Central District takes 2-part action on pastor’s credentials
Pastor’s ministry affirmed; actions ‘at variance’ with MC USA guidelinesBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite World Review
The Ministerial Committee of Central District Conference has reviewed the credentials of an Illinois pastor who performed three same-sex covenant ceremonies in 2011 and has come to a two-part decision.
Megan Ramer, pastor of Chicago Community Mennonite Church, performed the ceremonies with the prior blessing of the congregation.
After a nine-month discernment process, the Ministerial Committee made two decisions: they affirmed Ramer’s ministerial gifts and her pastoral work at Chicago Community Mennonite Church; and they will note in Ramer’s Ministerial Leadership Information form, or MLI, that her actions in performing same-sex unions are at variance with Mennonite Church USA’s Membership Guidelines.
“Noting this on her MLI is one way of being accountable to the wider church,” said Joel Miller, a member of the Ministerial Committee and pastor of Cincinnati (Ohio) Mennonite Fellowship.
Miller said reviewing Ramer’s credentials was “an occasion to engage with [Ramer] and the congregation.”
The committee’s discernment process “felt like what church should be — deep listening to one another, searching for biblical wisdom and openness to the leading of the Spirit,” he said.
Prior to Ramer’s actions, Chicago Community Mennonite Church came to consensus around a marriage-practice statement on May 15, 2011, affirming any ordained or licensed person in the congregation to perform a covenant ceremony for any couple, if he or she is willing to do so.
Civil unions became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2011.
“The change in our state law was an opportunity for us to take stock of how we wanted to practice ministry and marriage commitment ceremonies,” said congregational chair Celeste Groff. “We didn’t feel compelled to [create the marriage practice statement] because of the new state law.”
In June, Ramer contacted Lois Johns Kaufmann, conference minister of Central District Conference, about requests for commitment ceremonies. In August, Ramer informed the conference of her plans to perform several same-sex covenant ceremonies.
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