What might be the ongoing relationship between two groups which have officially parted ways?
That was the question which representatives of Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC) and Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) discussed in a meeting on January 15, 2018. LMC officially left MC USA on January 1, 2018, and is seeking membership as a country body in Mennonite World Conference (MWC). Thus, César Garcia, general secretary of MWC, and Lynn Roth, North American representative, met with the group by our invitation.
In the course of the meeting, we:
- reflected on some of the benefits of the relationship between Lancaster Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Church USA over the years
- reviewed the shortcomings that resulted in the end of our official relationship, and offered our confessions and laments that we were not able to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace”
- considered what we have learned about ourselves and each other along the way
- received the counsel of Mennonite World Conference leaders
- clarified the basis of MC USA’s endorsement of Lancaster Mennonite Conference as a prospective member of Mennonite World Conference
César García reminded us that there are different levels of unity and separation. We agreed together that while LMC and MC USA are separating on one level, we aspire to continue in fellowship on another level—as fellow communicants in the larger Anabaptist body of MWC. We want to pray for each other, and hope to share with each other what the Spirit of God is doing among us in the years ahead.
The Executive Board of MC USA will write an official letter to LMC and MWC to signal their intent to stay in relationship. LMC intends to write a letter to MC USA in return. These letters will be made available to the public.
Ervin R. Stutzman for MC USA Executive Committee of Executive Board
L. Keith Weaver for Lancaster Mennonite Conference officers