On Friday afternoon a lady member of our game group wore a dress which displayed large interlocking circles in one continuous chain. They reminded me of my questions about the Anabaptist Renewal Circles. Could the renewal circles be interlocked?
During Friday night I thought of Ezekiel’s vision of God in Chapter one of his book. There were wheels, or circles, involved in the vision. Click on the link to hear the chapter read and to see one person’s imagined vision.
On Saturday morning I listened to Harry Belefonte’s rendition of the vision. He sang of a big wheel that ran by faith and a little wheel that ran by the grace of God, a wheel within a wheel. These whirling wheels in heaven reminded me of earthly circles. Here is a rendition of Belefonte’s song .
When I googled for “Anabaptist Renewal Circles” I stumbled on the March, 2014 Report of the Lancaster Conference of Mennonites. You may find it by clicking on the previous link and are patient. It is sixty four pages long and brought back many good memories of familiar congregations and bishop districts. Only one person was familiar to me among the conference staff members. Others were too young or I was too old. . The conference’s use of electronic media reveals a new openness, and I am glad.
The conference moderator acknowledged the many conversations that are taking place among leaders and in congregations about two recent announcements from the broader church. The first was that Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is reevaluating its policy on hiring of non-celibate gays. The second was an announcement that the Mountain States Mennonite Conference board approved the recommendation of their ministerial leadership committee to grant ministerial credentials to a lesbian in a committed same-sex relationship.
The bishops agreed to reassure leaders and constituents by sending a letter to credentialed leaders to be distributed through each bishop and to find an extended time for discernment and sharing on how to guide the conference at this time. It was noted that representatives of the Anabaptist Renewal Circles (ARC) met with the bishops to disclose that they are planning an event to be held in Lancaster, July 10-12.
I don’t know how the heavenly wheels are gyrating, but circles on earth are wobbling nervously and spinning erratically. Everyone is nervous. Phil Waite, CMC pastor, wrote the following in this week’s newsletter:
“Mennonite Church USA, our national church body, is on the verge of a fragmentation or a split. The symptomatic issue is homosexuality. Naturally, in this context, when we turn our attention to a six-week worship series on human sexuality, the pending schism in the church is never far from our thoughts. Church conflict is nothing new. And church conflicts are rarely about the symptomatic issue, which is almost always a stand-in for something else. This is true with us, and it was true of the nascent church in Corinth in the 50s, when Paul began this ministry and later wrote at least two letters (the two we know about and have in the New Testament). This week in worship we turn our attention to Corinth as we look for Jesus to make us one body in our own time.”