Mennonites are wrestling with the questions faced by churches around the world. How should scripture deliberate the understanding of same-sex relationships? How are groups to balance tradition and modern life?
Hyattsville Mennonite Church had similar questions a decade prior, and had been disciplined for accepting gay and lesbian members. The judgement of a Mennonite church being disciplined comes from their peers. The options were to let Hyattsville enter the conference as a full member again, remove them from the conference, or, if no agreement could be reached, dissolve the conference.
“Hyattsville had an active ministry to homosexuals, which I was for, I didn’t have a problem with it, but when the church started putting active, practicing homosexuals in positions of leadership, as delegates in voting bodies here at conference—that became more difficult for me to take,” said Pennsylvania pastor Jeff Jones who issued a formal complaint against Hyattsville.
For the last decade, Hyattsvile members have not been able to vote at conference meetings. They are not able to serve in leadership, and their pastor Cindy Lapp is under review.
In a gathering, Myron Weaver, a Mennonite pastor from Ohio, spoke openly about his experiences with homosexuality in the community. He said, “When people are vulnerable, regardless of what the situation may be, we as humans must often offer love and grace, even if in fact we may not understand. Safe places, safe churches, allow people to be vulnerable. The problem I’m finding, though, is that there appears to be fewer and fewer safe churches.”
Weaver mentioned a similar theological disagreement that led to a split in 1954. There was a disagreement about the appropriate kind of buttons for women’s dresses. He stated “It seems pretty ridiculous today, but splits like this happen because for generations, families have been modeling that when you disagree, you simply walk away.”
We may see further division in the Mennonite community as this issue progresses further. Some churches and groups will be welcoming of modern relations, and others will not.