Seeds of Divisions



I’ve spent hours reading posts in The Mennonite.  This was a refreshing and hope-filled experience.  Older people are speaking of their dreams, younger people are sharing their visions, and middle-aged people in power are listening. Such sharing promotes understanding and unity.  The Mennonite board and staff should be complimented for allowing their medium to be the open conversation that it is. Yet I recall that some fear to speak because they do not feel it is safe.

refugee's boat

Refugees Fleeing for a Safe Place

Everyone wants a safe place.  A refugee flees from a place of danger or hardship in hopes of finding a safe place.  On National Public Radio, I heard of a thirteen-year-old boy who was rescued from the sea. he was fleeing from his home in Africa to a refuge in Italy.  His parents consented that he leave them because they wanted a better life for him. The NPR said that Italians have the reputation of knowing how to receive refugees and to set them on the way to a new future.

Rhoda watering containers on our back porch in Sarasota - Martin Lehman

Rhoda watering containers on our back porch in Sarasota – Martin Lehman

Persons with a same-sex orientation need places where they can let others know their identities without causing a crisis. More safe places are opening in society. Discrimination by businesses is frowned upon. Courts in a majority of the states have determined that marriage by same-sex couples is legal within their jurisdictions. Citizens across the country are preparing themselves for the possibility that a  Supreme Court decision will favor marriage of same-sex couples in all states.

For many years, same-sex couples who believe themselves to be Christians have longed for a safe place within a church community. The Executive Board of the Mennonite Church USA recently restated its commitments to the 1965 Mennonite Confession of Faith and to agreements made by church delegates in 2001. It also recognized that the church is divided on understandings of human sexuality and same-sex marriage.and therefore supported a resolution calling for the exercise of “grace, love and forbearance in the midst of our differences.”

If my memory is correct, Amos Weaver, president of LMS, wrote that every church division carries with it the seeds of the next division. Is it not true that grace, love and forbearance inhibit the germination of the seeds of division? Should we not expect that strictly required beliefs and behaviors tend to counter grace, love and forbearance, and provide an environment for the next division.



About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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3 Responses to Seeds of Divisions

  1. Donald Blosser says:

    If my memory serves me right—what the Executive Board is doing is to stop the process of even talking about this issue. They are doing what I fear many older people in power do—attempt to revert to the past and resurrect it as the standard for the future.
    Isn’t this a case similar to Jesus riding into Jerusalem —can we not hear the stones crying out? I can accept allowing a congregation to live out their own convictions on this subject, but when one congregation (A), or one conference feels they have the right or the power to dictate what another congregation (B) must believe in order for congregation A to even associate with congregation B, and they then attempt to remove congregation B from the denomination….that just doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. Lancaster conference just produced a statement that sounds ever so much better to me—we have our values, but we want to retain a “radical center” and allow others the freedom to define their own edges in the circle. Made sense to me

    • This morning I enjoyed the blog by Glen and Jep who write as scientists. I wished there could be a third voice, that of a theologian, and I thought of you, Don. You have so much of worth to say to today’s church from theological and church history perspectives.

  2. Sam Troyer says:

    Very well said Don and Martin, we do need to find a place for all. I found the Lancaster statement of radical discipleship refreshing and hope we can exercise the forbearance we need to exercise so that all will be able to sing their song.

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