Or How to Survive the Kansas City Convention:
- Attend the “Bound Together, Together Free” worship service: Tuesday, June 30, at 5 p.m. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. (Next to the Convention Center.)
- Offer prayers of thanksgiving that there will (finally) be a (convention-authorized) booth for Brethren Mennonite Council in the main convention hall. Go to that booth. Repeat as needed.
- Ditto for the Pink Menno room: Room 2504B (right around the corner from the Grand Ballroom on Level 2).
- When you go to the BMC booth and/or the Pink Menno room, pick up a list of the on-call Inclusive Pastors. Call one of us if we can help. At all. Really. Call.
- Show up whenever people are singing.
- Talk to people you don’t know. Learn their names. Find out about their lives. Why do they love the church? How are they trying to follow Jesus? What is their passion? If a conversation is bringing you joy, hang around and learn more. If it is making you crazy, walk away and shake off the dust. Make sure the other person sees you wipe the dust off the bottom of your shoe if that helps you feel better.
- Wear fancy underwear. Preferably with rainbows. Then, no matter what nonsense is coming out of someone’s mouth, you can think to yourself, “Yeah, but I have rainbows on my butt.”
- Carry a bag of M&Ms around with you. (You could also use Skittles . . . or for the hopelessly Mennonite, locally-grown organic soy nuts.)
- When someone says “ho-mo-sex-u-al,” eat one. Eat more if “homosexual” is followed by a term such as “issue,” “lifestyle,” or “agenda.” You can also eat a couple of extra M&Ms if “homosexual” is preceded by “openly,” “practicing,” or, my personal favorite borrowed from the United Methodists, “self-avowed.”
- Eat an M&M whenever you hear a favorite Executive Board buzzword. These include, but are not limited to: polity, missional, third-way, unity and polarities. If anyone starts to talk about “exacerbating polarities,” just go ahead and pop ten M&Ms in your mouth.
- Other M&M-worthy phrases include: “the Bible is clear,” “just be patient,” “Sodom and Gomorrah,” “love the sin, hate the sinner,” and “the church has always believed.”
- When your M&Ms are gone, go to the Pink Menno room for the rest of the day.
- Pray every day. The psalms are a rich resource in how to pray when we are angry, scared, cocky, heart-broken, devastated . . . It’s OK to start with old-school smiting prayers. God can handle strong emotions. And swear words. If you can manage it, move on from there to more Jesusy prayers. If all else fails, recite the Lord’s Prayer. Until you mean it.
- Remember that Mennonite Church USA is not The Church. It is a church. It is my church. It is a church I love and cherish. It is a church for which I hope and pray. But in the end it is a human institution. And as Mennonites, we know more than most that our allegiance is to Christ over and above any human institution, be it a government or a denomination. Jesus has built the true church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Not even if MC USA adopts the “Resolution on Membership Guidelines.”