Mennonites voting, discerning

At the end of this month delegates from around Mennonite Church USA will be meeting for the Special Session of the Delegate Assembly in Kansas City.  Delegates typically meet during church wide biennial conventions on the odd years, but last year…Covid.  So we’re meeting in person over four days on Memorial Day Weekend this year.  CMC gets two delegates plus a youth delegate, so Katie Graber and I, plus Eve Miller will be representing the congregation.

There are four resolutions on the table. 

For Justice in the Criminal Legal System names our system in the US as “promoting violence and punishment, not reconciliation and peace.”  It lays out ten commitments for all levels of church life to make that involve education, relationship building, divestment, and advocacy. 

The Accessibility Resolution  affirms the vital gifts of people with disabilities and invites the church to “remove the barriers to belonging in architecture, communications and attitudes that prevent individuals with disabilities from participating in church life.”

Clarification on Mennonite Church USA Polity and the Role of the Membership Guidelines of Mennonite Church USA has a long title.  This Executive Board initiated resolution proposes to retire the portion of our Membership Guidelines which forbid pastors from officiating at weddings of same-sex couples, leaving discernment on these matters to congregations and regional conferences.  It makes official what has already become the practice.

A Resolution for Repentance and Transformation was proposed by the loosely organized Inclusive Mennonite Pastors  group, of which Mark and I are a part, and calls on the denomination to name harms committed against LGBTQ folks and take steps to mend this harm. 

These are very short summaries of fairly substantive documents.  The delegate sessions will happen in round tables that give opportunity for dialogue.  And as these kinds of denomination wide resolutions go, passing a resolution (or not) is just the beginning.  Resolutions at their best give us a common place to focus our attention and prayerful energies in our calling to be the body of Christ together.

For the next two Sundays, May 15th and 22nd, we’ll be discussing these resolutions during the Christian Education hour – in the sanctuary and through the Zoom feed.  This will serve several purposes.  It will help the congregation be more informed of these resolutions and the church wide conversation.  It will better enable Katie and Eve and I to represent the voices of the congregation at the meetings.  And it will help us start to do the work these resolutions call for.