Response from Ervin Stutzman

Ervin's Equipping Column

Published: February 4th, 2014, Posted by: Joanna Shenk
Ervin Stutzman is executive director for Mennonite Church USA

Ervin Stutzman is executive director for Mennonite Church USA

By Ervin Stutzman

Over a week ago I received a copy of a letter signed by 150 people serving as pastors or with credentials in Mennonite Church USA. The letter was also published by The Mennonite via TMail on January 27. Since the letter addresses issues of national scope, it seems appropriate for me to acknowledge receipt of the letter on behalf of the Executive Board, and to make an initial response to the hopes voiced there.

First of all, I receive the letter as a voice of compassion and lament for the pain which people on the LGBTQ spectrum face in our church and society. The letter makes reference to a quotation by Pastor Ron Adams [p. 8, The Mennonite, November 2013], whose brother Jim took his own life because of depression after years of internalizing the theology of a church which condemned him for being born as gay.

Partly as a result of this tragedy, Adams believes our denomination’s guidelines on same-sex marriage dehumanize our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Adams declares that “If I am being asked to choose between adhering to those [guidelines] and welcoming and blessing someone, anyone, seeking to follow Jesus, I will welcome and bless.” The signers of the letter empathize with Adams’ pain, as well as that of many who feel marginalized by our church.

Secondly, I received the letter as a plea to the church to find a better way of addressing our differences. Adams longs for a “rule of love” to take precedence over the rule of law in the church. I lament that our church reflects the polarities of our society, and too often mirrors its unhealthy ways of dealing with differences.

I know many of the signers of the letter; all are committed disciples of Jesus Christ with a call to compassionate pastoral ministry. In that vein, I receive the letter as a form of counsel to the Executive Board, asking for a change of guidelines at the national level. Although no specific guidelines are named, the following statements from denominational documents come to mind:

“We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.” P. 72, Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective

“Pastors holding credentials in a conference of Mennonite Church USA may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony.” p. 4, Membership Guidelines

Thirdly, I receive the letter as growing evidence that the consensus forged on the Membership Guidelines in 2001 during the church merger processes is fraying. I lament that the individuals and groups at opposite ends of the spectrum of concerns related to sexual identity and orientation are no longer willing to be in patient forbearance with each other. Those who most want change are disregarding the church’s written guidelines, believing that conscience calls them to pursue a higher law of love for socially-marginalized LGBTQ individuals made in God’s image.

In contrast, those who are most strongly opposed to same-sex relationships have left or are threatening to leave our denomination, believing that conscience forbids them to be in the same denomination with congregations who bless same-sex unions.

I pray that God will help us find a third way that demonstrates our unity under the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the scriptures, and the written covenants that we have made with each other.

As Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA, I am committed to the Confession of Faith and the Membership Guidelines adopted by the delegates at the Nashville convention in 2001, as part of the agreement for forming our new denomination. Although we have considerable diversity of views on the Executive Board, we recently wrote an administrative update to the document. We’ve also explored the development of a new covenant arrangement which might better capture the commitments than the Membership Guidelines presently do.

For the sake of right relationships in the church and our witness to the world, we must find a way to have respectful conversation  with those who differ with our convictions, particularly ardent followers of Jesus who feel marginalized by the church.

In this vein, I have sat at the table and listened to disciples of Jesus who identify themselves on the LGBTQ spectrum—some celibate, some who have left non-heterosexual relationships to become celibate, some in committed heterosexual relationships, some in committed same-sex relationships, some in the stages of exploration of what their sexual orientation means. I have found that even among the closest family members of individuals with LGBTQ identity, there is no consensus on the moral and theological implications. Our differences of conviction run right through families, congregations, conferences and denominations.

In the midst of these differences, I call the church to a renewed commitment to Jesus Christ, to ongoing study of the scriptures, to a thoughtful acknowledgement of our Confession of Faith, to a love that is filled with knowledge and insight, to deep listening to fellow Christians on the LGBTQ spectrum, to compassionate welcoming and discipling for all who are marginalized, to respectful conversation with those who differ with our own stance, and to prayerful, Spirit-led discernment in communities of faith committed to God’s mission in the world.

As part of their regular meeting in mid-February, the Executive Board will consider the letter from the 150 pastors along with two other recent actions—the announcement at Eastern Mennonite University launching a listening process regarding a hiring policy change for folks in same-sex covenants, and the ministerial licensing of Theda Good, a woman in a same-sex covenant, by Mountain States Mennonite Conference. Pray that God may grant us wisdom beyond our human limitations. The board intends to issue a statement shortly after the meeting.

36 Responses

  1. tylertully says:

    Thank you for honestly reflecting the challenges, convictions, and consciences of all of those involved. I also pray for a Third Way. I pray for understanding and mutual patience, mutual humility, and mutual honesty moving forward.

  2. Monica J Kaufman says:

    I hope that you will also consider those of us who have left MCUSA because of hurtful experiences within Mennonite churches and schools due to the exclusion of LGBT members. You write about those who are leaving or have left because they strongly oppose same sex relationships. Please don’t forget that there are many of us who left long ago, who have felt unwelcome for many many years and have long since said good bye to the communities we grew up in and once called home because of MCUSA’s lack of acceptance and inclusion of its LGBT members.

  3. I’m curious about the introduction of a new (to me, at least) term; “the LGBTQ spectrum.” That Ervin is well schooled in rhetoric heightens my curiosity.

  4. Allen Lehman says:

    Ervin, you do get it down to the right question in your blog–the question of marriage–is it between one man and one woman per our confession of faith and Gen. 2:24;Matt. 19:5. It’s clear to me that the redefinition of marriage is not within the purview of the Church’s “binding and loosing” nor discernment. There is so much emotion packed into the debate on homosexuality. Keeping the question clearly focused is helpful to me.

    • mddanner says:

      Allen, on what basis do you make the claim that the redefinition of marriage is not within the purview of the Church’s “binding and loosing” authority nor discernment?

  5. Moises Angustia says:

    Thank you for your response, as an ordain minister I pray we can resolve this and uphold our confession of faith. Thanks again very thoughtful response

  6. Jayne Byler says:

    Thank you, Ervin, for your thoughtful leadership in a time of discernment. My prayers is that God’s Spirit will surround you and the Executive Board as you meet.

  7. Just remember that compassion is mentioned in the Bible more than homosexuality. There is a much difference in number.

  8. Stephen Weber says:

    Ervin,
    I see you quote from the page 4, of the Membership Guidelines . That page also has this statement: “We hold the Saskatoon (1986) and Purdue (1987) statements describing homosexual, extramarital and premarital sexual activity as sin to be the teaching position of Mennonite Church USA.” Is this still the position of the Mennonite Church USA. If not what has changed? Certainly not the teaching of Holy Scripture!

  9. Todd Steele says:

    The response states a desire to “find a third way that demonstrates our unity…” Please know that to many of us this unity is a false idol, an alter upon which we are sacrificing our own sisters, brothers and children. It is a painful statement that implies Mennonite leadership values the the sanctity of its institutional church at the expense of its most vulnerable would-be supporters.

    I would suggest that God has already offered a third way: instead of trying to demonstrate our unity (unity that clearly does not exist), let’s celebrate our God-given diversity.

  10. Wendy Chappell-Dick says:

    Today I read the Rule of Love letter for the first time, and I was very moved by the courageous ordained leaders who signed the letter. I am honored to have had many of them as bosses, mentors, pastors, college buddies, music partners, camp counselors, co-workers, and friends. I believe their bravery is transforming our church. I also feel moved to say that the courageous LGBTQ people who are already within the heart of the church, and those who have been pushed outside its walls are transforming us more than a letter ever can.
    I heard there will be a meeting coming up to talk about this within the Executive Board. I am praying that in that meeting, wisdom will move us one step closer to becoming the church of love we were meant to be. Please know that we are here. We may not be vocal enough or write letters to the editor, but we who want this transformation are here, sitting in the pews and waiting for light to come shine in the darkness of discrimination.

    Sincerely,
    Wendy Chappell-Dick

    • Cindy Singer says:

      Dear Brother Ervin:

      I think careful study of the scriptures will reveal new things. I think a careful look at scriptures and The Confession is long overdue.

      My opinion is that as a body we treat LGBTQ ( a long marginalized population) poorly. It is definitely time for this to change now. We should welcome all who walk through our doors with our arms wide open – no matter what. We should welcome all who confess Jesus as Lord Savior and Baptize them and welcome them to the service of the church in which ever capacity they are gifted to serve.

      I believe scriptural study/exegesis will lead us in this direction.

      Shed a new light.

    • John D Harder says:

      I echo those who acknowledge that Ervin’s statement is thoughtful and sensitive. Among the many fine responses here posted, Wendy’s resonates best with my own feelings.

      I would like to comment on “Thirdly, I receive the letter as growing evidence that the consensus forged on the Membership Guidelines in 2001 during the church merger processes is fraying. I lament that the individuals and groups at opposite ends of the spectrum of concerns related to sexual identity and orientation are no longer willing to be in patient forbearance with each other.”

      First, the concept of consensus, while a laudable, desirable goal in the context of making decisions in our churches and conferences, is often a pipe dream, not a reality…even when it appears to be. Motions are brought forward by, and consequently discussed by, those who are comfortable speaking and expressing themselves. Those of us more introverted or shy types mostly listen. When asked for a show of hands, psychologically and sociologically, people who in their hearts have doubts or outright disagreement may put up their hands or abstain so as not to stand out as boat-rockers. Regarding the current topic, I respectfully sincerely doubt that the 2001 Membership Guidelines were agreed to by a true consensus.

      Regarding our willingness to patiently forebear, what truly is lamentable is that so many wonderful Christian brothers and sisters have left the church due to MCUSA’s official stance and/or outright discrimination and ostracization. I realize that this very tough issue requires time for prayer and deliberation, but I admit that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be patient awaiting a new statement that endorses God’s love for all people and acceptance of everyone’s right to live and love according to their true inner nature.

  11. Dee Welch says:

    While I am not a Mennonite I am a reborn sinner saved by faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is the Word of God and never changes. Homosexuality is a sin, as is adultery, lying, stealing, etc. We are to love the sinner not the sin. But, we cannot change what God says by compromising to be popular in this immoral world. If you allow same sex marriage, and women pastors you are compromising. The Bible says women can serve in most capacities in the church but not in venues where they rule over men. Genesis chapter three should make it plain why not. The book of Titus and Jude both makes all these things very clear. Compromise will destroy the fabric of your churches not build it up.

    • Jennifer Yoder says:

      I agree with this completely. It seems to me we want to continue to bend until we are broken. I think we can be loving, yet still hold true to our beliefs as stated in the Bible. No amount of analyzing and re-analyzing is going to change what the Word of God clearly states about all sins. I shudder to think of bringing up my children in a church that can’t stand up for what it believes and what the bible states. Total confusion for what their beliefs really are if we as a church continue to try and change it to fit what we want it to say. The truth can hurt, but it can also heal. We can be loving, yet truthful.

    • Darrell Nefzger says:

      I appreciate what Dee wrote. I am a Mennonite pastor, not a Mennonite by birth, but chose to join the Mennonite church because they were known as “People of the Book” under Menno Simons and the early Mennonites. Allowing gay and lesbian pastors is not Biblical. God has already spoken and He is not the author of confusion. God’s Word has not changed. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. Does loving the sinner mean we condone unbiblical practices? No. Read John’s account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). He told her to stop sinning. Why is that not clear to us? Jesus was not tolerant with sin. So, why are we? The Scriptures need to let God’s Word be our final authority and God has already clearly spoken. Compromise for the sake of unity is never right Biblically. Are we really helping those who are in unbiblical relationships, by saying its okay. If we really want to help those in gay and lesbian relationships, we need to show them Jesus, and He stood for marriage to be between one man and one woman. He was not tolerant of sin. True love is not tolerant of sin either. Amos 3:3, “can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
      My conference does not ordain women. God was very clear on that as well. Why are we compromising what God has already said?
      I do know and pray for Ervin. I am saddened that he is having to deal with issues like this instead of leading the Mennonite Church in making Christ the Light of the World.

  12. Brian says:

    This is a very very old debate which predates christianity. There was, just before the start of Christianity two Rabbis, Shamai and Hillel.

    Shamai had a very literal view of the bible, the laws were followed exactly, while Hillel was much more tolerant and gentle, much like the dispute which is being described here, both sides spoke the words of god, but one leaned more towards law, the other love.

    An example of this debate, should you tell a woman on her wedding day that she is beautiful when she is in fact ugly. The school of Hillel held that such is a lie, and the law is more important. The school of Hillel held that EVERY bride is beautiful on her wedding day, which is also true. Both sides were literally correct, but only one side went past the laws and understood the reasons for the laws.

    Eventually the school of Hillel won the discussion, the house of Shamai and their Zealot supporters eventually lost their dominance, and the teachings of Hillel are to this day found in the new testament, and also in modern Judaism. Even when I listen to what Jesus teaches, I see echoes of Hillel.

    And in this current debate, I see echoes of that first argument between Shamai and Hillel the elder. It’s still a debate between law and love.

    Yet remember that even though both sides could not agree back then, they both ate together, they married each other, they worked together and respected each other, and survived the roman occupation. We need to also strive to be patient, tolerant and kind the way Hillel was, and we need to listen to the other side and not think we have all the answers.

    We need laws, but remember which command in God’s law was the most important. ( as it’s far too easy for lawyers to find scripture to support any position. )

    Matthew 22:36-40
    Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

    I pray the resolution to this can also hang upon these two pegs.

  13. Tom Harder says:

    Thank you, Ervin, for your sensitively worded response. It seems clear to me that unity in the church must also incorporate diversity. Is this not the point, for example, of 1 Corinthians 12? I wonder if one “third way” might be to allow for a greater degree of congregational polity, that is, trust individual congregations to discern such issues as same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBTQ ministers. That, after all, is already happening, and in a Spirit-led, community-centered manner. Such decisions may be “at variance” with the Confession of Faith. But that confession is a guideline, not a doctrine. Perhaps trust in the leading of Christ’s Holy Spirit is what our polity needs most at this time.

  14. Nevin Horning says:

    Ervin, God will grant you and the executive board wisdom beyond your human limitations as you seek his presence with your whole being. Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

  15. Richard Kauffman says:

    I would rather be John Kerry right now negotiating with Iran and trying to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians than be Ervin Stutzman trying to keep MCUSA together. I have empathy for the man, even though I haven’t agreed with him on this issue and spoke with him privately about it 2 years ago. Regardless of one’s position on the issue at hand, Erv and the Executive Board need our prayers. We live in tumultuous times as a church.

  16. Stutzman writes “I lament that the individuals and groups at opposite ends of the spectrum of concerns related to sexual identity and orientation are no longer willing to be in patient forbearance with each other.” I invite him or anyone who is definitely “of one mind” with him to provide a definition of “patient forbearance” in this context. The discussion has been underway among Mennonites at varying levels of intensity for at least a generation, i.e., for many more years than MCUSA has existed.

  17. Jacob Kraybill says:

    The Executive Board will be making decisions behind closed doors to deal with this “situation.”

    Do the discussions need to be secret? Why not record the discussions and release them to all? Don’t we want openness and transparency? Will there at least be minutes released detailing what was said and discussed?

    Simply issuing a statement seems abrupt. And it keeps everyone, except for those in power out, of the loop.

    • Jean Martin says:

      Let’s agree that we welcome all sinners into our churches and call all sinners to repent and come to Jesus to be transformed, just as we did/do. Let’s walk with them as they learn to be new creations in Christ Jesus and let’s present Jesus as the answer to all sin, because He died to get rid of it, and sacrificed his life to save ours. His resurrection is any sinners hope. We could have unity on this if we do not make contingent acceptance of sin as acceptance of sinners. Sin caused separation from God–Jesus restores relationship with God, but sin is done away with. we are not to remain in our sin. This is the gospel–the good news.

  18. Gary Hill says:

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is already completely inclusive. There is no need for a change in church polity.

  19. As a woman who is queer and Mennonite, I’ve thought about this, and have a Response to this letter.

    Several days ago I noticed a flurry of activity – a letter signed by 150 pastors calling for welcome of LGBTQ folks, the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA in response “earnestly desir[ing] that our church be faithful to scripture and God’s call,” articles about these developments, and comment section dust-ups. It seemed appropriate for me to acknowledge this flurry on behalf of my queer Mennonite self, and to make an initial response to the hopes and Menno-speak voiced within that flurry.

    Continued here: http://queermenno.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/108/

  20. Daniel Mellinger says:

    Despite my last name, I am not a cradle Mennonite having been raised in the Catholic faith,(it’s a long story)but my family has attended a Mennonite church for about 14 years. Since I am still learning Mennospeak, a few things are puzzling to me: 1. Why is this one behavior given so much attention while other behaviors are rarely mentioned? Some say that homosexuals (or whatever letters one is supposed to call them)are born that way. If that’s the case, than I assert I was born fat and the church should just accept my gluttony. No better way to enable a glutton than a Mennonite fellowship meal. 2. While some say homosexuals are marginalized or not welcomed by certain Mennonite groups,I assert that many/most non-Mennonites are similarly marginalized/excluded or treated as second class persons. Homosexuals are not the only ones who receive disparate treatment. Ever been forced to play the Mennonite Game as a visitor to a Mennonite church with a surname like mine? Once others find out about my childhood Catholicism I may as well be a leper, a homosexual or a retired Army officer for that matter. 3. I agree that we must love all in the same way God loves all. No question. However, the question is whether or not iron sharpens iron to allow people to grow as Christians, or if our desire for peace/unity/tolerance requires us to enable people instead. 4. Would anyone say it’s OK to remain a glutton while continuing to be a Christian at the same time? I hope not. I will continue to struggle against my gluttony and I ask others to pray for me. Why then do we try to allow folks to remain homosexuals and Christians at the same time. 5. Could someone from the homosexual community please enlighten me what the 1st chapter of Romans means? 6. We are not alone in asking these questions about homosexuality, as other denominations are in the same boat. 7. In conclusion, I agree we need to pray for those in authority over us. I agree we should love all and allow Jesus to judge the living and the dead. If I were present when Jesus was asked about the woman caught in adultery, there is no way I could cast the first stone. Grace and peace to all.

  21. Donald R. Steelberg says:

    I would like to propose that the Executive Board in its February meeting invite those churches asking for an inclusive membership form their own conference, releasing them from Mennonite Church USA. “New Light” separations and reconciliations are not unknown in recent church history.

    It is time to move on in this discussion, and unfair to force those into agreement who are not ready to make this decision.

    The conference could be incorporated as Mennonite Church with the confession of faith that Jesus is Lord, for the purpose of binding together for mutual giving and receiving of counsel and the certification of clergy.

    For some years as clergy I have not wanted to do the work of the state in marrying couples, preferring that they go to a judge for marriage as in Europe and come to the church for blessing. This would allow same-sex couples to receive the same blessing as heterosexual couples. Not doing the work of the state seems a clear Anabaptist principle. In fact, were I younger and seeking a congregation I would stipulate this.

  22. John Groff says:

    Ervin, Our prayers are with you and the Executive Committee. I’ve been reflecting on Revelation, chapter 22. I understand this to be the very words of Jesus through the angel. I encourage all to read and reread this chapter. This covers a multitude of sins that the human race has been dealing with since Adam. From animal behavior to living a lie. One of the falsehoods I see is renaming the word, “Marriage”.
    All have sinned. It’s what we do with them that matters. It’s not so much the orientation as the action, as Rev. 22:12 reminds us. Folks, Jesus may be coming soon.

  23. Roy G. Dahl says:

    I lament that the individuals and groups at opposite ends of the spectrum of concerns related to sexual identity and orientation are no longer willing to be in patient forbearance with each other. . .

    I fail to understand the perception that BOTH ends of the spectrum are no longer willing to be in patient forbearance. The anti-inclusion elements of the MCUSA have been more than willing to “patiently forbear” for decades, which basically meant sitting in the comfortable status quo and telling the rest of us to stop making waves.

  24. Donald R. Steelberg says:

    I would like to challenge Mennonite Pastors to take a positive step in support of same-sex marriage, by refusing to act for the state in signing wedding licenses;as Anabaptists separation of church and state invites this; couples would first go before a judge,then come to the church for a blessing and no ceremonial details would change. If the 150 + pastors responding to the Adams plea would take this step a strong witness would be effected. Were I young again and answering a call to a church I would stipulate this as my intention. Some time ago I proposed this in a letter to the Mennonite, but publication was refused; MWR did publish this proposal.

  25. Nita Landis says:

    While agreeing with Todd Steele (Feb 4) that unity can be an idol (a false god to which we make inappropriate sacrifices), I disagree with him that the third way which he suggests – celebrating our “God-given” diversity in the area of human sexuality – is a life-giving way forward.

    I know and love a number of people who experience same-sex attraction and choose to act in a variety of ways in response to it. And I choose, like Ron Adams, to live from the rule of love that Jesus so beautifully and powerfully modeled for us. But I believe we ignore God’s design for sexual activity as described in the Scriptures — one man and one woman in a life-long covenant relationship called marriage — at our peril.

    I definitely agree that Jesus calls me to love those who practice sexual activity outside God’s design described in the Bible. But I cannot agree that loving these dear ones means agreeing with them that what is outside God’s design is good and right.

    My personal area of deepest struggle to align with the teaching of scripture is God’s instructions to not fear and to not worry. I have battled anxiety for much of my life and spent a number of months trapped in an officially diagnosed panic disorder at one miserable point in my journey.

    Those who loved me best and truly did not say, “Oh, it’s okay that you tend to worry. You can keep on acting out of your anxiety because God loves you.” No, they steadfastly expressed their unconditional love and acceptance for me, and they also gently and compassionately kept pointing me to God’s good way of freedom from worry and anxiety, helping me to heal and find my way back into alignment with God’s design for us — to live at peace as we trust in Him.

    I aspire to be one who loves people whose sexual activity falls outside of God’s design both by expressing unconditional love and acceptance AND by holding out the path of life that God has designed rather than abandoning the person to a way that eventually leads to death.

    Can we achieve agreement/unity on this question of whether or not the practice of sexual activity outside of “one man and one woman in a life-long covenant relationship called marriage” is good or bad, right or wrong? I’m not sure we can.

    The unity of the Scripture is not a “your viewpoint is okay, my viewpoint is okay” kind of unity, but a unity that flows both from love for Jesus and an unwavering commitment to Truth that touches every sphere of life, including human sexuality. This commitment to a biblical worldview persists in the face of even the strongest winds of contemporary culture.

    Are there matters of biblical interpretation on which we will differ? Of course. The Bible itself is clear that there are secondary matters, non-essentials, on which we will differ. I believe that “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity” is a good approach.

    But is the definition of “God-designed, life-giving practices of human sexuality” one of those non-essential, secondary matters? I don’t think so.

    So must we part ways? Perhaps. Must we do so with cursing and harshness? No.

    Ervin, you and the others who are leading our Mennonite stream of the Body of Christ during this tumultuous time of corporate discernment are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Blessings to all.

    • gary hill says:

      Pro 25:11 A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver. [Prov. 15:23; Isa. 50:4.]

    • David Mueller says:

      As a “young,” 26 year old Mennonite, I have often felt like single voice in the crowd of my generation. A generation which speaks so adamantly about inclusion and acceptance while calling those of us who believe homosexual practice is not within God’s plan for us hateful, condemning and unenlightened. In a debate where frivolous language abounds and interpretive liberties concerning scripture are rampant, it is so encouraging to read such a thoughtful, concise, and eloquent position as Ms. Landis provides.
      The thought of raising a child in a church which, rather than hold it’s members accountable and encourage them to live in a way that honors God and their bodies, condones the practice of their sinful, human desires, is deeply troubling.
      My prayers are with Mr. Stutzman, whom I have found to be a wise and capable leader for MCUSA, the Executive Board, and for every person whom identifies him or her self as a Mennonite, for if we let it, this debate can and will tear us apart.

      • John D Harder says:

        David, I have one question for you: Who do you feel is advocating open acceptance of those who practice sinful, human desires? I don’t read into anyone’s comments that they would condone wanton promiscuity or any form of self-serving behavior that takes advantage of and creates suffering in others.

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