Room for difference

Apr 1, 2019 by

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I appreciate Paul Schrag’s editorial (“A Common Struggle,” March 12), which says, “Let each [Mennonite Church USA] conference choose whether to allow same-sex marriages and LGBTQ pastors. This is essentially what is happening already. . . . How else can both wings of the church be freed to live out their convictions within the same body?” This is squarely within the spirit of the forbearance resolution, which I co-wrote and which the delegates passed in 2015.

My counsel to the MC USA Executive Board is to acknowledge that the forbearance resolution essentially modified Part III of the Membership Guidelines, making that section no longer operable. That leaves us with what Schrag describes: different conferences addressing the matter differently, and congregations realigning themselves accordingly.

Some may argue that the Mem­bership Guidelines resolution, which passed by a smaller margin in 2015, complicates what I am suggesting. But those of us who were present at the delegate session recall the widespread confusion over what that resolution meant. In the end, it was seen as a referendum on whether we should keep the denomination from splitting (which conservatives were threatening to do if it didn’t pass). But the resolution didn’t deliver on anything it hoped to achieve, and many conservatives left anyway.

The delegates in 2015 knew the only viable path forward was to make room for difference. It’s time for the Executive Board to acknowledge this and rid us of the divisive Part III of the Membership Guidelines.

Karl Shelly
Goshen, Ind.

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