MC USA board suspends appointment of gay member on committee

Jun 26, 2017 by and

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board has suspended its appointment of a Seattle man to a churchwide committee after learning he is in a same-sex marriage.

“Board members acknowledged some missteps in the process that resulted in an uninformed decision to appoint Doug Basinger, an individual in a same-sex marriage, to the Leadership Discernment Committee,” a June 23 news release stated.

“Most of the EB members learned of the nominee’s sexual orientation and marital status some days after the board meeting.”

The board had appointed Basinger, who attends Seattle Mennonite Church, at its March 30-April 1 meeting. On June 19 the board suspended the appointment by a vote of 8 to 6. One member abstained from voting, and one was absent from the video conference meeting.

“Board members determined that they need more time to discuss and clarify policies on appointments that the EB makes of LGBTQ persons to denominational boards and committees,” the news release stated.

The board will take up the matter again at its Sept. 28-30 meeting and “seek to make a fully informed decision” about the appointment.

‘We need diversity’

In a phone interview, Basinger said he was disappointed his appointment had become controversial. He wished the board had a clearer policy so an uncomfortable situation could have been avoided.

“We need diversity in all its forms and adequate representation on boards and committees,” he said. “But I know there are others with differing views.”

The news release stated the board’s regrets.

“The EB is deeply sorry for the ways it has fallen short in caring adequately for the interests and felt needs of the whole church during this challenging time of controversy regarding same-sex relationships,” the statement said.

“Board members differ among themselves about whether the sexual orientation and relationship status of nominees are important factors for the EB’s appointments. Yet all of them grieve for the unwanted exposure and harm the EB’s process is causing Doug. . . .

“At the heart of the decision to suspend the current appointment was not the individual under consideration but a failure of the EB’s process,” the news release stated. “The board recognized that the appointment . . . did not in fact reflect the informed consent of the board.”

Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

  • Conrad Ermle

    Congratulations. This was handled correctly. It’s the right thing to do. – Pastor Conrad Ermle

  • Jacob D. Friesen

    Eight members of the board got it right in my judgement. Had Basinger been a confessing

    unigender Eunuch and a practicing Christian, there would have been no biblical reason to decline his appointment. Since he is however, in an ordained false ‘marriage’ relationship to another same sex partner, he is in clear violation of God’s Word on the matter. Without question, while Basinger may be in a redemptive relationship with Jesus and His Church through faith in Christ; since he has committed himself by an act of his own will to live a lie, his appointment to integral identification with the witness of the body of Christ would ‘tie God’s hands’ to His unclouded blessing on the church.

    • Matthew Froese

      What is a “unigender Eunuch”?

  • Vija Merrill

    The hypocrisy displayed in this instance is intellectually stunning and emotionally heartbreaking. Are candidates routinely queried about the ongoing fidelity of their heterosexual marriages? Are single members asked to account for the status of their chastity? What about unrepentant divorcees? How about those remarried after divorce? To single out one (highly debated) aspect of sexual relationships is unfair. The LDC itself makes reference to the fact that “Mennonite Church USA bylaws require the LDC to coordinate various requirements to assure that boards ‘provide broad representation of the life and composition of Mennonite Church USA'”. Those of us who are inclusive of homosexuality are present, and we are here to stay. We’re still waiting for the representation.

  • Rainer Moeller

    Basinger states the importance of “diversity”. But how “diverse” is this executive board? As I’ve said before, there is now a deep divide between the social classes, above all among the white population. Whites are nearly completely represented by members of academia or administratives of charities. (Oh, there’s in an honoured tradition the one and only rich businessman for to represent the side of the donors.) But where are the farmers? Where are the blue collar workers or the waitresses? At the moment, it is still better with the “minorities” (there’s even a “housewife” among them), but beware, within ten years, minorities will be represented by academics as well.

  • Jacob D. Friesen

    By ‘unigender’ I have in mind a male or female person with a native bent for one of the same gender. By joining the two denotations, I am simply indicating that this individual, while honouring his/her gender identity, is committed not to entertain the temptations involved in a biblically disallowed ‘marriage’ bond and naturally, to same sex relationships.

    • Matthew Froese

      Ah – It might be clearer to stick to terms like celibate if that’s what you’re aiming for. I know the way you’re using the term is found in Matthew 19:12, but many people would hear a call for people to make themselves in eunuchs as something more surgical!

About Me