A STATEMENT OF FAITH AND CALL TO PRAYER



We as the bishops of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference affirm our love, respect, and desire for unity with brothers and sisters in every part of the Mennonite church worldwide. By the grace of Christ, we wish to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) 

Our common identity is in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Pet. 2:9) He came to us full of both grace and truth. (John 1:14) In seeking to participate in forging a new national identity for the Mennonite Church USA, we wish to affirm both grace and truth, both unity and holiness. 

When the delegates to the Mennonite General Assembly (St. Louis, 1999) did not reaffirm the faith statement that sexual relations are reserved for a man and a woman in marriage, many in the church were left in a state of uncertainty and confusion. We believe it is important at this time for each Christian community to reaffirm their beliefs and to encourage and strengthen others in the faith once delivered to the saints. 

In light of these considerations we wish to make the following faith and polity statements:

  • We believe that our sexuality is a good gift from God. We also believe that God through Christ has given us clear directions on managing our sexuality to his glory. We believe that Godís grace teaches us to say ďnoĒ to ungodliness and worldly lusts and to say ďyesĒ to the demands of Christ on our lives. We also believe that Godís grace gives us the energy and the ability to carry out Godís call to holy living.
  • We believe with the Purdue statement that homosexual, extramarital and premarital sexual activity are all sin is based on the scripture and should be the teaching position of the church.
  • We believe that the church should teach and support people in either a life of celibacy or a lifetime marriage between one man and one woman.
  • We do not believe that all persons with homosexual desire will experience a miraculous change of orientation if they come to Christ. Rather, we believe that Christ will give the person struggling with homosexual desire, as well as the one struggling with heterosexual desire, the grace to avoid expressing that desire in homosexual, premarital or extramarital sexual behavior.
  • We will seek ways to minister gracefully to those dealing with homosexual desire, including those who are in same-sex covenantal partnerships. We will endeavor to make the church a safe and welcoming place for all who come, while at the same time faithfully proclaiming and living the truth of Godís Word with compassion, patience, and hope.
  • We believe that where conferences and congregations are committed to these teaching points, they should have the freedom to seek Godís wisdom and discernment as to how to apply these principles in a life giving way in the many chaotic, broken and sinful situations which present themselves to the church.
  • We ask, respectfully and prayerfully, that churchwide leadership make every effort to bring a resolution to the next Delegate Assembly that we could affirm together as an expression of common conviction with respect to homosexual behavior.
  • During this interim season of deliberation, we commit ourselves to walking with the national church, yet acknowledging a tentativeness about the future which results from the uncertainty and confusion described above.
  • Because we believe that homosexual behavior is sinful and that God does not condone sin, we believe that the new united denomination will need to make its teaching position clear on these issues. We believe that we cannot be faithful to our understanding of Scripture that homosexual behavior is sin and join with a church body which does not support these commitments.
  • We reaffirm both our love for the Mennonite Church and our desire to see the church stand in faithfulness to the scriptures. We do not wish to choose between unity and holiness in forging a new identity.
  • We call ourselves, along with the whole church, to prayer and a renewed commitment to Christís lordship.
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    2/1/2000
     
    January 21, 2000