Southeast Conference takes away pastor’s credentials
Pastor is gay and wants to ‘pursue a covenanted same-sex relationship’By Celeste Kennel-Shank Mennonite Weekly Review
Southeast Conference of Mennonite Church USA has revoked the credentials of a gay pastor.
Randy Spaulding of Covenant Mennonite Fellowship in Sarasota, Fla., had told conference leaders he does not wish to commit to celibacy.
Marco Güete, conference minister, sent a letter Sept. 28 to Southeast’s pastors and credentials leaders regarding the Leadership Board’s decision “in response to Pastor Randy Spaulding’s disclosure of his desire to pursue a covenanted same-sex relationship.”
“On that basis and Mennonite Church USA guidelines regarding human sexuality, which we in Southeast Mennonite Conference affirm, and in order to keep the unity of our conference, they asked that Randy Spaulding voluntarily resign as Pastor of Covenant Mennonite Fellowship” effective Nov. 30, the letter said.
Spaulding met once in July with the Leadership Board, and the board formed a task force, he said in a phone interview.
“It was my understanding that I would begin dialogue with the task force,” Spaulding said.
At his first meeting with the task force, they announced their decision, Spaulding said.
“I think the process dishonored the call from MC USA to respectful dialogue and to walking together in dialogue in the midst of disagreement,” he said.
Spaulding does not intend to resign as pastor of Covenant Mennonite, he said.
“It has never been my desire to convert or convince anyone who disagrees with me,” he said. “This conference is my family. I’ve worshiped with these brothers and sisters; I’ve served beside them, with hurricanes and floods.”
The congregation’s council has committed to responding to the resignation request by Nov. 30, they wrote to the conference in a Sept. 22 letter.
“The decision from the conference came so abruptly that we are not yet prepared to respond to their specific requirements, but we support Randy wholeheartedly and do not want to lose him as our pastor,” Debra Gingerich, Covenant Mennonite’s leadership council chair, wrote in an e-mail.
A year ago, another MC USA conference, Franconia, took away the credentials of a gay pastor. Michael Schaadt of Alpha (N.J.) Mennonite Church had told the conference he could not continue under an agreement that he would be celibate.
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