Update, July 18: Goshen College, prior to this article, issued an official response to Anneliese Baer and Rachel Stoltzfus through the board of directors. The […]
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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