Rainbow, meet my good friend and colleague in ministry, Joanna Harader. She will be your preacher on Sunday, February 16. You can learn more about Joanna by visiting her blog, Spacious Faith. Joanna will preach on the beloved messy community. This will include some of her thoughts on what is happening right now in the Mennonite Church in relation to the beloved LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community. Please read on if you are curious what this debate looks like right now in MCUSA (Mennonite Church USA). It seems to get messier by the day.
Another friend I would like to introduce is Theda Good. Recently the Leadership Board of the Mountain States Conference unanimously elected to license her as pastor of nurture and fellowship at First Mennonite Church in Denver, Colorado. Her licensing service took place at First Mennonite Denver on Sunday, February 2. Theda is now the first openly lesbian pastor to be licensed in the Mennonite Church USA.
I hope to get to know Theda (and Joanna for that matter!) better in the coming months and years. For now, here is window into my friendship with Joanna and Theda (simply click to read) Charmed with courage-updated
A third friend I would like to introduce is Stephanie Krehbiel. Stephanie is doing dissertation research on issues related to LGBTQ people in MCUSA. As such, a big part of her job is, in her words: “To keep track of the endless political developments related to sexual diversity in the church: pastors performing same-sex marriages, regional conferences reviewing the credentials of pastors, various collective statements in support of LGBTQ people and other statements with the implicit threat that if LGBTQ people and their supporters aren’t censured/disciplined/expelled, their congregations will withdraw from the conference.”
In a recent letter that Stephanie wrote to friends and family, she reminds us that the Executive Board of MCUSA is meeting February 13-15, and there are several key developments on their agenda, which she outlines as follows:
1) The licensing of Theda Good as a pastor by Mountain States Conference. See the national coverage: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/theda-good-gay-mennonite_n_4723272.html?utm_hp_ref=tw, http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/02/03/mennonites-prepare-ordain-first-openly-gay-minister
2) Eastern Mennonite University’s decision to reexamine their discriminatory hiring policies in relation to LGBTQ people. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/19/eastern-mennonite-u-will-review-policy-hiring-gay-faculty
3) A recent letter from 150 ordained pastors in the MCUSA, declaring support and acceptance for LGBTQ members. http://www.mennoworld.org/2014/2/3/150-appeal-behalf-sexual-minorities/
Ervin Stutzman, the Executive Director of MCUSA, has been weighing in on these developments. See his letters to the MCUSA membership: http://www.mennoniteusa.org/2014/01/27/call-to-prayer-from-ervin-stutzman/
Another one is here:
I’m hoping that Stephanie will come to Rainbow on Sunday and that you have a chance to meet her! I say “you” because I’ll actually be in Lawrence getting to know Peace Mennonite congregation. I trust it will be a good morning for community building, even if it gets a little messy 🙂 Oh, and make sure to stay for the Sunday school hour. Joanna (and maybe Stephanie?) has agreed to stay for extended conversation about these important matters facing MCUSA.