Western District upholds decision not to discipline pastorBy Paul Schrag Mennonite World Review
OKLAHOMA CITY — Western District Conference delegates on July 7 upheld a decision by a leadership group not to discipline a Kansas pastor for performing a same-sex covenant ceremony.
At the conference’s annual assembly, delegates turned down a request by Bethel Mennonite Church of Inman, Kan., to overrule the Leadership Commission’s decision.
Bethel presented a resolution to suspend the ministerial credentials of Joanna Harader, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kan.
Bethel’s original motion never came to a vote. Instead, delegates amended it, replacing the part that would have suspended Harader’s credentials with a statement noting that her action was “at variance” with Mennonite Church USA’s Membership Guidelines.
Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church of Wichita, Kan., proposed the amendment. The motion to amend passed 184-154, or 54 percent in favor. Delegates then approved the amended motion 203-136, or 60 percent in favor.
MC USA’s 2001 Membership Guidelines forbid pastors to lead same-sex covenant ceremonies but do not require discipline for breaking the rule.
The “at variance” notation will be recorded on Harader’s Ministerial Leadership Information form.
The Western District delegates’ decision is similar to one made recently in Central District Conference. An Illinois pastor who performed three same-sex covenant ceremonies was not disciplined, but her actions were noted as “at variance” with the denomination’s guidelines.
Presenting the original motion, Max Fuqua of Bethel Mennonite Church said the Leadership Commission’s decision not to discipline Harader was “outrageous, rebellious and unacceptable.”
He said Bethel members voted unanimously to bring the motion to the assembly.
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