Homosexuality and bisexuality in the Mennonite churches
Statements on the lesbian & gay
issue: 1999 to now.
A number of statements and
resolutions have been made by the various main Mennonite churches in North America:
||Mennonite Church (MC),
||General Conference Mennonite Church (GC), and
||Mennonite Church Canada, (a.k.a MC Canada) formed in
the year 2000; formerly the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.
The MC and GC merged to become the Mennonite Church USA (a.k.a.
MC USA) in the year 2000.
1999: The Mennonite General Assembly met in St. Louis.
They did not "reaffirm the faith statement that sexual relations
are reserved for a man and a woman in marriage."
2000-JAN-21: Lancaster Conference's Bishops issued a
"Statement of Faith and Call to Prayer." It said, in part:
"We believe with the Purdue statement 2 that homosexual,
extramarital and premarital sexual activity are all sin is based on the
scripture and should be the teaching position of the church...We do not believe
that all persons with homosexual desire will experience a miraculous change of
orientation if they come to Christ."
However, they do believe that Christ will give persons
the support needed to remain celibate outside of opposite-sex marriage. They asked the
church's leaders to bring a resolution before the next Delegate Assembly
to affirm these same principles.
The confirmed their belief that all forms of:
"... homosexual behavior is sinful and that God does not
condone sin. ... We believe that the new united denomination will need to make
its teaching position clear on these issues. We believe that we cannot be
faithful to our understanding of Scripture that homosexual behavior is sin and
join with a church body which does not support these commitments.
2001: The "Membership
Guidelines for the Formation of Mennonite Church USA" was written. Its
Section III deals with a "Clarification of some issues related to
homosexuality and membership." It mentions that
same-sex orientation and "lifestyle" 4 have been a focus of controversy. Several
congregations who had belonged to two conferences were expelled by one
conference because they accepted as members some individuals in loving committed
same-sex relationships. The united Mennonite Church USA will follow:
||The 1995 document: "Confession of Faith in
a Mennonite Perspective" which states that: "God intends marriage
to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.
(1986) and Purdue (1987) statements that describe all same-sex sexual activity
a sin, even as the church remains in dialogue with those who hold differing views.
||Their pastors will not be allowed to perform a same-sex covenant
ceremony. Presumably this ban extends also to same-sex marriages.
||Congregations that had been expelled by one conference and retained by
another are to work together with the two conferences to determine the
congregation's future status in the new Mennonite Church USA.
2003-SEP: At this time, Canada was going through
a period of rapid change concerning same-sex marriage (SSM). Almost 45% of
Canadian adults favored SSM. SSMs became available in Ontario and British
Columbia. The United Church of Canada endorsed SSM at their general
council meeting. A bill in Parliament to define marriage as a union of one man
and one woman failed. Bill C-250 was passed; it added sexual orientation to the
existing list of four protected classes in Canada's hate propaganda legislation.
Henry Krause, moderator of the Mennonite Church Canada (MCC or MC Candada), and
Dan Nighswander, its general secretary wrote a statement "Where does MC
Canada stand?" on 2003-SEP-25. They
acknowledged that "there is diversity in our churches on a wide variety of
theological and ethical issues including matters of sexual ethics." However,
they stated that the consensus of the majority is clear, as defined in a number
of statements such as:
"These statements name same-sex relationships and other sexual
activity outside of consensual relations in a heterosexual monogamous marriage
as outside of God‚s plan and will. They also declare a covenant 'to mutually
bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other,' 'to take part
in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other,' and a
commitment 'that we call for and acknowledge the integrity of the same
commitment [of faithfulness to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, according to
the light that God has given us in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit] on the
part of those who disagree with us'."
Still, it is difficult to search for discernment and remain open to each
other if one set of believers have just expelled the other set from church
membership because they are in a loving, committed same-sex relationship, civil
union or marriage.
2008-NOV: A group of Mennonites called the Welcome Committee prepared an open letter
calling on the church to revisit their official stance on homosexuality. By the
time of the MC USA convention in 2009-JUL, about 1,400 Mennonites had signed the
letter. It asked that area conferences not suspend or expel churches that
accept as members GLBT persons who are in loving, committed same-sex
relationships. Supporters of the Open Letter Campaign sponsored a
resolution to a church committee on JUL-02. It was not voted upon. The executive
board of the Mennonite Church USA released a statement on the same day saying
that "God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for
life." The statement also said the church should "... be firm in our commitment
to seek a mutual solution." 6
Texts of Mennonite Church
Conferences, Boards and Committees on Homosexuality at: http://www.ambs.edu/
Text of the MC's Purdue
statement on sexuality "A Call to Affirmation, Confession and Covenant Regarding
"A statement of faith and call to prayer," Lancaster Conference, 2000-JAN-21,
- The term "lifestyle" normally implies an individual's choice, as in whether
to live in the city, suburbs or country, or in whether to work for a large
company, small company or be self-employed. It is a preferred term for many
religious conservatives because the generally used term -- sexual orientation --
implies lack of choice.
Jill Laster, "Mennonite group pushes for accepting gays," the Columbus
Dispatch, 2009-JUL-02, at:
The text of the Welcome Committee's "Open Letter" is at: http://www.welcome-committee.info
Copyright © 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2010-JAN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson