I’ve just read the reaction of leaders (actually non-leaders) of several Mennonite conferences to the ordination of a lesbian by another conference. I understand such non-leaders for I was once one of them. We non-leaders tend to be followers, like the leader who said, “there go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”
I like the pastor of College Mennonite Church. He is not an executive of a conference or denomination, and he doesn’t sign letters to executives. Instead, he is a pastor who is helping a congregation to be like a big tent that safely shelters all sorts of people.
(While writing this my attention was taken to the report of an event at the School for Leadership at the Eastern Mennonite Seminary. They laid the elephant in the room at the foot of the cross. Read this if you read nothing else in this blog.)
I encourage readers to listen to the sermon preached on February 26, 2014 by the lead pastor of the College Mennonite Church. The service and the sermon can by viewed here. (The pastor is introduced 38 minutes into the service.) He read Leviticus 19:17-18 and 19:33-34. Though speaking bluntly on sexuality, he rightly ignored the hundreds of rules and regulations in Leviticus of the Old Testament and selected a few verses from that book that have a New Testament generosity and Jesus ring to them.
The pastor did not dwell on the major sorting that threatens the unity of MCUSA. Instead he noted the sorting that goes on inside the big tent. We tend to sort ourselves according to common interests, same age, etc. He said it was a shame for us to talk only about who should have sex with whom. That, he said was a sorded affair. He urged us to talk instead about God. Young men and women have visionary messages for the church. They should respect their elders, and the elders should listen respectfully to them.
I was told that years ago when a Mennonite congregation made a decision, one of the brothers demonstrated his disagreement with the decision by walking without a word to the side of the church, taking his black hat off the hook, and going out of the door never to return. That, I was told, was the Mennonite way. We must do better than that. We must talk to each other and stay together, even though we don’t always agree.