College Mennonite Church is engaged in a lively discerning process that will shape the way it behaves toward LGBTQA persons. The discernment process grew out of a series of congregational strategic planning sessions that focused on the congregation’s perceived reason for being. Clearly, the church wishes to be a growing, inviting and serving congregation.
The congregation divided itself into groups that looked 1) at the exterior and 2) interior of its buildings, and at 3) what is happening within and outside its buildings. The intent is to make everything about our church inviting.
The most vocal concern, though, was referred to the church board which is the governing body within the church’s organizational structure. There was a strong desire for CMC to publicly acknowledge itself to be a church that welcomes LGBTQA persons into full membership.
On successive Wednesday evenings 1) those present were reminded of stresses encountered in the past, 2) the parents of lesbian daughters who were shunned by the church told their stories, 3) a Goshen College professor explained the biology of sexuality and 4) Pastor Phil spoke on marriage as a changing social construct . On three successive Sunday mornings, Loren Johns, a professor of the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, taught from a biblical and personal perspective.
These matters are the focus of many other congregations, conferences and the denomination as a whole. Few congregations can call on such resources as available to CMC. Most of these events are available to everyone through you tube by clicking here. You can view the first lecture by Johns by clicking here, the second lecture by clicking here and the third lecture by clicking here. The lectures are rich with information and counsel for churches from a faithful scholarly perspective.
Stanley Green preached at CMC this past Sunday from the book of Lamentations. He read a poem that was written after the massacre of nine persons in a black congregation engaged in Bible study in Charleston, S.C. In the poem the single word “how” was repeatedly interspersed between stanzas. As I listened, my brain added the letter “l” to the word how to change the word to “howl”, a word that fits the mood of Lamentations.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I lament when a church excludes LGBTQA persons and I lament when the church suffers a division that limits its witness to the world. I will howl till the church unites and welcomes all as we have declared for decades without meaning it. It isn’t a matter of simple semantics but of love, integrity and loyalty to the One whom we follow.