Let’s support the full Confession of Faith

Jun 18, 2015 by

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The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995 is a beautiful document. If you haven’t read the entire booklet, I encourage you to do so.

Currently the most talked about part of the Confession of Faith is one sentence in Article 19, which states: “We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.”

Ohio Conference recently passed a resolution based on the fact that the conference “believes in and upholds the entire Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995.” The action steps for the credentialing ministry team are as follows:

  • Will not recognize a congregation’s request to credential a pastor in a same-sex relationship.
  • Will suspend the credentials of any conference-credentialed pastor who performs a same-gender ceremony, until a review to determine whether to reinstate (with repentance and recommitment) or to terminate or withdraw credentials.

If “supporting” Article 19 means drawing a line to exclude same-sex relationships, then in order to “fully support” Article 19 that line must be extended to also exclude persons who are divorced and/or remarried. Article 19 says “one man and one woman” and it also says “for life.” To say that same-sex couples cannot be married in the Mennonite church while saying that divorced persons can is not “full support” of the Confession of Faith. Furthermore, to say that a pastor will have his or her credentials reviewed if he or she marries a same-sex couple, yet no such review will occur if a pastor marries a couple in which the husband and/or wife is divorced, is not a demonstration of “full support” of the Confession. It is picking and choosing a part of Article 19 in order to exclude a group of people. That is discrimination, and that runs contrary to the spirit of the Confession.

I believe that the way to fully support the Confession is by not drawing lines that exclude anyone. Let us truly uphold the Confession of Faith, which states:

  • Article 1: “We believe that God exists and is pleased with all who draw near by faith.”
  • Article 2: “Empowered by this intimate relationship with Christ, the church continues his ministry of mercy, justice, and peace in a broken world.”
  • Article 3: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal Spirit of God who is poured out on those who believe as the guarantee of our redemption. . . . “
  • Article 9: “Through the work of the Holy Spirit, divisions between nations, races, classes, and genders are being healed as persons from every human grouping are reconciled and united in the church.”
  • Article 19: “Even more, God desires all people to become part of the church, God’s family.”
  • Article 19: “We recognize that God has created human beings for relationship.”
  • Article 19: “Families of faith are called to be a blessing to families of the earth.”
  • Article 19: “The church is also to minister with truth and compassion to persons in difficult family relationships. As the family of God, the church is called to be a sanctuary offering hope and healing for families.”
  • Article 22: “We witness against all forms of violence, including war among nations, hostility among races and classes . . . “
  • Article 24: “In his life and teaching, he (Jesus) showed that God’s reign included the poor, outcasts, the persecuted, those who were like children, and those with faith like a mustard seed.”
  • Article 24: “We believe that the church is called to live now according to the model of the future reign of God. The church is to be a spiritual, social, and economic reality, demonstrating now the justice, righteousness, love and peace of the age to come.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of inclusion. Fishermen, tax collectors, lepers, Samaritan women, Syrophoenician women, Gentiles, a Jew who killed a lot of Christians — Jesus had room for all of them. Jesus showed us everyone is welcome, especially those on the margins.

To further understanding and dialogue, please watch “Through My Eyes,” described as: “A moving, thought-provoking look at the lives of young Christians who have been personally affected by this debate in the church.”

Sherri Waidelich, of Pettisville, Ohio, is a member of West Clinton Mennonite Church in Wauseon.

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