The 98 percent approval for a Beachy Amish Mennonite faith statement is misleading (see “Beachy Amish Define Beliefs”). By voting time, many had left; attendance was already down by one-third from last year. Opportunity for personal investment via voting did not reach most leaders. Second, Beachys prioritize consensus and look to authorities to define it. “Yeses” were more “OK, sure, looks fine to me, guess that’s what everyone wants” than strong support. Third, the document is redundant; the Dortrecht Confession and church-specific faith statements will remain primary references. Further, it is irrelevant to real issues facing Beachys. Diverse leaders are concerned with tangible disparities and consequences for meaningful solidarity. They long for body-defined clarity to know how to proceed. One relevant standard — against radio and television, approved in 1999 and overwhelmingly affirmed in 2010 and 2012 polls — provides clarity. A 2000 statement directs the bishops committee to initiate contact when churches “foster alienation from the larger body.” They first acted in 2001 when a church permitted radio. Chair David Yoder claims radio is left up to churches. By popular sentiments and Beachy polity, he is mistaken. The body would be surprised to hear their vision statement vote annuls the radio/TV statement. The statement’s legacy will be: the committee’s growing power in setting agendas, what is discussed or ignored; supplanting body-derived resolutions with ambiguous stands and organizational busyness; and setting precedent for committee members to follow personal interests rather than constituency sentiments. With no alternative organizational mechanisms among ministers, frustrated churches are liable to drop out.
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