of Love,”  The Mennonite, Nov. 1, 2013

Jan. 24, 2014

Dear sisters and brothers in leadership:

Ron is not alone.

Ron Adams, pastor of Madison Mennonite Church, wrote poignantly about how the church rejected his brother who was born gay. He points out that in its quest for theological purity, the church too often places the rule of law over the rule of love, putting itself at odds with Jesus. In the wake of his brother’s suicide, Ron makes clear which rule he will follow.

Ron speaks for a growing number of Mennonite pastors. Many of us feel called by Christ to welcome and bless LGBTQ people who are seeking to follow Jesus, which sometimes puts us at variance with denominational guidelines. Others of us, while not prepared to personally act against the guidelines, respect the discernment of our colleagues and seek a denomination where we can engage in the ministry to which God calls us without the threat of having credentials denied or removed or congregations sanctioned. We believe this openness embraces the heart of the biblical Good News, and furthers our growth as communities of grace, joy and peace.

We tell you this in part because discussions are now under way in various leadership settings about the future of denominational guidelines and polity. We urge you in your role as leaders to change church policies to make space for the rule of love; to make space for congregations and pastors who welcome and bless LGBTQ Jesus-followers. These Jesus-followers are our sisters and brothers. They are us.

Peace of Christ,

Adam Tice, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Amy Epp, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle, Wash.
Anita Amstutz, pastor at Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Albuquerque, N.M.
Anita Rediger, pastor at Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, Ind.
Arlen W. Epp, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart, Ind.
Art Smoker, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Mars Hill, N.C.
Barbara Krehbiel Gehring, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, Kan.
Barry Kreider, pastor at Pilgrims Mennonite Church, Akron, Pa.
Ben Wideman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harleysville, Pa.
Bert Newton, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Pasadena, Calif.
Beth Ranck Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harleysville, Pa.
Betsy Headrick McCrae, pastor at Glennon Heights Mennonite Church, Lakewood, Colo.
Bob Carlson, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Kansas City, Kan.
Bob Smith, pastor at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City, Iowa City, Iowa
Brenda Hostetler Meyer, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Brenda Sawatzky Paetkau, pastor at Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Brenda Walter, pastor at Fairfield Mennonite Church, Fairfield, Pa.
Brenda J. Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Eugene, Ore.
Bryce L Miller, pastor at Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Tucson, Ariz.
Carol Rose, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Chicago, Ill.
Chad Martin, pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Lancaster, Pa.
Charles Shenk, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Columbus, Ohio
Cheri Herrboldt, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Pasadena, Calif.
Chris Nickels, pastor at Spring Mount Mennonite Church, Spring Mount, Pa.
Clare Ann Ruth Heffelbower, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fresno, Calif.
Cynthia Lapp, pastor at Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Hyattsville, Md.
Cynthia Neufeld Smith, pastor at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, Topeka, Kan.
Dawn Yoder Harms, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
David Moser, pastor at Southside Fellowship, Elkhart, Ind.
Dayvid Graybill, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver, Colo.
Deron B. Bergstresser, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Don Blosser, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Dorothy Nickel Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Newton, Kan.
Doug Hostetter, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Evanston, Ill.
Duane K. Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton, Kan.
Ed Rempel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Littleton, Colo.
Edward B. Stoltzfus, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg, Va.
Eldon Epp, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Ransom, Kan.
Elizabeth G. Nissley, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster, Pa.
Emily North, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg, Va.
Glenn Balzer, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver, Colo.
Gwen Groff, pastor at Bethany Mennonite Church, Bridgewater Corners, Vt.
Gwen Gustafson-Zook, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Hal L. Shrader, pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church, Glendale, Ariz.
Heidi Regier Kreider, pastor at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kan.
Helen Hopson, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Austin, Texas
Helen Wells O’Brien, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, St. Paul, Minn.
Jaime Lázaro, pastor at Iglesia El Centro, Colorado Springs, Colo.
James M. Branum, minister of Peace and Justice at Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.
James Rissler, pastor at Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship, Atlanta, Ga.
Jane L. Dick, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Frederick, Colo.
Jane Thorley Roeschley, pastor at Mennonite Church of Normal, Normal, Ill.
Janet Elaine Guthrie, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
Jeni Hiett Umble, pastor at Living Light of Peace, Arvada, Colo.
Jill Gerig, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver, Colo.
Jim Miller, pastor at Covenant Mennonite Fellowship, Sarasota, Fla.
Joanna Harader, pastor at Peace Mennonite Church, Lawrence, Kan.
Joe Roos, pastor at Pasadena Mennonite Church, Pasadena, Calif.
Joel Miller, pastor at Columbus Mennonite Church, Columbus, Ohio
Joetta Handrich Schlabach, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Minneapolis, Minn.
John A. Esau, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton, Kan.
John M. Stoltzfus, pastor at East Holbrook Mennonite Church, Cheraw, Colo.
Jonathan Neufeld, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle, Wash.
Joseph K. Katva Jr, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart, Ind.
Juel Russell, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Salem, Ore.
John Kampen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Cincinnati, Ohio
Joyce Wyse, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Columbus, Ohio
Karen Cox, pastor at Boulder Mennonite Church, Boulder, Colo.
Karl S. Shelly, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Kathleen Temple, credentials removed by Virginia Mennonite Conference, Harrisonburg, Va.
Kathrine Rempel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Littleton, Colo.
Katy Heinzel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster, Pa.
Kay Bontrager-Singer, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Keith Espenshade, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster, Pa.
Keith Graber Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Kelly Carson, pastor at Mennonite Fellowship of Bloomington, Bloomington, Ind.
Kevin Farmwald, pastor at Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Klaudia Smucker, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fleetwood, Pa.
Lee Lever, pastor at Austin Mennonite Church, Austin, Texas
Lloyd L. Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Lois Harder, pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kan.
Lois Stoltzfus Mast, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen, Ind.
Lora Nafziger, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Lorie Hershey, pastor at West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, Philadelphia, Pa.
Mag Richer Smith, pastor at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City, Iowa City, Iowa
Marc Schlegal, pastor at Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship, Boise, Ida.
Margaret Sawatsky, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart, Ind.
Marilyn Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Boulder, Colo.
Marilyn Rudy-Froese, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen, Ind.
Mark Van Steenwyk, pastor at the Mennonite Worker, Minneapolis, Minn.
Mark Weidner, pastor at Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship, Cincinnati, Ohio
Marlene Kropf, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Port Townsend, Wash.
Marty Troyer, pastor at Houston Mennonite Church, Houston, Texas
Mary Jane Brenneman, credentials removed by Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, Albany, Ore.
Mary Lehman Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Matt Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Eugene, Ore.
Megan M. Ramer, pastor at Chicago Community Mennonite Church, Chicago, Ill.
Melanie Neufeld, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle, Wash.
Melissa S Roth, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Melvin D. Schmidt, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Hyattsville, Md.
Mervin Dick, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Frederick, Colo.
Michael B. Crosby, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, Ill.
Michael Schaadt, credentials removed by Franconia Conference, Bethlehem, Pa.
Michelle Burkholder, pastor at Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Hyattsville, Md.
Myron Schrag, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Nina Lanctot, pastor at Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite, Bristol, Ind.
Pamela Dintaman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Tucson, Ariz.
Pat Hostetter Martin, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg, Va.
Patricia Lázaro, pastor at Iglesia El Centro, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Paul Versluis, pastor at Shalom Community Church, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Phil Mininger, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Paoli, Ind.
Rachel Epp Miller, pastor at San Antonio Mennonite Church, San Antonio, Texas
Randall Spaulding, credentials removed by Southeast Mennonite Conference, New Haven, Conn.
Regina Shands Stoltzfus, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Richard L. Gehring, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, Kan.
Robert Kaufman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Kansas City, Kan.
Robin Walton, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Cincinnati, Ohio
Roger Neufeld Smith, pastor at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, Topeka, Kan.
Ron Adams, pastor at Madison Mennonite Church, Madison, Wis.
Rose Marie Zook Barber, pastor at Eugene Mennonite Church, Eugene, Ore.
Ruth Harder, pastor at Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, Kan.
Ruth Penner, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Newton, Kan.
Ryan Ahlgrim, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis, Ind.
Ryan Koch, pastor at Peace Mennonite Church, Dallas, Texas
Samantha Lioi, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Allentown, Pa.
Sandra Wiens, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Guilford, Conn.
Sheri Hostetler, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco, Calif.
Stephen Penner, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Reedley, Calif.
Steve Goering, pastor at Sojourn Mennonite Church, Fort Collins, Colo.
Steve Ramer, pastor at Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship, Fort Collins, Colo.
Steve Ratzlaff, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fresno, Calif.
Suella Gerber, pastor at Fellowship of Hope, Elkhart, Ind.
Susan Gascho-Cooke, pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Lancaster, Pa.
Susan Ortman Goering, pastor at Sojourn Mennonite Church, Fort Collins, Colo.
Sylvia E Shirk, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship, New York, N.Y.
Ted Grimsrud, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg, Va.
Teresa Dutchersmith, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Theda Good, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver, Colo.
Tim Schrag, pastor at Mennonite Church of Normal, Normal, Ill.
Tim Stair, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart, Ind.
Tina Schlabach, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Tucson, Ariz.
Tom Harder, pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kan.
Tory Doerksen, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver, Colo.
Trevor Bechtel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Vern Rempel, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver, Colo.
Vicki Penner, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lawrence, Kan.
Wayne A. Nitzsche, pastor at Perkasie Mennonite Church, Perkasie, Pa.
Weldon Nisly, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Seattle, Wash.
Wesley Bergen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton, Kan.
Willard Roth, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen, Ind.
Zachary Gleason, pastor at Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.

(organizational listing for identification purposes only)

Responses can be sent to the Inclusive Mennonite Pastors leadership team* at inclusivepastors@gmail.com.

*Chad Martin, Cynthia Lapp, Joanna Harader, Karl Shelly, Megan Ramer, Theda Good

Read more about the letter here: 150 appeal on behalf of sexual minorities in MC USA.


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