Franklin Conference proposes departure from MC USA

Nov 9, 2015 by and

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Franklin Mennonite Conference is taking steps to leave Mennonite Church USA, citing concerns over other MC USA conferences’ allowance of same-sex relationships.

A proposal to be discussed Nov. 12 during Franklin’s delegate assembly calls for the conference to withdraw from MC USA and remain without affiliation for one year to “seek new vision for FMC and where the most appropriate affiliation would be for the conference.”

Franklin has 14 congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Conference minister Allen Leh­man said a number of would withdraw from the conference if it did not withdraw from MC USA.

“If the vote were not to pass, I’m not sure about our viability [as a conference],” Lehman said. “Viability is really what’s at stake, I think, for us.”

He said congregational support for the conference staff would “come into question” if Franklin did not depart.

Moderator Ray Geigly said some of the congregations had wanted to begin the process of withdrawing from MC USA earlier, but the conference leadership had insisted on waiting until decisions were made at the MC USA convention this past July in Kansas City, Mo.

“If Franklin Conference did not withdraw, I don’t think we’d exist as a conference,” Geigly said. “Over half of the congregations are ready to move now, and we’ve been trying to slow that down.”

Both Geigly and Lehman said a vote would not be taken until February or March, when a special delegate meeting was likely to be called.

The proposal also states that “each congregation is encouraged to do meaningful work in how they will minister to LGBTQ persons both within and outside of their congregation.”

“The orthodox understanding is that homosexual attraction is not a sin in and of itself,” Lehman said. “Having the feelings or attractions is not sin; living into it is. I would want our churches to minister to all kinds of sexual temptations. All our sexualities are warped at some level. We all, at some level, need the Holy Sprit to bring order to that part of our lives.”

Lehman said there were no plans at this time for future affiliation, should Franklin vote to leave MC USA. He mentioned affiliation with the Evana Network, which formed this year in part due to concerns over same-sex relationships, as one possibility.

“I’m sad that this thing is dividing our denomination. That’s been a struggle for us,” Geigly said. “It’s reluctant on my part and Allen’s part, too.”

Lehman said: “I regret that the older generation, apparently, has a history of hurting those with same-sex attraction, and we need to repent of that. It’s not academic; it’s real among us. That’s a real issue in our settings here. It’s not that we’re not touched by it.”

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  • Conrad Ermle

    Obviously, this is just the beginning. MCUSA no longer speaks for committed Anabaptists who stand in the biblical tradition of Menno Simons. For a counter-cultural movement to accept what is politically correct is almost unthinkable. – Conrad Ermle

    • Charlie Kraybill

      Sometimes ideas originating in the counter-culture are accepted by the broader secular culture and become “politically correct.” The Anabaptist counter-culture radicals insisted that the church and the state should be separate, and that idea has now become accepted by secular society and is considered politically correct (a good thing!). The Anabaptist counter-culture radicals advocated for freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, and freedom of assembly, and those ideas have now become accepted by secular society and are considered politically correct (a good thing!). The Anabaptist counter-culture radicals believed that social and religious dissent/non-cooperation are valid means of effecting social/religious change, and now those ideas have become accepted by secular society and are considered politically correct (a good thing!). This also works in reverse. Secular society has come to recognize that slavery is an evil that cannot be tolerated in our modern world, and eventually all the religious “counter-cultures” (who insisted for centuries that slavery was “God’s will”) have evolved to become “politically correct” on the issue. Secular society has come to recognize that women are equal to men, and eventually all the religious “counter-cultures” (who insisted for centuries that female subordination was “God’s will”) have evolved to become “politically correct” on the issue. So your assertion that is it “unthinkable” for a “counter-cultural movement to accept what is politically correct” is fallacious. Political correctness is not automatically a bad thing. In fact, most times it is a good thing.

      • Craig Anderson

        Very well said, Charlie!

      • Conrad Ermle

        Charlie. Charlie. Charlie. You need to do some research on the Anabaptist history. You sound very political. — Conrad Ermle

        • Charlie Kraybill

          I’m in the middle of reading three books on anabaptist history at the moment. Please enlighten me as to what I’m misunderstanding. You are aware that anabaptism was a political and social movement as well as a religious one, are you not?

  • Bruce Leichty

    Thank you to Brother Lehman for reminding us all of the need for understanding and compassion as we implement our strongly held beliefs and properly resist political correctness. Hurt may be a result but it must never be a motive — even as it also dare not be a deterrent. Hurt can and often must precede healing, but in any case requires salve and kindness.

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