Another conference to license gay pastor

Central District expects to join Mountain States in action that Mennonite Church USA’s leadership board has opposed

Oct 27, 2014 by and

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A second Mennonite Church USA area conference intends to license a pastor in a same-sex relationship, potentially putting it at odds with an Executive Board directive.

Central District Conference plans to license Mark Rupp, who was installed Sept. 21 as pastor of Christian formation at Columbus (Ohio) Mennonite Church.

Lois Johns Kaufmann, the conference minister, said the Central District board and ministerial committee affirmed their readiness to license Rupp.

Then she, several board members and the ministerial committee chair asked almost two dozen church leaders and pastors to offer their counsel to help decide when to hold the licensing service.

“Most of the people expressed a hope that we could wait until after Kansas City [the MC USA convention in July],” she said. “We are committed to doing a licensing service in late July of next year.”

The MC USA Executive Board in June asked that no area conference grant a ministerial license to a pastor in a same-sex relationship and said the denomination would not recognize such licenses.

The board issued its statement in response to Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s February licensing of Theda Good, a woman in a same-sex relationship who serves on the pastoral staff of First Mennonite Church in Denver.

Joel Miller, pastor of Columbus Mennonite, said the congregation’s calling process began before the board’s statement was released but that he recognizes hiring Rupp will be seen by some as biblical unfaithfulness.

“It’s significant that the same year the wider church adopted the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective it also adopted a statement called ‘Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love,’ ” he said. “We find disagreement to be a natural part of church life, and it is the hope of our congregation that when there is disagreement we can do so in a loving way.”

The Executive Board’s June report asks area conferences not to grant credentials to persons in same-sex relationships “unless the Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly changes the stated polity on same-sex marriages.”

MC USA’s Confession of Faith states marriage is only for a man and a woman. Its Membership Guidelines state that pastors may not officiate same-sex covenant ceremonies.

“Some of us feel called by God to open up a space in the church for further testing of another biblically sound option for our Christian LGBTQ brothers and sisters besides a lifetime of celibacy,” Johns Kaufmann said. “Central District is not of one mind on this.”

She said supporters of Rupp’s licensing are not asking those who oppose it to change their minds.

“We pray for grace as we respond to our Christian LGBTQ brothers and sisters in a manner that seems Christlike to us,” she said.

The MC USA Executive Board has said next summer’s convention in Kansas City will be “a time of significant decision-making regarding future direction” on the relationship of area conferences and the national conference.

Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, moderator of Mennonite Church USA, said: “I’m requesting all our brothers and sisters to submit to each other in love in the name of unity and wait until Kansas City, as the Executive Board requested. That way we live up to our polity and allow the delegate assembly, which has the ultimate power as one body, to have the opportunity to deal with these issues.”

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  • Bruce Leichty

    I guess I know at several levels how and why the Mennonite church in some quarters has been “taken over” by those who have such little regard for two millennia of human experience (and five centuries of Mennonite experience) regarding the unnatural and a-biblical act of same-sex coupling — after all, I myself was part of that “compassion requires it” movement decades ago — but it still pains me to see this masonic-friendly takeover. Please be aware that there are still some of us Mennonites, educated in modernity, well versed in our beliefs and culture, graduates of our institutions, who do not regard ecclesiastical endorsement of same-sex coupling as either inevitable or as the epitome of taking bold and pioneering action in the spirit of Christ — particularly when societal endorsement by a corrupted and decadent American Empire for “gay marriage” for other highly questionable reasons (peaking in the convenient canard of “anti-discrimination”) has preceded it or accompanied it. I would pray for Mark Rupp and Theda Good and for Mountain States and Central District Conference leaders, and for many others of like mind — just as I need to be aware of it in myself — a humble recognition of the capacity for self-delusion.

  • Fred J Morgan (Jeff)

    It is sad that the Mennonites have fallen to the sins of this world. Lev. States “lying with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination”. Though we are no longer under the law, the old testiment shows us God’s attitude on human actions. If God feels it is and abomination… I do not think the mind of God has changed to become ‘Politically Correct”. Grace fully given requires US to maintain an attatude of respect and worship of our God and to live as Jesus showed us. Perhaps these people now think Jesus condoned men with men or women with women because he does not specifically mention it. This is a way to justify a multitude of sins. Homosexuality, Beastiality, Incest all stem from man’s fallen state. What the Mennonite church is allowing is the attitude that excepting the Grace of Christ allows us to continue in sin. Really a shame. But lets be honest; the idea of bad publicity or the removal or falling away of churches is not wanted in these Christian ‘Industry’ of conferences… More people more money, More ignorance of Biblical standards the more sin. I am now very thankful our church removed itself from this type of oversight and now relies on Volunteer Bishops from outside our Church and our Elders to help maintain what is right.

  • Frank Candlish

    How can they do this when the Bible, God’s word, forbids it? Do they think they can override God and do what they please? Sin is Sin. Sin Kills (Wages of sin is death). I never would have expected this within the Mennonite Community.

    • James Foxvog

      And how is it love to condone or even bless actions which lead to death?

  • Johnny Stoll

    “She said supporters of Rupp’s licensing are not asking those who oppose it to change their minds.” What exactly do they want those who oppose it to do?

  • Craig and Karen Long

    Dear Friends who read this: May this message by Brayden Waller currently of Jerusualem, Israel
    comfort and encourage us all in our walk with Yahshua, the Messiah as we purify ourselves
    in light of His soon appearing.

    The Man and the Maid
    Proverbs 30: 1, 18, 19 “The Words of Agur the son of Jakeh….There be three things which
    be too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of
    a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; the way of a man with a maid.”

    In the mind of Agur the son of Jakeh
    The way was unknown of the man with the maid.
    The passion the purpose of this drama divine
    Makes all other riddles take second in line.
    What perplexed Agur has perplexed me too,
    And the answer remains that I have not a clue
    How love’s fires lit are like fine dry tinder
    That expands to a blaze no forest can render.
    From Adam and Eve to the Shulamite girl
    Romance has captured the heart of the world.
    A bachelor once lonely began a new life
    By trading a rib in exchange for a wife.
    Not that ole’ Adam had a say in the deal,
    But his Maker a story was soon to reveal.
    This story outstretches the sky in its span
    How a woman was formed to complete the man.
    From Eden this saga was launched to soar
    Through time and space till time be no more,
    How a man was humbled and cut in his side
    To supply from himself the needs of his bride.
    The first and Last Adam were looking for one
    Who would share in their dreams and leave them for none.
    The mystery is great but the intention clear
    Of the man and maid in the parable here.
    The great deficit staged is a man alone
    Who waits to be joined to bone of his bone.
    The wonder of waiting can only be beat
    By the time that the woman is finally complete.
    The goodness and favor that a wife does bring
    Makes the virtue of waiting a rewarding thing.
    There are three, said Agur, too wondrous to me,
    The eagle, the snake and the ship on the sea.
    The first couple flew high like an eagle in flight
    As they watched with their God arrayed in His Light
    Until the serpent so sly came to deceive
    The mother of life, the woman named Eve.
    The height that you long for your marriage to reach
    will be gauged by the measure of satan’s defeat.
    That serpent of old will meet his demise
    And the man of the maid will break through the skies
    To rescue the bride whose garments were purged
    As she went through the fire and spotless emerged.
    But till that day we are reminded well
    By the parable your lives live to tell.
    So as you go from here your ship to guide
    Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
    A haven is waiting at your journey’s end
    When you meet face to Face your Bridegroom friend.
    The journey will really begin at that call
    For that romance will be the crowning of all.

  • William Brenneman

    The two key words that Lois Johns Kauffman used in her statement are “feel” and “seems”.

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