Community Mennonite
Inclusion Statement

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.

Background

We considered several factors in arriving at our position. Following is a summary of the rationale which helped guide our position.

Scriptural Interpretation

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.

  • Homosexuality was perceived at the time to be a willful abomination or perversion – and not understood to be an orientation to which people are born.
  • Jesus talked with and visited people that were on the margins of society and people who were considered unrighteous, inviting them to experience God’s reign/shalom.
  • While Paul’s writing has passages that call homosexuality a sin (Romans 1:18-32), he also calls for the gospel to be open to all … “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

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:

  • Society’s acceptance of homosexuality as an orientation from birth, rather than an immoral choice, has led to less violence toward a vulnerable minority (e.g., anti-bullying campaigns in schools, non-discrimination laws for the workplace). When LGBTQ people feel safer and it is easier to choose a healthy lifestyle, we see signs of God’s shalom.
  • Our Church’s history has at times included hateful speech about homosexuals and today many people will not attend church because of those words. Continued opposition to accepting LGBTQ members and to blessing same-sex marriage is creating a barrier to people hearing the Gospel. Our messages about self-control and commitment go unheard when the Church declares that homosexual relations are sinful. When LGBTQ people can hear the Good News of Christian sexuality as it applies to them, leading to healthier and more stable homes, we see God’s shalom.
  • Rather than seeing LGBTQ people transformed into heterosexuals with things such as “Conversion Therapy”, we are seeing them leave the Church broken and angry. It seems to us that the Church is creating alienation from God because of its rejection of LGBTQ people. Some churches have accepted LGBTQ people and they have joined the body of Christ. When the Church accepts the gifts that LGBTQ people bring, the Church is blessed. We see this as a sign of God’s shalom.

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:

  • Our Anabaptist beginnings were spawned by a divergence from long held church doctrine and practice. The Anabaptists had a strong sense of the Holy Spirit’s leading as they chose to do things differently.
  • Mennonite Church Canada (that is, MC Canada’s predecessors) has changed on other positions – women in leadership, head coverings, divorce and remarriage. Not all congregations have followed the teaching position of the national body on these issues but they have remained in fellowship with it.

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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