MC USA board suspends appointment of gay member on committee

Jun 26, 2017 by and

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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.”

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