From Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, moderator
Feb. 17, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you with love in a time that is of profound crisis for some and that others see as an opportunity for change. I address you as a moderator, a humble servant of the Lord, and the first Latina woman that you called forth to help serve and lead this beautiful Mennonite Church which I love.
I urge each of you, in the midst of the profound differences that threaten to divide us, to be able to love each other. Let us embrace and live up to the call that Jesus gives to his followers in John 15. As Anabaptists, we are Christ-centered people, and we should focus on these words of Jesus. Jesus motivates his followers to love one another, to remain connected, to abide in love, just as the Father and the Son abide in love. May we be able to be communities of grace, hope and love to one another, as our Mennonite Church USA vision statement so emphatically underlines.
I am reminded that Mennonite Church USA exists because there are many things we can do together that we cannot do without staying connected. This is the time to raise our eyes beyond this specific disagreement and remember the things we are doing together as part of our missional calling: the church planting; the renewed focus on Christian formation in the Year of the Bible; the anticipation of the new Shine Sunday school curriculum from MennoMedia; and the revised immigration statement affirmed by the Executive Board.
The Purposeful Plan has given us many important tasks for the church to engage. Why should we allow one issue to overtake the important work of the church? We have much work to do in order to advance the Kingdom of God so that God’s work may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us look to the eastern star, just as the three kings did. They were directed by this star to Jesus, a little baby in the manger.
During my three-week journey last July, visiting many Mennonite congregations, I saw signs of life. I saw churches being faithful servants, and I heard of many testimonies of how God is at work in their lives. I saw faces for whom the gospel is an urgent need, and I met leaders committed to work hard for Christ. My own home congregation, Laurel Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa., a small multicultural congregation, is not engaged in the question of same-sex relationships, like many other Mennonite congregations. We are preoccupied with keeping our ministries going and on growing as a church community. That is the church living out God’s purposeful plan.
Let me conclude with the realization that God has placed in my heart that God loves this church more than any of us can love it. Mennonite Church USA belongs to God, and God is taking care of us. Let us be the peace church we are called to be.
I believe that God’s revelation has not stopped yet, and that God is yet to write many good chapters in our beautiful, yet young, Mennonite Church USA. Upon the birth of Mennonite Church USA, we all committed to stay connected to one another. I pray that we can live up to this covenant relationship. This relationship first belongs to God, and secondly to each other as brothers and sisters.
Let us commit ourselves to diligently pray for direction and to seek the voice of God so that we might discern together “for such a time as this.” Meanwhile, we have a purposeful plan to accomplish here on earth.
With a loving heart, your humble servant,
Elizabeth Soto Albrecht
Moderator of Mennonite Church USA
Note: A listening task force has been named by the Executive Board that will review the process by which Mountain States Mennonite Conference decided to license Theda Good, and to examine the ways these actions interface with the existing membership guidelines and polity documents of Mennonite Church USA. Communication regarding this topic may be addressed to ShelleyB@MennoniteUSA.org.
- Executive Board releases statement on Mountain States decision, approves resolution on immigration
- Executive Board statement: Moving Forward
- Executive Board appoints task force to frame questions for CLC meeting
- Constituency Leaders Council prepares to meet
- Constituency Leaders Council meets, offers direction to the Executive Board