I am writing to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one whose birth we celebrate at this time of the year. Through his life, death, and resurrection, we have come to know God’s love for the whole world (John 3:16). My reason for writing is to call you to prayer regarding two recent news announcements which have stirred up tension across our church.
The first was an announcement that Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) was reevaluating its policy on hiring of non-celibate gays. The second was an announcement that Mountain States Mennonite Conference board had approved the recommendation of their ministerial leadership committee to grant ministerial credentials to a lesbian in a committed same-sex relationship.
EMU and Mountain States Mennonite Conference have different relationships of accountability within Mennonite Church USA. EMU relates to the broader church through the Mennonite Education Agency, and Mountain States conference relates to the broader church through the Constituency Leaders Council and the delegate body at the biennial meeting. Representatives of both EMU and the Mountain States conference have agreed to have a conversation with representatives of our Executive Board within the next few weeks about the process by which they are making their decisions, and the implications for the broader church. The Executive Committee of the Executive Board plans to meet at the end of January to discern how to best respond to these situations, in preparation for the Executive Board meeting in mid-February.
I earnestly desire that our church be faithful to scripture and God’s call. The issues that we face cannot be solved by human effort alone. We need the enablement of God’s Spirit, and the strength of God’s Word. So as you pray, I invite you to let me know if any particular scriptures or devotional insights come to mind.
Ervin R. Stutzman