Allegheny calls for reconciliation with Maryland church
2005 discipline removed Hyattsville’s voting rightsBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite World Review
The Leadership Council of Allegheny Mennonite Conference believes it is time to work toward reconciliation with Hyattsville (Md.) Mennonite Church.
In 2005, Allegheny delegates disciplined Hyattsville — making it a non-voting participant — after a pastor became aware of the extent of Hyattsville’s inclusion of gays and lesbians and brought a complaint to the conference minister.
Delegates found the 110-member congregation’s practice to be inconsistent with Mennonite Church USA’s Membership Guidelines.
The guidelines affirm earlier church statements that say homosexual, extramarital and premarital sexual activity is sin.
Hyattsville lost its vote at conference sessions, and its members cannot hold elected positions. It retained its conference membership, and the conference has continued to hold its pastors’ credentials.
At the conference’s March 31 delegate session, moderator John Bender presented the Leadership Council’s commitment to work toward reconciliation.
The council believes Allegheny Conference and the Hyattsville congregation “have much in common, and there are many things we can learn from one another,” said Bender, pastor of Pittsburgh Mennonite Church, at the delegate session. “On the things we may disagree about, we want to continually invite each other to faithfulness in following the way of Jesus.”
He acknowledged that some people have fears about what reconciliation means.
“The Leadership Council senses that no one wants to engage in a long, protracted dialogue about homosexuality within [Allegheny] Conference that will consume our energy and keep us from fulfilling our congregational missions,” he said. “… But we on the Leadership Council are committed to working toward reconciliation.”
The council’s commitment grew out of discernment at its work retreat in February.
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