Breaking News from MCUSA

rainbow doveA recent statement approved by the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA affirms, among other things, “an expectation that all EB members and national staff will adhere to the ‘standards, values and beliefs’ articulated in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective,Mennonite Church USA’s Membership Guidelines and the two resolutions [‘Forbearance in the Midst of Differences’ and ‘Status of the Membership Guidelines’].”

In the wake of this statement becoming public, whistle-blowers flooded the Executive Director’s office with photos of EB members and national staff in a variety of compromising situations:

  • Pledging allegiance to the flag (Articles 5 and 23)
  • Attending infant baptisms (Article 11)
  • Sharing communion with unbaptized people (Article 12)
  • Walking around with dirty feet (Article 13)
  • Dancing at same-sex weddings (Article 19 and the unwritten “no dancing” clause)
  • Driving SUVs and eating at McDonalds (Article 21)

Leaked emails and secretly taped phone conversations have revealed a lack of “grace, love, and forbearance” on the part of some board members and staff (Forbearance Resolution).

In addition, some people in denominational leadership were revealed to have connections with congregations that refused to consider women for pastoral positions in their church (Article 15), and/ or congregations that do not send adequate delegates to national assemblies (Membership Guidelines).

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday evening, there were two people left on the Executive Board and only four remaining national staff. (You are not reading this story on The Mennonite web page because none of the magazine, social media, or technology staff were fully adhering to the expected standards. You know how those creative types are.)confession

We are pretty sure that the few remaining board members and staff have, at some point, disobeyed their parents, in clear violation of Article 19. We are awaiting reports from disgruntled siblings.

The recent Executive Board statement also includes “a commitment not to take punitive action against congregations or area conferences who are at variance.” In response to this commitment, those who have been waiting to see if MCUSA will discipline LGBTQ-inclusive conferences and congregations are now planning to leave the denomination.

So it is actually advantageous that MCUSA has significantly reduced its staff, considering the dismal budget predictions.

Reports of the recent meetings note that denominational leadership (what is left of it) is working on “church revitalization efforts” which include promoting a book, talking about revitalization, and learning from vibrant churches—like the ones whose pastors are not qualified to serve on the Executive Board.

Also, there will be a “large scale re-write of The Purposeful Plan.” Because, if we can just get that right . . . Well, something to look forward to in Orlando next year.

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14 thoughts on “Breaking News from MCUSA

  1. Walking with dirty feet? Damn, I was at variance with my church well before age 5, going barefoot down on the farm was the best part of summer.

    This post, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I feel like I have gotten the very best parts of my personality and philosophy from my Mennonite upbringing but I just don’t remember things seeming so judgy and rules focused. I guess what I didn’t know was for the best, those things just distract from my nice non violent simplicity do what Jesus did childhood.

  2. As an all too frequent user of sarcasm, I’d like to mention that the root word for sarcasm has to do with cutting. Here’s a sampling:
    Word History Anyone who has suffered from the sarcastic remarks of others will not be too surprised to learn that sarcasm, “a cutting remark,” comes from a Greek verb, sarkazein, that literally means “to tear flesh like a dog.” Very early, though, this Greek verb came to mean “to bite one’s lip in rage,” and “to gnash one’s teeth,” and finally “to sneer.” (WordCentral)

    The Simple Definition of sarcasm (Merriam Webster Online)
    : the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny

    Full Definition of sarcasm

    1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain

    2 : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individualb : the use or language of sarcasm

    So, where does this screed fit in relation to these definitions? Wouldn’t it be best to just speak plainly what one means to say?

    • I consider this piece satire, not sarcasm. Satire is a legitimate and often effective rhetorical strategy for bringing to light injustice. And laughter is good for releasing pent up anger. So in this case, no, I do not think it would have been best to speak “plainly.” But if you have questions about what I think regarding the Executive Board statement, I would be happy to give a direct answer to those questions.

      • Yup, my mistake; sort of. I’ve tried to define away my hostility sometimes too. There isn’t much difference between satire and sarcasm, though, probably mostly just length. Satire has synonyms: mockery, ridicule, derision, scorn, caricature. I probably just didn’t find it funny or helpful.

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