To summarize many stressful months as succinctly as possible: I officiated a same-sex wedding; the Leadership Commission of Western District Conference (Mennonite Church USA) found my ordination credentials in order; some people are not happy about this.
So, to those who are deeply troubled by my action and by the Commission’s decision:
I understand that you are upset.
I am, by nature, a rule-follower. (Really!) In elementary school, we had a rule against chewing gum. If someone in my class was chewing gum and got away with it, I got mad. If the teacher knew that person was chewing gum and let them get away with it, I was livid!
A trite example, I know. But I understand that I broke a rule. And got away with it. And this is upsetting to a lot of people. Both people who deeply disagree with my theology of sexuality, and people who have a deep respect for the rules of our chosen religious institution.
Please know that I did not—I do not—take rule-breaking lightly. I broke a particular rule against pastors performing same-sex union ceremonies because I believe this rule goes against the teachings of Christ. I would not go against the broader church’s teachings for anything less.
I understand that you are scared for the future of your church.
We liberals like to tell you: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty.” As if the authority of Scripture is a non-essential. As if the very core of our human identity is an issue tangential to our faith. It must be frightening to believe that so many of your fellow Mennonites are willing to compromise essentials of the faith in the face of secular pressure.
Please know that I, too, understand the teachings of Scripture to be authoritative for my life and for the Church of Jesus Christ. Please know that I, too, believe that our sexual identities and choices are important aspects of our faith and witness. I am an advocate for the church’s full inclusion of sexual minorities because of my commitment to scripture, because of the significance of human sexuality for the life of faith.
I understand that there is a point at which we can no longer function together as a church. There is one point for a local congregation, a different point for Conference affiliations, and still a different point for the national denomination. Unity is a wonderful thing, but not at any price.
I earnestly pray that you do not feel we are beyond the point of being able to be church together. We worship the same God. We follow the same Christ. We are empowered by the same Spirit to preach Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the oppressed. Together, we are part of a faith tradition that takes the teachings of Christ very seriously: to value people over wealth, peace over power, faithfulness over comfort, love over self-interest.
This path of Christ is hard to walk in the world today. I need as much help as I can get from as many brothers and sisters as are willing to walk with me.
The world desperately needs people to proclaim the kingdom of God in word and deed. That is what the church is called to do. That is what I would like to continue doing in fellowship with each one of you.
May the Peace of Christ be with You; may it be with us all,