Church is not Facebook

A reflection on the 2014 MC Canada Assembly

Jul 22, 2014 by

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My Saturday morning began with discord. I woke up, checked Facebook, and found my newsfeed full of statuses that made me feel sick. I couldn’t stop reading, every line filling me with anger. Who were these people glibly posting such hurtful articles? How had I let myself become vulnerable to their opinions by allowing their voices into my life? I rounded these Facebook “friends” up and without a second thought, clicked delete.

Mennonite Church Canada Assembly took place July 3-6 in Winnipeg, Man.

Mennonite Church Canada Assembly took place July 3-6 in Winnipeg, Man.

Later, I went to the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly and took my seat at yet another Being a Faithful Church meeting to discuss with Mennonite congregations from across Canada the topic of sexuality — specifically homosexuality. I sat, still angry about what I had read that morning, and looked around where we were all gathered in the Canadian Mennonite University gym in Winnipeg, Man. The air was tense. I listened as some spoke of their desire for the Mennonite church to be fully supportive of and welcoming to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, and I listened as others expressed their strong discomfort with that sentiment. I listened to people talk, and talk, and talk, in what felt like circles.

I had found myself again in the midst of discord, but this time I couldn’t bring about peace by clicking delete.

So what should I do? I am someone striving to be an ally of the LGBT community. I am good friends with several people who identify as queer. How can I say that I am part of a wider church body that still can’t decide what their position is regarding sexuality, and continues to alienate and hurt many people as the process drags on? These conversations feel unbearably slow for me. It is taking too long for the Mennonite church to decide how to love. So what should I do?

The thought that continued to tempt me throughout the weekend discussions was that maybe now is the time to flip some tables. Of course, unless you are Jesus, flipping tables is rarely the best way to express disagreement. And, although it is difficult for me to accept, the opinions that I hold passionately and righteously have the power, if expressed insensitively, to upset many in my church family in the same visceral way that caused me to delete friends on Saturday morning.

So, what should we do? Unity means listening. It means sharing. And even though it seems inefficient and frustrating and slow, working towards unity is admirable — radical. I can’t live in a bubble, surrounded and protected by people who think the same way I do, as comforting, strengthening and necessary as that can be. I need to be in dialogue, holding onto the wild hope that peace will be achieved.

I am a part of this church. This confused, fearful, conflicted, hopeful church. And together, united by the Holy Spirit, we are learning to not delete each other from the conversation.

Sarah Ens is a contributor to Canadian Mennonite‘s Young Voices blog, where this post originally appeared. She holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from the University of British Coloumbia and lives in Landmark, Man. She is a member of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

 


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