ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA)—The Executive Committee (EC) of the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA sent letters Aug. 4 to North Central Conference (NCC) of the Mennonite Church and Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC), expressing a commitment to pray for and stay in relationship with each of them even as the area conferences make decisions about leaving the denomination.
NCC delegates passed a motion at their July 17–19 annual assembly to begin a yearlong process of withdrawing from Mennonite Church USA. The following week, LMC leaders announced a proposal that “LMC withdraw as an area conference of Mennonite Church USA,” which will be discussed in area meetings over the next weeks before a final decision is made this fall.
The EC discussed the conferences’ decisions while meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, following the Mennonite World Conference Assembly.
“As a leadership body within Mennonite Church USA, our Executive Committee longs for you to stay with us, for you to remain part of our church,” wrote EC members Patty Shelly, David Boshart, Phil Rich, Joy Sutter and Isaac Villegas in letters addressed to each conference. “You are part of us, and we can’t imagine our church without you, without our shared mission and ministry, without our communion in the same denominational fellowship.”
The letters expressed gratitude for the ways in which God has worked through the ministries and presence of NCC and LMC, respectively; for each conference’s desire to follow Jesus faithfully and for their support of the church’s mission across the world. The EC also noted how the Holy Spirit heals divisions between people in the church.
“‘The church welcomes all people who join themselves to Christ to become part of the family of God,’ we’ve declared in our Confession of faith,” the EC members wrote. “We are the family of God together. Mennonite Church USA is committed to remaining part of the same family as you, and we will welcome you again and again, even as you separate yourselves from us.”
The letters drew on the Confession of faith in a Mennonite perspective in appealing for members of the church to stay together even when differences arise: “We believe that you are essential to our Mennonite body, as we are being built together into a dwelling place for God, a spiritual home for the good news of Jesus Christ in a world that longs for God’s love.”
The letters are available online in English and Spanish:
- Letter to North Central Conference: English Spanish
- Letter to Lancaster Mennonite Conference: English Spanish
—Mennonite Church USA staff