Historic congregation marks one decade independent
Germantown Mennonite Church removed from final conference 10 years agoBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
The oldest Mennonite congregation in North America will soon mark one decade as a church without a conference or denomination.
Germantown Mennonite Church in Philadelphia began as early as 1687 and observed its first baptism in 1708.
Centuries passed, and the congregation developed dual affiliation in the Franconia and Eastern District conferences of what became Mennonite Church USA.
The congregation was expelled from Franconia Conference in 1997 for granting church membership to gays and lesbians in covenanted relationships. In November 2002, the congregation was removed from EDC, and therefore from MC USA, after ordaining a gay man.
“By the time we had gotten kicked out the first time, we expected to get kicked out the second time,” said Germantown pastor Amy Yoder McGloughlin.
She has been attending the church since 1996, and started as pastor in 2010.
Not being part of wider activities was painful at first. The congregation avoided seeking other conference affiliations.
As part of its local ministries, Germantown eventually joined a Philadelphia-area interfaith hospitality network.
“We found being part of something outside the Mennonite network gave us more energy and helped us understand our own identity separate from the institution,” she said.
About half the congregation did not grow up Mennonite, and after reading together Stuart Murray’s The Naked Anabaptist, many — including Yoder McGloughlin — identified more Anabaptist and less Mennonite.
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