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Lancaster Mennonite Conference leaders vote to leave MCUSA

11.19. 2015 Written By: The Mennonite, Inc. staff 7,364 Times read

With a vote of 82 percent, credentialed leaders in Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC) have voted to leave Mennonite Church USA. LMC credentialed leaders  have been participating in a process of discernment regarding LMC’s denominational affiliation with Mennonite Church USA. This process recently culminated in a resolution from the Board of Bishops that credentialed leaders were invited to affirm. The resolution needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

Early on Nov. 19, the results of the returned ballots from active credentialed leaders of Lancaster Mennonite Conference were counted regarding LMC’s denominational affiliation.  The results returned with 82.3 percent of participating leaders affirming the proposal and 17.7 percent not affirming. Approximately 80 percent of eligible credentialed leaders participated in the vote.

This vote means the ratification of the Bishop Board resolution to withdraw LMC’s affiliation with Mennonite Church USA. LMC will now enter a two-year implementation period of withdrawal.

In a Nov. 19 statement, LMC said, “[This] announcement will likely be received in very different ways by leaders and congregations of Lancaster Mennonite Conference and across the denomination. Leaders were encouraged to interact with others in loving and respectful ways and to pray for the Lord’s leading in the life of LMC in the days ahead.”

On July 23, Weaver sent a letter to leaders in LMC informing them of the a proposal suggesting withdrawal from Mennonite Church USA. Since then, more than 1,800 people attended LMC listening meetings to offer information and gather feedback about the proposal. Seven hundred and twenty-six attendees filled out response sheets afterward. An Affiliation Task Force helped collect responses, which the Bishop Board used to guide their work. On Oct. 23, the Bishop Board affirmed the proposal.

In an interview with Mennonite World Review, LMC Executive Conference Minister Keith Weaver noted there were a number of reasons for questioning affiliation with Mennonite Church USA, including greater acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer individuals in hiring policies and leadership roles.

Lancaster Mennonite Conference joined Mennonite Church USA in 2004. With 13,838 members in 163 congregations, LMC is Mennonite Church USA’s largest conference.

 

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23 Responses to “Lancaster Mennonite Conference leaders vote to leave MCUSA”

  1. June Landis says:

    Makes me very sad.

  2. Merv Horst says:

    “Could we with ink, the ocean fill,
    And we’re the sky of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade,
    To write the love, of God above,
    Would drain the ocean dry,
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.”

    Very clearly 82.3% of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference Credentialed leaders do not trust the words of this well beloved hymn.

    Written in the rain of God’s tears tonight on 125th Street Harlem USA.

    I remain thankful for the 17.7% who do believe. I was taught at Lancaster Mennonite High School as well as Goshen College that the faithful remnant will often be in the minority.

    Maranatha

    • M. South says:

      “I remain thankful for the 17.7% who do believe. I was taught at Lancaster Mennonite High School as well as Goshen College that the faithful remnant will often be in the minority.”

      Just what is it that you do believe? A beloved hymn that speaks only in generalities doesn’t support your agenda, which is mirrored from the larger secular world’s acceptance of the sexual revolution, and the hymn author neither believed in the LGBTQ cause nor wrote the hymn in advocacy for such, so long ago.

      Now we’re also sure that not all of what Goshen teaches these days is faithful; a short time ago its board was ready to start playing martial anthems to curry better favor with the world, whose purse they sought to share. Now the new pandering has come in the matter of conforming to the worldly ascendancy of sexual desire and practice of all sorts, which earns the world’s praise.

      Do not be so quick to deceive yourself that a minority within a church, who mirror most the predilections of the much larger fallen society outside that church, are some sort of faithful remnant if they aquiesce in the overthrow of the faith of our forefathers. In any case, that 17% does not represent an endorsement of apostasy, but more likely a patient attitude hoping to grant the grace and space for repentance.

      It is sad when a church is divided by growing faithlessness to a historical Christianity practiced by all the saints who went before. A church in which ethnic heritage and relation is as important as it has become in the Mennonite church, however, will encounter a conflict when membership becomes based more upon family ownership than on spiritual transformation, and find it difficult to hold family members accountable. The irony is that the temptation is to act in same way that Catholic and Protestant state churches did, defining membership from birth, with the resulting lack of faithfulness, which anabaptists rebelled against, and were persecuted for.

      Jesus, asked to give primacy of place to his own relatives, answered, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Those who hear the word of the Lord and obey it.”

  3. Ivan Zimmerman says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, as of today November 19, 2015 Lancaster Conference will no longer be sending money to the MCUSA. However they will still want to utilize MCUSA’s tax exempt status until they can get the proper paperwork so they can be tax exempt. Is that ethical?

    • M. South says:

      Be careful, Ivan. I take it you want to punish those who don’t want to cave to those who have overthrown the historical understanding of Christianity and replaced it with one based on recent worldly sexual fads. You would like to use the power of the state to discipline and punish us, while retaining the use of the secular power for your own benefit. It was the famous jurist John Marshall who concurred that “the power to tax, is the power to destroy,” agreeing with Daniel Webster about such unlimited state power. Certainly, it is a devilish proposal that ethics requires that either the Lancaster Conference or EVANA should thus be annihilated. I think that the Devil would forfeit this case against Daniel Webster too.

  4. Jean Martin says:

    Faithful minority? Paul says in the end times there will be an apostacy, a falling away from the truth, deceived people. When Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the world is reinterpreted and sin is lifted up rather than repented of, and 2000 years of Biblical understanding is denied; when to love someone means to let them believe a lie which will cause their eternal destruction, than there is lost any likeness to Christianity. Don’t claim to follow Christ while refusing His own Words-“I came as a ransom for sinners “. It was he who said it. He laid down His life. He took our transgressions, our iniquities. He was crushed for us. The punishment He took brought us peace. One must repent, be born again and become a new creation in Christ to be of the faith of Jesus. We don’t get to make our own rules. We must submit to God, His Word, and live a life worthy of the calling of Christ.

    • Lowell Delp says:

      Amen to all that Jean wrote!

    • Phil Good-Elliott says:

      Ms. Martin, why has there been no hue and cry about rate of divorce? Why focus on this minority group? Maybe it’s more convenient to focus on the minority instead of holding the majority accountable. Maybe it’s because we’d lose a huge number of members if we treated divorcees as we do LGBTQ.

  5. Chuck Neufeld says:

    Song lyric:

    I can’t see what you see from where I stand
    You can’t see what I see from where you stand
    Why not just stand together
    Maybe we could look a little better
    I can’t see what you see from where I stand

    Oh Lord, have mercy!

  6. Phil Martin says:

    I am saddened. It doesn’t matter whether I hold a traditional or progressive view on this issue of sexuality. When a relationship has been valued, a parting of the ways brings sadness. I trust that God is still at work among us.

    • M. South says:

      “It doesn’t matter whether I hold a traditional or progressive view on this issue of sexuality.”

      We ought to admit that tradition if it has lost its underlying basis of spirituality, without a close relation with the Holy Spirit, can lead to a faith that is dead, instead of affirming a living faith.

      I think we can all agree, though, on what the traditional view is – the one the church has universally believed and taught for two thousand years.

      It’s hard to argue against progress – it is defined as going forward, successfully accomplishing good things, growing in faith and understanding.

      Even the idea of liberalism, properly understood, is the generosity exampled by God, in the abundance of life giving generosity and wanting to share all good things, rather than being miserly.

      Yet there can be an Orwellian use of those words. Liberalism can be turned to be intentionally confused with libertinism, a form of slavery rather than liberty, to make it seem that abundance consists in anything goes, without limit and with profligacy in the slaking of appetites.

      Who can then be against progress? Progressivism was coined as a replacement term for a liberalism which had been sullied by its excesses and ill discipline, but it has been a change in name only.

      The latest thing, whatever fad it might be or of what merit, represents “progress” because there is an assumption that “every day, in every way, things are getting better” and the mere fact of the inevitability of time progressing means everything that arises subsequent to the last is an improvement.

      What a fallacy of semantic deception it is to pretend that any decline or disaster which occurs is actually progress. It ends up simply being an embrace, advocacy for anything, as long as it is novel. But in truth there’s nothing really new under the sun when it comes to human nature. Sometimes progressives tell us that if we fail to go along, “we are going backwards,” as if it were actually possible to time travel anyway but in one direction.

      As Christians, we are supposed to realize that there is a forward narrative, but events are prophesied that do not at all represent what is good, but evil. By our own choices, within a time where we enjoy freedom of action, we can determine in our own lives and influence whether or not moral progress is being made. But just because something occurs today, instead of yesterday, does not necessarily mean that the consequences leave us in the best of all possible worlds.

      And that is precisely the case for sexual immorality embraced by the world and subverted into the church – or any other unseemly appetite that deceives us it represents freedom, instead of our becoming prisoners of our own device.

  7. J. Harold Mohler MD says:

    It seems to me that if the culture at large accepts a certain behavior, then the church is also obligated to accept it too, regardless what the Bible teaches. The quote, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” seems to apply here.

    • Jean Martin says:

      It is hard to believe you are serious. The culture should set the standard? What about cultures that rape and kill women whenever a man wants? What about a culture that lets its babies be killed in the womb for convenience but prosecutes a mother who won’t pay someone else to kill her child and does it after birth? Who makes abortion a profiting business? God sets the standard in His word. Thank God that there is a standard and if one is not suppressing Truth it is plainly expressed in His Word, the Bible.

  8. Just click on my name for my response…

  9. Aaron Z says:

    Having read the comments here and the outcome of the decision by the Lancaster conference, I really am having a hard time understanding why any church or denomination would allow anyone who is living a lifestyle with the same sex, which is a sin, to serve in any capacity in the church. I am not saying to not love or minister to them but we need to be cautious of allowing people living in sin to preach or to teach others. We must love on the sinner and once reconciled before God and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, they we should welcome them into our churches as leaders with open arms. I am a born again Christian, raised in the Brethren In Christ church, and a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and know that loving the sinner not the sin is what Jesus taught all of us to do.

  10. Jean Martin says:

    To Phil– Jesus said that because of the hardness of hearts Moses allowed divorce. Matthew 19:8&9. But it was not that way from beginning. It is still adultery and needs to be repented of but not a perversion of Gods creation. No where in the Bible is homosexuality shown to be acceptable to God. He put man and woman together. It is a simple fact. One can feed sexual desire or God desire. Jesus died so we can live free from sin. But we can’t if we don’t have Gods opinion of sin. He made us. He knows what is good for us. The church should have remained firm in its stand for marrital faithfulness, but it is also not unforgivable. Neither is homosexual sex. But sin is sin and the consequence is punishment. Jesus took the punishment but we must turn from it and be born of His incorruptible seed. We get His righteousness. How awesome is that? So what if we can’t have sex. It will be gone in heaven. Greater things are coming. Live for the eternal things

    • Phil Good-Elliott says:

      Jean – using that same logic, I understand you to imply that anyone who is divorced and remarried should not have sex, either. Why aren’t you holding divorced couples to this double standard?

      • M. South says:

        There is no doubt that adultery is sin. If it isn’t stopped and repented of, so much the worse. Certainly the adulterous lifestyle is not something to be affirmed and celebrated.

        How this somehow supports acceptance and celebration in the church of any other sins, even if some have decided they like them, is not at all logical.

        No doubt none of is without sin. But it’s heresy to embrace it, thinking we shall continue in sin, that grace may abound.

  11. Merv Horst says:

    This morning another refrain kept going through my mind. Sarcasm intended.

    “And they’ll know we’re not Christians, by our hate, by our hate,
    And they’ll know we’re not Christians, by our hate.”

    God have mercy.

    • Debra Bender says:

      Merv, you’re much wiser than I . . . you made sure everyone knew you were being sarcastic – not much recognition of that type of attitude in these here parts! Other than that . . . sigh.

    • M. South says:

      So sadly typical that failure to celebrate and participate, in that which is not of God, causes the libel to be hurled that those who won’t bow before the “love” of sexual idolatry, are intolerant haters.

      Not exactly feeling the love, dude. (Speaking of agape, rather than Eros.)

  12. Jean Martin says:

    There is no sarcasm in truth. God doesn’t hide the fact that He hates sin-the proof is the flood when all but 8 people were destroyed. Or when Sodom was obliterated with fire. Now here is the sarcasm-oh yeah. That’s a story not an account.
    One believes the Bible or they don’t. One doesn’t get to pick and choose, and the Bible is the only book that sets out the story of life as we live and see it happening. It is reality-where evil exists and mercy saves. If a person decides which parts of the Bible are right and which wrong then they have set themselves above the revelation God has given us. Which is absurd since our existence covers a mere 70-80 years. If you don’t understand it get someone who can help. But don’t set it aside and decide you know better.

  13. M. South says:

    “If you don’t understand it get someone who can help. But don’t set it aside and decide you know better.”

    And the real shame is that those who have decided to set aside the practice and theology of two thousand years of the church, did not have the integrity to leave and found their new religion elsewhere, but mounted a coup to take over a faithful historical church and turn it into a betrayal of the faith of the very man whom after it is named.

    The peaceful are those who instead of fighting them, and rather than be overcome, are turning the other cheek, resisting not evil, letting them have what they coveted, but according to the spirit become the house of Ichabod.

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