AMBS provides resources for sexuality conversations

Nov 10, 2014 by and

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ELKHART, Ind. — A collection of resources for conversations about sexuality is emerging from the work of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary faculty.

AMBS President Sara Wenger Shenk emphasizes that “listening to Scripture is our passion and joy at AMBS. Our faculty believes that being open to learn from the Scriptures is core to what it means to be a disciple. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary did, to listen and to learn.

“In that spirit — that we all have a lot to learn — AMBS faculty members are willing to share how Scripture has informed their faith and their thinking about sexuality.”

Available on the AMBS website, the materials are varied. Several emphasize the critical importance of biblical study. Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, associate dean for leadership education, calls church members and congregations to enter into regular engagement with Scripture in contexts where we listen to people who are different from us, led by well-prepared teachers. Loren Johns, professor of New Testament, provides a study of biblical texts about same-sex relationships.

Another resource in the collection calls us to pray for our enemies. Assistant professor of congregational formation Rachel Miller Jacobs developed this, she writes, “because divisive and difficult issues tend to call forth our enemy-making default habits.”

All pieces in the collection are from faculty or are larger efforts that include faculty contributions. Some draw on work done earlier, such as an explanation of polity in Mennonite Church USA in two videos created by campus pastor Janeen Bertsche Johnson. Additional documents coming in the future will provide worship resources on sexuality, explore theological discernment and look at the role of social media in discussions.

The introduction to these resources on the AMBS website lists several goals: “to relearn the spiritual disciplines necessary to hear God’s gracious Spirit in Scripture and in each other, to adopt a confessional posture in the midst of conflict, to be teachable.”

“I long for us as a people to listen with heart, mind and body to Scripture,” Shenk said. “To be willing to listen rather than to claim that we know already and absolutely what the Bible says. And we want to invite others to listen with us. But it is a risk. The Word of God is alive and active. We may need to be willing to change. To be born again.”

Resources are available online at ambs.edu/sexualityconversation.


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