Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC), our conference - voted in March to welcome churches who are fully inclusive of gays and lesbians. Hyattsville (our sister church) is only one of those. Several other churches have been moved by the Spirit to welcome gays and lesbians into all parts of the church. Because of this decision, churches are leaving the Conference. Today, I have learned that many of the Mennonite churches in Johnstown are considering their options for leaving AMC. Lancaster Conference - the largest conference of MCUSA is in a discernment process about leaving our denomination. As these church divorces surround us - I am deeply saddened. It is deeply disturbing to me that followers of Christ would find it so important to build walls of separation from other churches who read scripture differently than they do.
I rejoice often that Stahl has strongly supported staying in relationship with AMC. I pray that we can continue to stay in relationship with the local Mennonite Churches in spite of all the division that is happening. I also pray that we can see a vision for what is happening. I pray that we can understand what the Spirit of God is up to in our midst and start to see what is next. Out of my desire to help stop some of the division, I have started work on a project that intends to help churches relate to and understand each other - a sort of Bible study where inclusive churches can share how scripture and the Spirit has moved them to welcome gays and lesbians. My nudging is that this project might help us respect and love each other in the midst of disagreement. My fear is that it will be too little and too late for those who feel they must leave to preserve their faithfulness, but followers of Jesus should not operate based on fear.
Please pray for the church - MCUSA, AMC, and Stahl. Pray for patience, loving kindness and gentleness. Pray for a vision of God’s work in and through our midst. Pray the Holy Spirit come!
- Bob Brown, pastor