On the first day of Pride Month, the largest denomination of Mennonites in the country, Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA), announced that they had made some changes to their policies last month in order to become more open to the LGBTQ community.
During a “Special Session of the Delegate Assembly,” delegates voted to approve a piece of legislation that acknowledging how MCUSA’s official stance on homosexuality does “violence to LGBTQIA people by failing to affirm their full, God-given identities and by restricting their full participation in the life, ministries and rituals of the broader church.”
The legislation – aptly named “A Resolution for Repentance and Transformation” – was approved narrowly by delegates, and will change how MCUSA operates.
The resolution specifically criticizes the church’s 2001 membership guideline which prevents pastors from “performing same-sex covenant ceremonies.” It notes that this prohibition not only discourages LGBTQ people from joining MCUSA, it actively harms them and their families: often “forcing parents to choose between their church and their child.”
“Excluding LBGTQIA people harms not only LGBTQIA people and allies, but it also harms the full body of Christ. Such exclusion is a rejection of the witness of individuals, congregations, and conferences who live out God’s life-giving love in and through full affirmation of the lives of LGBTQIA people,” the resolution reads. “The legacy of the 2001 Membership Guidelines is in direct contradiction to the vision and calling of MC USA; they have given us conflict and loss, not healing and hope.”
The resolution also notes that the MCUSA “scapegoated” people of color as the reason for discriminating against LGBTQIA people, and blamed LGBTQIQ people for the departure of some people of color from the church, which had the additional effect of erasing LGBTQIA Mennonite people of color.
While the institutionalized denial of “covenant ceremonies” for LGBTQ people has been removed, according to Pink News, MCUSA congregations will still be allowed to refuse to perform such ceremonies for LGBTQ couples. Ultimately, the decision now rests upon the individual congregations and the pastors themselves. It also does not change MCUSA’s definition of a marriage being between “a man and a woman.”
“[We commit to] Follow the leadership of LGBTQIA Mennonites to provide support and resources for LGBTQIA leaders in the church. This should involve investment of denominational time and money,” the resolution states. “[And to] Embody a theology that honors LGBTQIA people and relationships with all future MC USA theological statements, including but not limited to future revisions [of MCUSA policy].”
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