An open letter to the Mennonite family

Nov 14, 2014 by and

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We are Richard and Jewel (Wenger) Showalter. As church planters, missionaries, educators, mission administrators, parents and now grandparents, we have walked as part of the Mennonite family throughout our lives.

We love the Mennonite church and the broader body of Jesus Christ. Our lifelong passion has been to reach out to those who do not yet know Jesus. During the past 30 years, we have been privileged to do this in friendship with churches both in North America and around the world.

Now in North America the church is engaged in a wide-spread discussion which ranges through many denominations. Is homosexual practice part of God’s good creation or is it sin? Should same-sex covenantal unions now be included in our definition of Christian marriage?

Especially after reading Chester and Sara Jane Wenger’s eloquent appeal to change the church’s approach to same-sex covenantal unions, we are also moved to write to the church. We would love to agree with them because they are beloved elders (Jewel’s parents) and we want to walk in step with them. We resonate deeply with their call for compassionate, embracing love for all those in the LGBTQ community. We affirm that embrace.

See also “Lancaster Conference Terminates Minister’s Credentials.”

We are grieved with our many sins of self-righteousness, judgmentalism, homophobia and lack of compassionate love in the body of Christ for those with same-sex attraction.

But we believe homosexual actions are sinful and we should not attempt to craft a more inclusive definition of Christian marriage.

“Sin” is not a popular topic, and we all struggle with temptations. But we must go to war with them. Jesus loves us so deeply he died for our sins — our greed, violence, homophobia, pride, self-righteousness, all of them. God knows each of our particular vulnerabilities — different for every one of us. He longs to root out sins that take root so deeply within us that we accept them as part of our identity.

We know that Jesus himself was tempted in “every way” like us. Yet he was without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Now Jesus walks with us to overcome, to “find mercy and grace in our time of need.” He gave us the scriptures as a life-giving message from heaven. His love is both enormously kind and incredibly tough and transformative. True love cannot affirm what God does not, yet Jesus always meets us where we are.

We have been members of West End Mennonite Fellowship in Lancaster, Pa., for many years. We love to read its mission statement written in bold letters on the wall of a former bar, “We welcome all people into a safe and healing community in which we grow to be more like Jesus and join him in extending his kingdom to the world.” Yes, “all people.” Yes, “like Jesus.”

When the early Anabaptists debated believers’ baptism or participation in war with those who would later burn them at the stake, their persistent plea was, “Show us from the scriptures.”

We appeal to those who promote a redefinition of Christian marriage — “Show us from the scriptures.”

We don’t wish to be divisive or to split the church. We don’t wish to cause pain and rejection. We do not support discrimination or violence against people because of their sexual orientation or practice. But we do wish to be faithful to the word of God.

While some point to issues such as slavery, the role of women, divorce and remarriage, and circumcision as ones on which the church has changed its mind, we see in the scriptures new vectors on these subjects in the example of Jesus and the early church.

Slaves are urged to obey their masters, but also to seek their freedom. Women are told to be quiet in the church, but also to pray and prophesy. God hates divorce, yet “because of unfaithfulness” divorce and remarriage were permitted. Both Old and New Testaments point toward obedience and “circumcision of the heart” as being more important than a circumcision in the flesh. The church has followed these vectors.

But we do not see new directions in relation to sexual sin and marriage relationships. Here the New Testament teachings are even more radical and prohibitive than they were in the context of Old Testament culture. “Don’t even look at a woman to lust after her . . . ” “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” “Run away from all sexual sins.”

Though it would be much easier to flow with the seemingly irresistible current in contemporary western culture on this issue, we appeal, please “show us from the scriptures” where this is God’s ideal and intent since the creation of the world.

On what do we as Christians base our ethics? Many westerners since the 1960s have appealed to love, kindness and compassion. But was it kind and loving of Paul to discipline a church member on grounds of immorality (I Cor. 5)? Not unless we have a Biblical understanding of sin. Please “show us from the scriptures” where same-sex behavior is not understood to be sinful and under God’s judgment. Show us where same-sex unions are part of God’s creation ideals for marriage. Jesus quoted Genesis that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife . . . ” (Matt. 19).

Daniel was a man who stood alone in worship of the one true God in the face of the surrounding culture’s gods. Let us not bow our knees to an ethic of “kindness” and “love” outside the word of God. If the scriptures are to be trusted at all, God’s love is both kinder and tougher than many of our human understandings of it.

Kindness and love are nearly universal human values. We are privileged to have many kind and loving Muslim, Buddhist and secular friends. We talk freely about our beliefs, our similarities and differences. But we don’t assume that we are all part of the same worshiping community. We base our beliefs on different foundations, different authorities and a different relationship to Jesus.

Menno Simons’ favorite verse was, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11).

The Mennonite church in Ethiopia chose this verse to shape its name, “the Christ Foundation Church.” We think it is significant that they and the majority of the church in the Global South do not appear to follow the Western church in raising this issue. Let’s not be afraid to test our theological questions in the global hermeneutical community.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me . . . ” (Matt. 10:37). “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? . . . whoever does the will of my Father in heaven . . . ” (Matt. 12:48-50).

Jesus calls us to honor him above self, family, clan, tribe and nation. May it be so for us as a church!

Jewel and Richard Showalter are lifelong missionaries and members at West End Mennonite Fellowship in Lancaster, Pa.

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  • Anthony van Dyck

    I’m sorry, but you are on the wrong side of history on this issue. Your church of exclusion is decaying and will crumble. The church that builds communities based on love and compassion will survive.

    • John Gingrich

      Isn’t the point of this letter to say that as a believer we are not to be a product of history or culture? Jesus prays in John 17 “They (his followers) are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify (make them distinct) them by the truth: your word is truth.”

    • Bruce Leichty

      I would rather be on the right side of God than the right side of history. Many of our forebears felt the same. Of course we may differ on what God demands and allows, but let’s at least be invoking the right foundation. Thank you, Richard and Jewel, for being willing to risk pain and misunderstanding by exercising leadership on this issue.

    • David Layman

      I must have missed that report where people are flocking to the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.

    • Johnny Stoll

      If this acrimonious and caustic attitude is the norm with those for inclusion, it’s best we do part company. One of the most insulting comments I’ve seen to date.

    • Johnny Stoll

      The “church of exclusion”, as Anthony calls it, is not decaying and crumbling. The “church of exclusion” IS the church that builds communities and IS based on love and compassion. It will survive this conflict. This church welcomes all who enter it’s doors, young, old, saints, sinners, gay and straight, but what makes it exclusive is that it does not allow the world to control it. The church that allows secular culture to infiltrate, who twists scripture and waters down the gospel has a weak foundation. It may seem to be gaining ground but in the end, it will be the one that decays and crumbles.

  • Charlie Kraybill

    I find it difficult to believe that there are no Mennonite churches in the global south that are wrestling with the question of how (or whether) to include their gay members/friends. Just because we’re not hearing about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Unfortunately, there seems to be no means of direct communication between global south Mennonites and north american Mennonites, except via the mission agencies and their spokespersons. And I for one trust the word of missionary spokespersons about as much as I trust used car salesmen. Given the oft-repeated claim that there are more Mennonites in Africa than anywhere else in the world, why are there no on-line directories to African Mennonite congregations, or church offices, or church leaders? I recognize that Africa is a poor continent and probably the least connected region of the world. But surely, out of the 700+ congregations in Ethiopia, or the 700+ congregations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the 300+ congregations in Tanzania, or the 100+ congregations in Kenya, there must be many that have email addresses and/or web presences. Why is there no place on-line where one can even just see a list of the names and locations for the thousands of Mennonite churches in Africa? Personally, I would find it easier to accept the claim made here by the Showalters if I could hear it directly from a cross-section of the African Mennonite community.

    • Scott Coulter

      Charlie, if you are looking for an online presence of Mennonites in Ethiopia and Tanzania, this is the website of KMT (the Mennonite Church in Tanzania): and Meserete Kristos Church (the largest Mennonite Church in the world, in Ethiopia) has a (closed) Facebook group here: Of course this just scratches the surface of the diverse global Mennonite family.

      • Charlie Kraybill

        Scott, the Tanzania page has one yahoo e-mail address. As for Ethiopia, a closed Facebook group doesn’t really help me.

        • Merv Horst

          Hi Charlie Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship is a sister congregation with a Mennonite church in Bogata, Colombia. I know some people there. Do you wish for me to inquire further about the glbt issue with them?

    • Karl Shelly

      The Mennonite Church in Buenos Aires Argentina is inclusive and welcoming (and gay marriage is legal in Argentina).

      • Charlie Kraybill

        Thanks, Karl. I did not know that. I wish we could hear the story of the Buenos Aires Mennonite Church. And do they tango? MWR editors: Would this not make a great story for publication?

      • Herbert Reed

        Karl, thank you for that point and your earlier points about cultural trends. It seems to me that a fair minded analysis would conclude that one of the reasons many of the global south Mennonites are not welcoming is because of the culture they are in. But somehow cultural influences are okay for many in that context but not okay when we are talking about North American Mennonites. You are correct, a cultural analysis is much too simplistic and not a very reliable way of judging the rightness or wrongness of a particular moral stance. In fact, many of the advances for social justice went against prevailing cultural norms. For example, conscientious objectors led the way in changing the way mental illness was treated during WWII. Before that the cultural norm was to lock up mentally ill people with no real attempt to treat them as they were seen as untreatable. The history of caring for children with developmental disabilities is similar.

  • Kevin Haake

    Perhaps it would be wise to make sure we aren’t letting the perfect be the enemy of the good here, especially when our understanding of the perfect is incomplete. I will side with inclusion and compassion on this one, not exclusion.

  • Duane Ruth-Heffelbower

    As part of our trip to Mennonite World Conference in Zimbabwe, we visited Victoria Falls. That Sunday we attended the local Brethren in Christ Church. The congregation and its entire area conference had a terrible problem trying to help AIDS orphans. The BIC church expected to have as many as 25,000 of these children. Unlike the North American experience, women were as likely to be HIV positive as men. The preacher gave a hard hitting sermon against sexual promiscuity, the cause of the epidemic. We learned afterwards that this was the first time a BIC preacher in the area had preached against promiscuity. It is unreasonable to ask people who have not yet sorted out heterosexual morality to discuss same-sex issues. This would be true for everyone, not just people from the global south. It is way too easy to be against behavior you don’t participate in, while assuming that anything you and your friends do is moral, and biblical.

    • Scott Coulter

      To be fair, I don’t think I can recall the last time I heard a sermon against sexual promiscuity in my MCUSA congregation, and I wouldn’t claim that North American Mennonites (let alone Christians, or North Americans in general) have “sorted out heterosexual morality”.

  • Delores and Dave Gorter

    The word is pretty clear on the subject – we are not to allow ourselves to conformed to the standards of the world, but we are to be transformed by God’s word. Inclusion is a standard from the world, NOT the Word of God. On the contrary…the Word of God tells us to be separate….to be different. Jesus also warns us that the road to hell is very wide and many are on that road…while the road to heaven is narrow and few are on that road. That does not sound like inclusion to me – it sounds like that might hurt a few feelings. But the problem in these discussions always revolve around our feelings…this is NOT about us, its not about marriage…this is about a Holy God and taking Him at His word. The fact is Gods word calls homosexuality a sin…doesn’t matter how you spin it. It doesn’t matter how much you would like to change it…a sin is a sin – simple as that. I choose to ignore history, I choose to ignore political correctness, I choose to ignore changing feelings. I instead CHOOSE to stand on the Word of God which is my firm foundation. I CHOOSE to believe God’s Word which has been tested and proved time and time again. I CHOOSE to believe God’s word that defines sin and tells me to depart from it. I CHOOSE God’s Word and that should be the ONLY authority in this discussion.

    • Berry Friesen

      Delores and Dave, compare the approaches of Ezra and Paul. Each was as zealous as you are for God, God’s word and God’s authority. Yet one demanded purity on the front end, the other didn’t. One had a heart for mission, the other didn’t. One treated the wisdom of God as a possession, the other as sovereign and beyond the possession of any man.

      Sort that our, then consider the letters of Paul and very scandalous stuff was going on in the congregations he addressed, and consider the fact that the last section of Isaiah was probably written by a Jew who was excluded from the people of God by Ezra’s purity standard (see Isaiah 63:16), perhaps because he was sexually defective.

      Then imagine what Paul would say to us today.

      • Charlie Kraybill

        Sexually defective? What’s that?

        • Berry Friesen

          The writer may have been a eunuch. That’s speculative on my part, based on the prominence of that disability in the opening words of the text, which starts with chapter 56.

          • Delores and Dave Gorter

            The inclusion that the LGBT community wants is not biblical inclusion – they are two different things. Biblical inclusion means loving someone…even while they are in the muck and mire, but it does not mean we leave them there. Jesus loved unconditionally – but no one was left in their sin. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more…he was not accepting of her sin, but still loved her. Unbiblical inclusion means we accept their lifestyle whatever that maybe – regardless of whether it is sinful or not. Unbiblical inclusion says that to say something is a sin means you are really a hate filled person…that is what we are talking about here. There are many in the church challenging what is sin and should we be accepting of it? Should we accept the homosexual lifestyle and not accept a practicing prostitute? Should we accept gay marriage and not accept polygamy? Should we accept the ‘alternative lifestyle’ as normal and then condemn those who worship other gods? Where is the line we should draw? If we hold to a changing standard – then we hold no standard at all.

          • Berry Friesen

            OK, so biblical inclusion means a welcome combined with a call to change, to transformation. I agree. And more importantly, Paul agreed, but not Ezra. Are you still with me?

            So how long do you think Paul continued to allow rich people in “his” congregations to sue poor people in Roman courts, attend banquets and feasts where the emperor was honored and other gods praised, and enjoy occasional flings with prostitutes? How long did he put up with their lusting after the power and wealth the empire bestowed until he put them out of the church?

            We know he continued to welcome them for at least a couple of years after they claimed Jesus as their Lord. The assembly in Corinth was established in 52 CE and 1st Corinthians was written in around 54 CE.

            My point is that our sin is often deeply cultural, embedded within us as a false worldview and false desires. The new creation in Jesus reaches much that we in our U.S. congregation have not yet even started to address. So why-like Ezra-demand purity from gay and lesbian brothers and sisters BEFORE they even enter the fellowship of our Lord?

            We don’t require that of others now, not in regard to the wealth-and-status-seeking behaviors that we have absorbed from the empire of our time. No, all we ask is that others submit themselves to the gospel of Messiah Jesus, which will challenge those behaviors and their continued presence in our lives.

          • Charlie Kraybill

            Berry, the “inclusion with a call to change” that you’re recommending is not the kind of inclusion our gay sisters and brothers (and allies) are looking for. Your definition of “inclusion” still assumes that being gay is a sinful state requiring change away from one’s true nature. As long as you hold to that point of view, there will not be a meeting of the minds between yourself and the inclusion-seeking Mennonites (who are gay because God created them that way). What Paul said or did 2,000 years ago is quite irrelevant to this discussion. Paul was not God, nor were his words God’s words. You may have convinced yourself that you are navigating some middle position, or “third way” path, towards a solution. But in reality, your propositions place you firmly on the side of exclusion and condemnation.

          • Berry Friesen

            Charlie, here’s the demographic I try to speak for:

            (1) think both the progressive and traditional variants of the church have made much too big deal out of homosexuality; (2) roll our eyes when someone attributes this or that aspect of his/her personality or behavior to “God” or “the devil;” (3) take Jesus’ words about binding and loosing to mean we are responsible for shaping through clear teaching and self-discipline the assemblies that bear his name; and (4) find the Bible an invaluable guide for living, discerning and arguing with one another.

            Believe me, there are many Anabaptists in this demographic.

            If with you I believed earth is not my home, I’m just passing through on the way to something else that will be much better, then I would definitely be in your camp, Charlie. But from I can tell from the Bible, that’s not where Jesus and the prophets were.

    • Scott Coulter

      I applaud your desire to be faithful to our Holy God and His Word.

      From my own point of view, it seems that history and tradition-correctness and feelings are very much involved in the restrictive stance against same-sex marriage and the inclusion of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in our congregations. It seems unrealistic to me to think any of us can completely transcend our own humanity (or the humanity of the church, its political structures, and its cultural traditions) as we struggle to interpret and apply the Word of God.

      Saul of Tarsus was convinced that he was following the Word of God when he persecuted Jesus (Acts 9:5). He was convinced that he was protecting the purity, holiness, and separateness of God’s People by his zealous actions, but the Risen Christ revealed to him that he was persecuting the Lord himself. Personal experience convinced Paul, as well as Peter (Acts 11:8-10, 15-18), to alter their understandings of God’s Word about separateness, and about what is human tradition (Galatians 1:14) and what is divine word.

      It is true that scripture calls us to be separate and holy, but it is also true that scripture shows us surprising stories of inclusion, even inclusion of those apparently excluded by scripture itself, as in the story of Ruth the Moabitess (Deuteronomy 23:3 & Ruth 2:6, 4:10-12) and the story of the Ethiopian eunuch (Deuteronomy 23:1 & Acts 8:36-37). Jesus also welcomes those “sinners” who well-meaning, purity-minded Torah-followers wanted to exclude for the sake of the purity of Israel (Matthew 9:10-11).

      Of course Ruth chose to forsake her old identity and embrace Naomi’s God, the God of Israel (Ruth 1:16), and the Ethiopian eunuch put his trust in Jesus’ name (Acts 8:37-although this verse is not in all the manuscripts), and Jesus called all sinners to repentance (Mark 1:15).

      But our conception of repentance (turning to God, turning away from sin, transformation of mind/heart/inner being) and its relationship to identity is sometimes captive to our fallible and fallen human cultural perspectives.

      The idea that Ruth the Moabitess could be brought into the house of Israel was radical. And while she chooses to identify with God’s People and to worship God, she is still called a Moabitess at the end of the story (Ruth 4:10). Being a Moabitess is not a part of her identity that goes away with her “conversion”, although being Moabitess is what the Torah would exclude her for. Similarly, the Ethiopian eunuch is still a eunuch after his baptism (Acts 8:39). He may not have been born a eunuch, but he likely did not choose to be a eunuch. Yet being a part of God’s family requires only belief in Jesus–being a eunuch does not exclude him, despite Deuteronomy 23. Some in the ancient world in which Jesus lived and taught thought that “sinners” were sinners because of who their parents were, and Jesus corrects this mistaken belief (John 9:2-3). God’s children, the gospel tells us, can be called from the least expected places (Luke 3:8).

      That is why, it seems to me, even when we recognize the ultimate authority of the scriptures as God’s Word, what we learn about human beings from other sources can be highly relevant to our understanding of how God operates and who God welcomes. It matters if sexual orientation is real, unchosen, and unchangeable (at least for many people). Of course gay and lesbian people must repent to come into God’s Kingdom–just as heterosexual people must. But is being gay or lesbian something that necessarily changes with that repentance, or is it like Ruth being a Moabite? Is the astonishing message of inclusion from God that queer people can become straight and follow Jesus, or just that queer people can follow Jesus?

      We need to be careful about being influenced by the world and our fallen natures–natures which can be hastily fearful and judgmental of those who are different from us. I think we also need to be careful about excluding people from Jesus’ fellowship–especially people that we don’t even know. If we know LGBTQ people who demonstrate trust in Christ Jesus, repentance from sin, and costly discipleship, and who demonstrate these signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the context of their queer families, those experiences should be important as we seek to understand who God is, and who God includes in God’s own queer, unnatural family (Romans 11:24).

  • Ernest Eby

    Anthony van Dyck wrote: “I’m sorry, but you are on the
    wrong side of history on this issue. Your church of exclusion is decaying and
    will crumble. The church that builds communities based on love and compassion
    will survive.”

    This is how the mainstream Mennonites of the mid 20th century felt about the
    conservatives and old orders of their time period. They assumed that the plain,
    conservative wing of Anabaptism would not survive into the 21st century.

    The opposite happened instead with conservative Anabaptists eventually outnumbering
    mainstream Mennonites in North America.

    So perhaps we should be cautious about predicting things of this nature.

  • Leslie Horning

    I fully affirm Richard and Jewel’s identities as faithful followers of Jesus; as I fully affirm Chester and Sara Jane’s identities as faithful followers of Jesus. Both couples have served as missionaries, church leaders, educators, etc.

    I’m a little uncertain, though, what Richard and Jewel intend when they say, with regard to Chester and Sara Jane, “We resonate deeply with their call for compassionate, embracing love for
    all those in the LGBTQ community. We affirm that embrace.” In the context of all that follows, what does that “embrace” look like? How does one “affirm that embrace,” while at the same time argue for exclusion and for attaching the label of “unfaithful to Scripture” to their LGBTQ sisters and brothers?

    • Nita Landis

      I appreciate your question, Leslie. What does that “embrace” look like?

      I think Richard and Jewel answer your question in a general way with these comments: “His [Jesus’] love is both enormously kind and incredibly tough and transformative. True love cannot affirm what God does not, yet Jesus always meets us where we are.” And later: “If the scriptures are to be trusted at all, God’s love is both kinder and tougher than many of our human understandings of it.”

      My best understanding of what scripture says about homosexual actions is that they are sinful. I also believe that if Jesus were on earth today, we’d see him befriending practicing homosexuals. I so wonder what his interactions with them would look like. Based on the stories of his interaction with others that we have in the scriptures, it seems that people felt both accepted/loved by Jesus and convicted of their sin/need for change.

      The arena where my own genetics/temperament/natural inclinations have been most at odds with God’s good ways outlined in scripture is the arena of my emotions. I have been anxious for much of my life (to the point of struggling with a panic disorder at times) and yet God says in scripture “Do not fear,” over and over.

      Those who have loved me best have done two things simultaneously. They have initiated or maintained relationship with me, accepted me, shown me much compassion and kindness. They have also reminded me that a life of fear is not God’s intention for me, invited me to choose trust instead of anxiety, and refused to agree with me that a life of worry was a good thing.

      Grace and truth. Perfectly blended in the way Jesus loved. Dreaming of that perfect blend in me and in the church.

      • Leslie Horning

        I’m grateful that you’ve had a community that surrounded and cared for you in the “struggle” that you’ve outlined above. What a gift!

        But I daresay that no one has ever been denied church membership because of living with anxiety disorders. No one has ever lost their credentials because they “ministered” to someone living with anxiety disorders.

    • Sarah Frye Gingrich

      Leslie, simply change the sin and you’ll see clearly. If you had a good friend who flew into a rage and killed his wife, you would still love him, but nothing in you would support the murder nor the anger that had led to it. You would not start a dialog about a new understanding of murdering, nor try to make it palatable so that you wouldn’t have to reject something about someone you loved.

      • Daniel Miller

        It’s clear who is hurt in the case of a murder. Who is being harmed by gay couples who choose to live in committed relationships together?

        • Herbert Reed

          Yes, Daniel, I think you have spotted a “red herring” or maybe a “false choice.”

        • Steve Sweigart

          Daniel – is “who is hurt or harmed” the determining factor regarding the question on what is sin? Or is it on the basis of God’s Word? -Steve Sweigart

          • Daniel Miller

            > is “who is hurt or harmed” the determining factor regarding the question on what is sin?

            Yes, I believe it is. Jesus tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and he says we do that by loving our neighbor. When we do not love our neighbor we are not loving God. This is the most important thing Jesus came to teach, and it is from this teaching that I draw my definition of sin.

            A short aside: the word “sin” is a term from archery that means “to miss.” When you miss the mark, you pull out another arrow and try again. This implies that we are not perfect (how well we know), and are trying to do better. But we have packed a lot of other baggage into this word. In some circles it has a meaning that carries with it a price of eternal damnation. I do not believe this is what Jesus taught, and I believe we are better served, and can better serve others, by discarding that baggage.

            At various places in the bible there are lists of actions that one must do and/or not do. Many of these lists go so far as to say the things they forbid are sin. These lists are holiness codes. A holiness code is like fence, meant to keep the believer as far away from sin as possible. For various reasons in more recent times we have discarded some of the items in these lists, for example a man shaving his beard or stoning a disobedient child, while preserving others. Jesus continually criticized those who subscribed to holiness codes in his day. He admonished them to look beyond the letter of the law to relationships with real people, especially those against whom society discriminates.

            I believe Jesus teaches us that sin is a hurtful action carried out against another. If you hurt someone bad enough, it may take them a very long time to forgive you. This is a thing to worry about; it is how we make hell right here on earth. I do not believe in a god that holds us to an arbitrary list of things we should or should not do. I believe we are called to love each other and to forgive those who hurt us.

          • Linda Rosenblum

            Then how do you reconcile I Cor 6:18-19? Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, I think it is pretty clear that you can sin without doing “harm” to others. You harm yourself and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not everything we desire “naturally” is in God’s best plan for us regardless of how it impacts other or other consenting adults. Linda Rosenblum

          • Steve Sweigart

            I agree that the most important thing is to love God with our whole heart and that will then result in a love for our neighbor. If we see our neighbor doing something that could harm himself (or others) then it is out of that love that we try to warn him. For instance if he is climbing a ladder that is not secure, we would warn him of the danger he is in because out of our love for him, we don’t want to see him injured.

            If God calls something sin, and sin will keep us from God (James 1:15 “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”), is it not a heart of love that causes us to point out the sin? Really, to take something God calls sin and to excuse it, thereby confusing many, cannot really be a heart of love, can it?

            Sin will result in God’s judgement as Jesus illustrates here “…but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matt 5:22 (KJV). We dare not downplay the eternal consequences of sin as baggage that needs to be discarded.

            I do believe that there are “holiness codes” as you call them that God commands us to follow. Unfortunately, the 2 examples you cited are from the OT, so of course Christians don’t apply them today. However, Jesus gave us many in the NT that Christians are to follow – most importantly the one you first cited: To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

            – Steve Sweigart

    • Bonnie Raville Hutchins

      I agree… was Biblical and beautifully written…but careful to the degree where I felt uncertain of their stand. It seemed rather left open to personal interpretation. Love always speaks Truth kindly and with love. The truth is…practicing homosexuals will not…NOT inherit eternal life in heaven….but rather will be in an eternal, literal hell. Love warns~

  • Jeremy Yoder

    This public display of disagreement in the Wenger family demonstrates that the divide on this issue is not just between conferences or congregations, but between family members as well. It’s clear there’s disagreement and all the recitations of scripture and polity isn’t going to change that. The question is: can we as a church “family” disagree and remain in fellowship, or are we going to get divorced?

    • Thomas matheny

      Can a spring give forth bitter water and sweet?

    • Sarah Frye Gingrich

      Jeremy, heresy coddled will eventually poison the church from within; there won’t be a family at all to remain with.

    • Beth Weaver-Kreider

      Thank you for asking this question. Before I read this letter, I was feeling more hopeful about the possibility of living together with our disagreements. I want to try to commit myself to working together, but now? Will we always hit this wall? I want to simply stand on the side of welcoming all into the village of God. If people want to block the entrances with such fervor, then I think that might be a sign it’s not the right village…

      • Jeff Linthicum

        This is where the misunderstanding happens. We do not want to block the entrance, but the question is once they come in do we invite them out of lifestyles that are not pleasing to God? In all areas not just sexuality.

        • Beth Weaver-Kreider

          Thank you for helping me to keep my language honest. I accept the first part of your point there. Yes, just like I don’t want people to claim that I do not know how to read scripture because of my own particular stance on this issue, I want to be more careful in my language, to not simply assume that those who take a different position from me are not grace-filled and open-hearted. I do not know where we go from here.

    • Clayton Nisly

      Jeremy, fellowship is a product of agreeing, of being like minded. We don’t always choose who are friends and family are. But we can still choose to be friends. We can choose the church we go to and the people we hang out with. I doubt though that you will have coffee fellowship with someone you don’t agree with on some issues.

  • Philip Kreider

    It must be extremely difficult to ponder this explosive topic within the boundaries of two loves, one’s family and one’s faith community. Since I consider myself a member of this broader faith community I offer a few considerations. 1: I believe that we are not to be judgmental, in fact instructed so by Scripture, 2: I believe that we are call to love as God loves, the whole world, enemies, friends and family. 3: I believe we are instructed to be diligent in maintaining and strengthening our faith in our crucified Christ/risen Lord, 4: I believe we are instructed by scripture to be willing to be a faithful witness (martyr-witness) of the Gospel of Christ, including peace and justice, and 5: I believe, having listed the previous, the following from Revelation 22:11-13 NET Bible “The evildoer must continue to do evil, and the one who is morally filthy must continue to be filthy. The one who is righteous must continue to act righteously, and the one who is holy must continue to be holy. (Look! I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to pay each one according to what he has done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End!)” My Conclusion: For me I would much rather error on the side of inclusion, forgiveness and acceptance relationship with, than destroy the same by attempting to root out all the possibilities of weeds I may identify (fact is I/we may be in error in our identification efforts) before the harvest is fully ready. I would rather leave that sorting task up to Christ upon His return whenever God decides that time has fully come. Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

  • Derek Martin

    Dear Showalters,

    Your letter states that you “don’t wish to cause pain and rejection”, yet that is exactly what your words have done and will do. Your letter will enable Mennonites and other Christians to continue to reject gay children of God, pointing to your letter and saying “even his own daughter disagrees”, thus perpetuating a cycle of emotional violence.

    Yes, the rejection of gay children, brothers, and sisters is emotional violence. Researchers have found that attempted suicide rates and suicidal ideation among gay youth is comparatively higher than among the general population. Rejection by family and church may be only a contributing factor, but it is surely a factor.

    I know that in my own case, as a gay man raised in a Mennonite home, the moment when I understood that the church in which I was raised would never accept me caused me great pain. I’m fortunate that my immediate, and some of my extended family never rejected me, but they too have been caused pain; rather than allow the church to reject me, I rejected the church.

    You’ve asked to be shown from the scriptures why the Church should embrace a doctrine of inclusiveness, so I’ll point you to Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is on this verse (and others) that the Mennonite doctrine of non-violence is founded. And through this commandment, which Christ said is second only to Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”, I believe that Mennonites should espouse a new doctrine of emotional pacifism. Not only should Mennonites strive to avoid physical violence, but words and actions that cause pain should be avoided at all costs.

    Further, from Matthew 22:29 “Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Christ is clearly saying that the old laws governing marriage no longer apply.

  • Patrick Leaman

    “Show you from the scriptures”? Matthew Vines does a much better job than I ever could.

    • Beth Weaver-Kreider

      Yes, Matthew Vines speaks to the scriptural questions with much of the same clear and compassionate reasoning that I remember reading from people who wrestled with the problematic scriptural references to divorce and women in previous decades.

  • Loren Yoder

    How did we even get to this point? Fifty years has made a huge difference. People will “fight” for the opportunity to “marry” as homosexuals. They very well might win the battle in the MCUSA, but I fear for their souls at the end of the war. God is exclusive. Holiness demands separation from sin. Profesando ser sabios, se hicieron necios Rom. 1:22

  • Sarah Frye Gingrich

    Thank you, thank you, Richard and Jewel. It’s encouraging to hear your true, bold, compassionate, and biblical convictions laid out so lovingly and clearly. Dustin and I have been so grieved by the current heresies gaining ground within the Mennonite Church, but felt like we were alone in speaking out. It is an encouragement to hear from you both, people whom we respect deeply. Much love from Dustin and Sarah Gingrich

  • Johnny Stoll

    I don’t think a resounding “Amen!” would suffice. Thank you Richard and Jewel for speaking what any of us feel.

  • John M. Miller

    My brother and sister in Christ and friends “An open letter to the Mennonite family” saddens me because of the way it adds fuel to the current controversy in the church I love and because it seems to me that they have chosen to write in order to combat the influence of their aged parents. It also disturbs me because it perpetuates some of the cultural norms of prejudice and discrimination that until a decade ago prevailed in our society. Jesus exemplified a counter-cultural norm that gave acceptance to those marginalized by the society of his day. Instead, he taught us to love God supremely and love our neighbors as ourselves. Would God that we understood how these two loves cause us to resist some very human tendencies to despise those who are different from ourselves.

    Richard and Jewel rightly appeal, “Show us from the Scriptures.” Faithfulness to God’s Word incarnate and written has been my guide as I too have grappled with this issue. Three scriptural premises form the bedrock of my understanding. First, in Genesis, God says “It is not good for Human to be alone.” This word of God gives primacy to companionship as a basic need for human well-being. It is in the intimacy of marriage that the blessing of companionship is most fully experienced according to the Genesis account. Technically, the biblical understanding of marriage doesn’t involve civil law or societal ritual but is based on a commitment of two persons to join their lives. Only current society with its legal and religious stipulations requires these sanctions.

    Second, according to Psalm 139:13, a biblical view attributes the way we are born to God. Although there are still unresolved questions about how our sexual affection orientation is formed, it appears to be indisputable that it is not a choice but a given. I readily accept my opposite sex affectional orientation as a gift from God, and I affirm that my same sex affectionally orientented fellow humans may just as rightly rejoice in their nature as a gift from God. A serious error in the current debate is for people to claim God’s approval for the way they were born and condemn others who were born differently.

    Third, Paul in 1 Cor. 7:8-9 advocates celibacy as the most desirable mode for life, but recognizes that not all are capable of that norm. Marriage, whether for opposite or same sex affectionally oriented persons, is better than “to be aflame with passion.” I recently read a Christian Century article
    by Gerald W. Schlabach that makes the case in a much more carefully argued way than I have. In “What is marriage now? A Pauline case for same-sex marriage” Schlabach carefully sets forth a biblical argument. If Richard and Jewel are sincere in their desire to be shown from Scripture, they will need to give this serious consideration. I would also commend for their consideration the book A Letter to My Congregation by Ken Wilson (, an evangelical pastor of a Vineyard congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    I would further comment that the 5 or 7 texts cited to build a case against same sex marriage all address it in the context of idolatry, pederasty, or abuse of power in master/slave relationships. None address the issue in terms of followers of Jesus who seek to live their lives in humble obedience and for the glory of God.

    I recognize that with all our preconditioning and human limitations it is improbable that we will all see eye to eye on every detail of interpretation. Out situation is similar to that which Paul addressed in Rome in chapters 14-15 of his Epistle. The questions of circumcision, keeping of Sabbath, and eating of meats were just as serious to the Jewish and Gentile believers that made up the church. And I’m sure that both sides would have been able to cite Scripture and appeal to Jesus example as arguments for their firmly held convictions. But Paul appeals to them for the love of Christ and for the mission of the church that they not allow these issues to cause them to separate. He exhorts those with a more restrictive conscience not to judge the liberals and those with a freer conscience not to despise the conservatives. I believe that for the mission of Christ in our world today, we should hear this word. Let us love each other and walk together as God gives us light.

  • John Gehman

    Thank you Richard and Jewel for sharing a Biblical view of this issue and your repeated appeal to focus on scripture for the final word in this debate. That is so reassuring. Often overlooked in this discussion are some of the unfortunate natural outcomes of living out same sex relationships. Center for Disease Control reports that in some groups, up to 19% of men having sex with men are HIV positive; and that despite all the current knowledge on the topic. And, it is recognized that the most common source of HIV for women is contact with bisexual men. HIV is just one of numerous other STD’s that are disproportionally represented in these relationships. Nature itself protests against this. Nonetheless, as noted, scripture is clear on the topic.

    • Herbert Reed

      STDs are directly related to promiscuity, whether the relationship is same-sex or heterosexual. People in long term committed relationships are less promiscuous. So you should be supporting marriage for LGBTQ people if STDs are a concern. For lesbians and gays, the natural kind of relationship is a same-sex relationship. A heterosexual relationship would be unnatural. Scripture is clear to you on the topic. Please recognize that it is not clear to everyone on the topic.

  • Karl Shelly

    I find myself ever more exasperated with the common argument that “the other side is simply following cultural trends.” I wish we could refrain from that easy insult.

    Not only does it ascribe bad motives to others with whom we’ve probably had no conversation; not only does it simplistically pretend cultural trends flow in consistently wrong direction (the truth is some pockets of our culture accommodate homophobia and some resist it; some accommodate sexual permissiveness and some resist it); but following culture, in and of itself, is not and never has been a bad thing. It can be bad (when culture is turning in ways that are contrary to biblical values) and it can be good (when culture is turning in ways that are consistent with biblical values). For example, when our culture turned toward equality for racial minorities and for women (which were both movements that had greater speed in the culture than in the church), would we say such a movement was bad simply because it was a cultural trend? Of course not.

    My hope is that those who have read beyond their own propaganda can acknowledge that both sides to this debate have done their biblical homework and have made biblically-based arguments. The fact that we do not agree does not mean one side is biblical and one side is “flowing with the seemingly irresistible currents in contemporary western culture.”

    • Bruce Leichty

      Karl, I agree with you that “sometimes” culture turns and can be turned in ways that are more harmonious with biblical values (or the imperative of God or example of Jesus or however one might want to frame that) than previous manifestations of culture. But I think that Mennonites in particular, rightly suspicious of “the World” and conscious of the broad way and the narrow way, should also be rightly skeptical when this contention is made. The burden of proof is on those who contend that culture is changing to honor Jesus. Perhaps the bigger problem with same-sex marriage proponents, however, is the failure to acknowledge that (1) sexual relations between persons of the same sex necessarily moots use of sexual organs for the purposes for which our Creator intended them, and are necessarily barren; and (2) there is no consensus whatsoever, scientific or otherwise, that homosexuality is invariably genetic (or even ever genetic); plus there is great reluctance, whether understandable or not, on the part of self-proclaimed “gays” or their supporters to consider other possible causes such as early childhood influences or sexual trauma, known or unknown, and crossing of boundaries, whether experienced as loving or not.

      • Lin Garber

        Bruce, your point (1) also applies to: men who have had a vasectomy or women whose tubes have been tied, women who have gone through menopause, couples who have decided not to have children — just three examples of cases where marriage is permitted. As for the Creator’s intention, I would never be so arrogant as to assume that I know that intention better than anyone else, but please read Isaiah 56:3-5. Your point (2) may be superficially correct when it comes to consensus, but the work is still being done. The whole project of trying to discover The Etiology of Homosexuality seems often to be motivated by the hope that a “cure” can be found. But if there is a consensus at all, it agrees that there are multiple “homosexualities” with multiple “causes,” and that in most cases the orientation is innate and immutable and that great harm is done by attempts to change that orientation. That would be similar to many left-handed people once being damaged by efforts to force them to use their right hands for writing and eating, although I would argue that the damage is more intense in the case of trying to change sexual orientation.

        What so many supporters of the exclusionist side keep missing is that it is not up to us to judge what is or is not sin, and if that is their primary purpose, God will judge them for that. Two more scriptures for them all to read: Romans 2:1, “by passing judgment on others you condemn yourself,” and Galatians 3:25, “There is no longer….male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

        • Bruce Leichty

          You didn’t read my careful formulation closely enough. Among male-female couples, men who have had vasectomies and women who have gone through menopause and couples who have decided to not have children still use their organs according to God’s design, even if not for procreation. And are you sure you want to say that discerning God’s intention is “arrogant?” As a church we make judgments all the time, and so did the early church and so did Jesus. One must harmonize these verses about judging with actual New Testament practice. I see your thinking as the product of a relativistic culture which is reluctant to say what is true and what is not; I do not see biblical precedent for that.

          As to your protest that “the work is still being done” as to the etiology of homosexuality, what work do you mean? Scientists striving mightily to prove that homosexuality is genetically based? I am not impressed with research (and I am sure there is plenty of it) that has an “a priori” objective. There is research aplenty that could be done right now on the alternative theory of childhood trauma, if “gays” were willing to be open. Why isn’t there a study of the two Mennonite congregations that I know of, just by chance, where four (4) male peers in each congregation, unrelated, self-identified as gay during the 1960’s and 1970’s?

          Please don’t suggest that all of those who disapprove of same-sex marriage also hold that a “cure” is possible for those experiencing same-sex attraction. I try to be cautious about what I claim. Finally, the loaded term ‘exclusionist” is offensive and unfair to those who do not identify themselves as excluding people, only practices and sins — unless you are intending to label Christians as a whole exclusionist because most Christians do uphold the standard of Jesus Christ and the values he embodied and taught, and therefore necessarily disapprove of inconsistent values and actions. .

          • Herbert Reed

            “alternative theory of childhood trauma”

            That would be hypothesis, not theory. The notion of childhood trauma as a cause of sexual orientation does not come close to qualifying as a scientific theory.

          • Bruce Leichty

            You know not of what you speak. I am advised that thirty years ago already even an august assemblage of psychiatrists, professors and theologians from the Mennonite community representing the tolerant mainstream agreed that this was one of five factors, interrelationship not completely understood, that can lead to homosexual orientation. I would suggest it is significantly under-examined as a theory and that it is much more significant than an expedient “one of five.” Only blowhards and scoffers with an agenda want to completely discount it. They deny empirical evidence in the name of science but are in fact committed ideologues.

          • Herbert Reed

            “I am advised that thirty years ago” – Sorry but that does not count as empirical evidence. Check out the logical fallacy “appeal to authority.” So I am completely discounting it. I guess that makes me a “blowhard and scoffer with an agenda” in your eyes. I am happy to own the label as it is clear that you have no idea as to what constitutes empirical evidence.

          • Bruce Leichty

            You are free to discount it, free to insult me, and free to enthusiastically own the labels I mentioned, since my source is unimpeachable, himself an advocate like you are for normalizing same-sex unions, and some research on your part would no doubt confirm that this meeting took place. I simply do not have my source’s permission to use his name, but he is indeed an authority recognized in Mennonite circles including your own unique circles. And — are you suggesting that an appeal to authority is not involved whenever there is an appeal to empirical evidence? Empirical evidence is always mediated through some sort of authority. You are confused in your logic and in your terms, Herb. I am not going to do your research for you; you are the one issuing a shrill challenge to my statements, and you should know that I do not make statements that are not true.

          • Herbert Reed

            The insults (blowhards, etc.) are yours. Stating that you do not understand what constitutes empirical evidence in science is not an insult. The logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” has to do with citing as a source an authority without consideration of whether the person cited is (1) actually an authority in the appropriate field AND (2) whether appropriate scientific investigations support the reported results. Citing an anonymous authority does not cut it as qualifying as empirical evidence, regardless of whether or not they are in agreement with me – how is that relevant? And how am I supposed to look that up? I fail to see what confirming that a “meeting took place thirty years ago” where this topic was discussed would prove anyway. There is a lot we did not know thirty years ago when it comes to the science of human sexuality. When one makes a claim the burden of supporting it with appropriate citations is on the one making the claim, not the reader. I do not know that you do not make statements which are not true. I think that you believe them to be true but that is not the same thing. I will let others judge as to who is “confused in logic and terms.”

  • Nate Showalter

    Anabaptists have often been on the wrong side of history, especially on the question of war. People who are crucified are always on the wrong side of history. When they are crucified.

    Many gays are tired of being on the wrong side of history, and with American law rapidly being rewritten, they are now on the right side. In the case of slavery, rewriting laws was a step in validating a national charter that proclaimed “liberty and justice for all”. We are meant to believe that the same will happen with human sexuality, that our national charter should eventually embrace any and all forms of sexuality and marriage, as long as they are loving and kind.

    God is the right side of history, but in the meantime we have to interpret God’s word for today. And learn to live together and do church together in the breach.

    Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

  • PGregory Springer

    How many years, decades, has this circular argument been going around? The very first comment begins “The word is pretty clear on the subject…” which is stark evidence that the argument hasn’t gained much, or any, ground in all this time, because — with these differences — the word is anything but clear. Language changes and meanings change and understanding expands. One fact remains: LGBT people exist. They will be welcomed and loved in churches that welcome and love; they will love each other and other brothers and sisters in Christ, without reservation. Those who insist on hardening their hearts again and again, returning to their regurgitated dogma and pointing to the verses that they have twisted to fit their own desires, will earn their own reward. Woe to those who lead others astray into prideful exclusion and barely disguised hatred. Life in faith and love goes on. While bitterness and exclusion continue to blaze among the fearful, respectable, privileged and clutching, those living in love can grow with exponential wonder at this exciting time to be alive, to see the welcoming love of The Eternal at work in hearts today.

  • Fred J Morgan (Jeff)

    To Richard and Jewel Showalter While I am sure you are devoted in Your Faith. The Mennonite belief is not one of a church body but one of Christ and the Bible. Our Lord is one of love, but in the trinity we know that he can also be one of wrath. We know through the Bible of his thoughts of Man with Man and Woman with Woman. If we believe the very nature of God has changed they we do not believe in the same God. I myself am in a position of separation from my spouse.. even if the Mennonite Church changed it’s opinion on Divorce, God does not. Should i appeal to the Church to make changes because I may find another person who I LOVE and they LOVE me… By no means! We as fallen men (and women) seem to be on a downward spiral. As a society we continue to try to change the nature of God and the Bible to suit how we feel it should be. But in the end, we are not judged by our thoughts, nor by how we believe God thinks but instead by our Lord.

    I pray that you seriously pray and read again the Bible and review what Sin is. I honestly and sincerely fear that your beliefs are based on the new age belief that Jesus who offers Grace without change of heart or foresaking sin.. in the name of love. Outr Lord, died as a man, suffering our sins and offers Grace for all who believe, but this belief comes with a heart change towards God which helps us stir away from sin and to love our Lord more than our life in sin… We are given in the end 2 commandments; Love God with all our hears (ALL of Our Hearts, that means over our desires) and to Love our fellow man as ourselves (we are to love them knowing they are prone to sin just as we are but we also remember that some are without the true Grace to overcome desire and sin – For those in Christ though God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able). In this way we still love the Sinner but hate the sin. This is how we can still love those in sin, feel compassion for them, pray for them, help them but we must still NOT keep company with these who are in rebellion to God.

    Dear Showalters… It must be said that dissension must be dealt with also. Romans 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” For this and for the Love in Christ, I submit this letter back to you. Please be assured that as the world and even some of the Mennonite Church moves from God. it is important to maintain our faith to the utmost. Rejecting what is not from the Lord even when it hurts us as
    God’s fallen creation. i pray that this letter touches at least some part. I am not as knowledgeable as many but I am sure in my heart that homosexuality is opposite God’ heart.

    In Christ

    Fred J Morgan – a few verses follow

    – See more at:

    1 Corinthians 15:33
    Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

    – See more at:

    Galatians 5:19-21
    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    2 Timothy 2:22
    Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

    James 4:17
    Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17
    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

  • Edwin Wadel

    I find it hard to just lump in, divorce and remarriage, with slavery, women speaking and circumcision. I believe Jesus clarified this specific issue and He is recorded 4 times in the gospels, saying it is adultery to be remarried before the death of your spouse. John the Baptist dealt with this specific issue also, and he was hated and put to death for it. We can easily see the devastation and confusion this practice and preachers going along with it has had on the children. I think this confusion in our children is leading them to gross perversions that are now asking for legal and accepted status in the churches. Getting this issue wrong unlike the others is a direct curse on our children!, that is why it is warned about and repeated so many times by our Lord and His followers! Worse will come if this issue is continued to be ignored.

  • Brian-Cheri Siegrist

    So lovingly and eloquently written…Thank you. May God’s grace continue to flow through you and hold you up as you speak the Truth in love. I am interceding on your behalf.

  • Sharon Rice

    Richard and Jewel, you are a breath of fresh air. Thanks for your letter. I echo a hearty amen to the power of transformation that God desires to work in ALL of us!