Executive Board statement following spring consent agenda appointment

On June 19, 2017, the Executive Board (EB) of Mennonite Church USA met by video conference to review an appointment made by consent agenda in its March 30-April 1 board meeting. Board members acknowledged some missteps in the process that resulted in an uninformed decision to appoint Doug Basinger, an individual in a same-sex marriage, to the Leadership Discernment Committee (LDC). Most of the EB members learned of the nominee’s sexual orientation and marital status some days after the board meeting. Because of its care for the nominee as well as the whole church, the board carefully weighed the options for dealing with this controversial matter.

Board members determined that they need more time to discuss and clarify policies on appointments that the EB makes of LGBTQ persons to denominational boards and committees. Thus, the board decided to suspend their decision regarding this recent appointment until its meeting Sept. 28-30 in Kansas City. There it will engage in a policy discussion and seek to make a fully informed decision about the status of the current appointment. The action to suspend the appointment was affirmed by a vote of 8-6, with one abstention. One board member was absent and did not vote.

The EB is deeply sorry for the ways it has fallen short in caring adequately for the interests and felt needs of the whole church during this challenging time of controversy regarding same-sex relationships. Board members differ among themselves about whether the sexual orientation and relationship status of nominees are important factors for the EB’s appointments. Yet all of them grieve for the unwanted exposure and harm the EB’s process is causing Doug.

The EB is weighing this decision carefully because this is the board’s own appointment, rather than a Delegate Assembly appointment to the LDC. At the heart of the decision to suspend the current appointment was not the individual under consideration but a failure of the EB’s process. The board recognized that the appointment was made through the routine approval of a consent agenda, when the decision did not in fact reflect the informed consent of the board.

The EB understands that its role is to articulate broad vision, mission and policy for the denomination. It has done so by providing the church with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995), the Mennonite Church USA by-laws, A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership, the Membership Guidelines, board policies and the interpretation of the board’s role in light of recently adopted resolutions (Forbearance and the Status of the Membership Guidelines). In the new biennium, it will give particular attention to board processes that honor our church’s common commitments to be followers of Jesus Christ and enable all parts of the church to pursue their particular calling in diverse contexts.

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13 thoughts on “Executive Board statement following spring consent agenda appointment

  1. Sounds to me more like a staff problem than a Board problem. The Board is accepting responsibility, as it should, but to be effective, it needs a supportive staff.

  2. No matter what process the board feels they didn’t follow, it is disappointing to see the Mennonite Church discriminating against an individual due to their sexual orientation, and on top of that, they are now making it a public issue. If the Mennonite Church wants to continue to grow and attract young adults to the church, they need to move past this stance. Jesus was welcoming and accepting of all, and we should be following His example, and not spend our time judging our fellow Christians.

    1. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality” 1 Corinthians 6:9

      Scripture teaches us yes to love people, but hate their sins. And no one is born with a gender, we are born with a sex. Male or female. Homosexuality is a sin and the Bible refers to it as “having unnatural affections”. If a person lives in sin the church’s duty is to help guide them back to the church. They can attend, participate but membership should not be given. It is not a question of discrimination but of being obedient to God’s word. We cannot compromise scripture’s teaching without compromising ours and their salvation. As difficult as obedience is to hurt a person’s feelings now, eternal salvation or eternal hell is dependent on true obedience. We must stand unmoved on Biblical absolutes…and that includes not giving homosexuals membership. However, let us wrap our arms around them and love on them.

      1. Amen April. Keep speaking out as long as they allow you to.

        The god of this world has caused people to advocate for the sin of homosexuality. Those who have fallen under the spell whether they are participating or advocating do not like to hear scripture quoted. The Bible is no longer considered the standard to those who are in rebellion to God. Considering that we are living in end times, the obsession with this sin is reckless. Church leadership has a DUTY to teach truth, but instead they want to elevate those practicing sin to positions of leadership – leading the children and youth astray. Love is a verb??? Love without truth is also a verb.

        Love that enables and encourages sin is not love at all. In fact it is quite the opposite. God has given us instructions for our lives in His Word. None of us are able to honor His will completely, but when we go astray – we all know we are sinning and we have seen the consequences. Homosexuals who allow a ‘church’ to justify their sin – eventually find out that no man or church or government can sanctify what God calls unnatural and sin. Support for our loved ones in sin can be genuine and loving without agreeing with and supporting their sin.

        There are only two teams. We have to choose. The god of this world wants to deceive us into thinking that many roads lead to Heaven, but that is not true. We can choose his team or the team of the Creator, our Savior, the WORD, our Redeemer, our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. Choose this day whom you will serve.

      2. April, you are taking a letter from Paul to a specific group of people in a particular time and place and applying it incorrectly. The Bible is a guidebook, and not a rule book. Given what we know now about people being born with their sexual orientation and not choosing it, and the overarching guidance to love one another rather than taking advantage of one another, I think we not only can but must include people of all sexual orientations in our leadership.

  3. I am truly astonished at this decision and dismayed that another way was not found. If the executive board was not already aware that GLBTQ individuals, whether single or in committed partnerships, are making enormous and vital contributions to the work and mission of MC USA, this adds to my astonishment. I have many questions. Where does the scrutiny begin and end? How is the scrutiny applied in ways that are not blatantly hypocritical? What are gay people allowed to do and what are they not allowed to do in the church? How much loss of talent and participation is MC USA is willing to endure, particularly of young people who are watching very carefully? How does so much energy and debate get spent to hurt and exclude gifted and generous people in loving, committed relationships while the church either ignores or anemically responds to the devastation of sexual addiction, misconduct and abuse in the church?

  4. We all agree that this was a bungle, but need the Executive Committee keep having Uriah Heep pen the news releases?

  5. Doug Basinger may be a gifted person, but he is living in violation of the clear teachings of Scripture. That is enough to disqualify him from holding any leadership position in MC-USA.

  6. We are all living in violation of the clear teachings of Scripture, being human. Why should you consider a person’s sexuality more of a violation than your own sins, or other people’s on the committee? Keeping gifted homosexuals out of leadership roles is not loving, and it is not obedience to God’s word; it is against God’s guidance. I value and protect everyone’s right to say what they think, even if we disagree.

  7. I would like to ask the executive board of MC USA how they explain scriptures such as Lev. 18:22, Matthew 19:3-6, Romans 1:26,27 and I Cor. 6:9,10. I’d like to hear that. These scriptures speak directly to the issue of homosexuality, tho there are many more that allude a little more indirectly to sexual immorality. I don’t understand how we can try to justify what is directly forbidden in scripture. As Anabaptists we say the “authority of scripture” is one of our seven core values, yet we seem to try our best to rationalize or argue away what The Word says in very strong language. Yes, our God is love (and so should we be) but He is also holy (and so should we be). Unfortunately, I fear there is very little that we call sin anymore. And that’s disheartening. When we fail to lead people toward Christs transforming power, we fail to be the church at all. And I believe that God will hold the church accountable for that. I very much agree with Lynn that “love that enables and encourages sin is not love at all”.

  8. A person living in a same-sex relationship is living in sin. Only when we confess, repent and forsake our sin can we be forgiven. Anybody living with unconfessed sin, sexual or otherwise, is living outside of God’s will and should not be entrusted with a leadership role in the church. I don’t have a problem with homosexuals serving in leadership. I DO have a major problem with those who are living a non-celibate lifestyle.

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