My Aspirational Resolution

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*As of March 1, 2015, there is an official resolution that has been submitted to the MC USA Resolutions Committee. My original “aspirational resolution” was the starting point for the work that many people did to bring into existence the “Becoming a Just Church” resolution.


Some of you already know how I feel about the label “polarizing.” When Mennonite pastors signed a letter asking for space within the denomination, we were placed on one end of the polarity; those who said they would leave the denomination if inclusive churches were allowed to bless same-sex unions and credential LGBTQ pastors were placed on other end of the polarity. (An “exacerbated polarity”!)

I am hopeful that a resolution that promotes something like what the Rule of Love letter suggests will come before the delegates in Kansas City. And I hope that people realize that asking for space is not a radical, far-left position. It is a compromise position.

Here is the resolution I would like to submit for delegate consideration in Kansas City:

Whereas “the Bible is the essential book of the church,”1 the foundational document for Anabaptist/Mennonite Christians

Whereas “Scripture as a whole has its center and fulfillment in [Jesus Christ]”2

Whereas

  • Jesus offers hospitality to the outsider, the unclean, the despised (Luke 19:1-10; Mark 5:25-34; Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Jesus compels us to journey outside our comfort zones, to the land of the other (Mark 4:35ff, 6:45ff)
  • Jesus admonishes us not to judge or condemn (Luke 6:37)
  • Jesus risks the condemnation of religious authorities by associating with those they considered sinners (Luke 15:1-2)
  • Jesus receives the rejected with joy and without judgment (Luke 15:20)
  • Jesus teaches us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-47)
  • Jesus compels us invite and associate with the outcasts (Luke 14:12-14)
  • Jesus breaks rules to bring healing and hope (Luke 13:10-17)
  • Jesus welcomes all who confess him as Lord; even those convicted and dying on an adjacent cross (Luke 23:39-43)3
  • Jesus speaks in favor of overarching principles of peace and love over and against a strict adherence to ancient legal codes (Matthew 5:21-48; Matthew 22:37-40)

Whereas the current policies of MCUSA do violence to the personhood of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer) people by forcing them to choose between full acceptance by their denomination and living into the abundant life to which God calls them

Whereas the current policies of MCUSA communicate demeaning and destructive messages that contribute to many LGBTQ people leaving their beloved denomination and even their faith in Jesus Christ

Whereas the current “teaching position” of MCUSA falsely labels all physically intimate same-sex relationships as “sinful,” thus leading some Christians to question their worth in the eyes of God and, in some cases, to attempt/commit suicide

Whereas the ongoing conversation and discernment around issues of sexuality is being perpetrated at the expense of LGBTQ Christians

Whereas “justice delayed is justice denied”4

Whereas LGBTQ Christians are gifted by the Holy Spirit to contribute to the body of Christ as MCUSA seeks to “grow as communities of grace, joy and peace, so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.”

Whereas the exclusion of LGBTQ people and their gifts harms the life and mission of the denomination

Therefore, be it resolved that as members of MCUSA we will

  • Repent of the violence our denominational documents and policies have done to LGBTQ people and those who have sought to support them
  • Amend all church documents as needed to support full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life and ministry of the denomination at all levels of participation and service; such amendments will include but are not limited to: the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, the Membership Guidelines, and a Mennonite Polity for Ministerial Leadership
  • Provide a generous scholarship fund for LGBTQ students who wish to study at AMBS as a means of offering reparations for the many called and gifted people who have been refused pastoral leadership in our denomination
  • Extend grace and forbearance to those individuals, congregations, and conferences that will choose to remain in fellowship with MCUSA despite being at variance with the inclusive position of the denomination

1Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, Article 4

2Ibid.

3All of the bullets up to this point are from the brilliant paper Karl Shelly wrote for the Indiana Michigan Conference

4Martin Luther King, Jr.

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3 thoughts on “My Aspirational Resolution

  1. Thank you, Joanna! Let’s ask for our FULL position, not just a compromise position. This isn’t polarizing, this is holding up our side of the conversation.

  2. And you will force those of us who feel homosexual acts are sin to be partners with you in accepting that sin. You leave us no other option than to leave the denomination.

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