MC USA leaders respond to area conferences considering departure

Aug 12, 2015 by

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ELKHART, Ind. — The executive committee of the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA sent letters Aug. 4 to North Central Conference and Lancaster Mennonite Conference, expressing a commitment to pray for and stay in relationship with each of them even as they make decisions about leaving the denomination.

NCC delegates passed a motion at their July 17-19 annual assembly to begin a yearlong process of withdrawing from MC USA. The following week, LMC leaders announced a withdrawal proposal that will be discussed over the next weeks before a final decision is made this fall.

The committee discussed the conferences’ decisions while meeting in Harrisburg, Pa., after the Mennonite World Conference assembly.

“As a leadership body within Mennonite Church USA, our Executive Committee longs for you to stay with us, for you to remain part of our church,” wrote members Patty Shelly, David Boshart, Phil Rich, Joy Sutter and Isaac Villegas. “You are part of us, and we can’t imagine our church without you, without our shared mission and ministry, without our communion in the same denominational fellowship.”

The letters expressed gratitude for the ways God has worked through the ministries and presence of NCC and LMC, for each conference’s desire to follow Jesus faithfully and for their support of the church’s mission across the world. The committee also noted that the Holy Spirit heals divisions between people in the church.

“ ‘The church welcomes all people who join themselves to Christ to become part of the family of God,’ we’ve declared in our Confession of Faith,” wrote the members. “We are the family of God together. Mennonite Church USA is committed to remaining part of the same family as you, and we will welcome you again and again, even as you separate yourselves from us.”

The letters drew on the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective in appealing for members of the church to stay together even when differences arise: “We believe that you are essential to our Mennonite body, as we are being built together into a dwelling place for God, a spiritual home for the good news of Jesus Christ in a world that longs for God’s love.”

See also: “In Lancaster proposal, some look for options

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