The following statement was approved by Community Mennonite Church of Stouffville at the June 7, 2015 Program Meeting. Only the words in italics were voted on. The background that follows the approved statement was given to the congregation as a summary of comments made when the congregation participated in Mennonite Church Canada’s Being a Faithful Church process, which led to the Statement of Position on LGBTQ Inclusiveness being proposed.
Statement of Position on LGBTQ Inclusiveness
With a desire to show Christ’s love, we as CMC commit to be a welcoming church community. We understand this to mean that regardless of innate sexual orientation and gender identity, God’s gift of physical sexual expression is available to all, and we embrace everyone who wants to be part of the body of Christ. This can be expressed through attending worship, participating in programs and activities, becoming a member and taking active leadership roles. We commit to encouraging all within our community to uphold and aspire to the Biblical call to faithfulness, self-discipline, mutual respect and life-long covenant in sexual relationships.
As members of the Church, we regret the hurt that we have caused LGBTQ individuals and families through active discrimination, passive complicity and judging same-sex relationships as sinful. Going forward, we intend to engage respectfully with LGBTQ persons, Mennonite Church conference bodies, its institutions, and congregations, and the greater Canadian Mennonite community.
We considered several factors in arriving at our position. Following is a summary of the rationale which helped guide our position.
It is acknowledged that the direct references to homosexuality in the Bible speak against it as an acceptable practice. While scripture is a wonderful source of truth, we believe it is written from the perspective of people in their place and time. Like Jesus (e.g., Matthew 5:21ff.), we need to continually understand it and reinterpret it in our current context and understanding. Some of the following points are ones that have been significant to our interpretation of scripture.
Listening to the Spirit
Through the BFC process we have been listening to each other to discern what the Holy Spirit might be saying. We have also talked about how knowledge about sexual orientation has changed in our lifetime and about what we see happening in the culture we live in. In our understanding of the missional worldview, we look for God at work in the world and so we have observed the following:
Mennonite Confession of Faith
Since the authorization of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, the Mennonite Church has taken a position of accepting same sex attracted people into congregational life so long as they adhered to a practiced abstinence. While we respect the thinking of the past, we note:
Relationship with the Broader Church
We long to remain a part of the Mennonite Church – both regionally and nationally. We believe that the focus of the Church should be on what God is calling us to - and not trying to convince others to move towards our own positions. There are many points of theology on which we probably disagree - we do not see this as being one that should break the church apart.
The Anabaptist tradition of a ‘Priesthood of Believers’ includes the congregation playing an important role in discerning on matters of faith and membership. We believe we are being called to this position and respectfully accept that others may be led differently. We trust that the Church’s common goal of being Christ’s light to world will overcome the items which separate us.
For a list of welcoming churches in North America, visit www.gaychurch.org.
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