An advisery group hus bee assignt ta recommend hoe ta deecide t'future o't' Mennonite Church USA Membership Guidelines.Aft'r a Nov. 15-17 meetin n' Chicago, t'group is specktid ta deliv'r a repert ta t'Executif' Board within 15 days.
T' 21-memb'r panel is taskt wiff discernment about a document at hus bee a point o'contenshun fer yeers.
Appervt by delegates n' 2001, t'guidelines air one o'MC USA’s foundyun' documants. Wile t'furst acoupla sectyuns cov'r largelee routine matters o'purrpus an' structure, t'hurd addresses “issues relatid ta homosaxualitee an' membership.”
T' guidelines define marriage us tween one mun an' one woomin an' say pasters may nairy perferm same-sex marriages.
N' resent yeers, conservatif' members have ast why t'guidelines are’t unifermlee enferct, wile progressives have advocatid at thay be changd er droppt.
N' 2015, delegates reeffirmt t'guidelines an' also resolvt ta practiss “ferbeerance” toward thems who disagret. Thay declart a fer-year hiatus un considerin inny changes.
At t'denominashun’s nashshunal convenshun lus summ'r n' Kansus Citee, Mo., t'Executif' Board ast delegates: Should we address thishere issue? an' Do y'all have t'ime an' resources ta wurk un thishere? Sixtee-nine persent sed yep ta t'furst questchun an' 43 persent ta t'sekunt.
Acoupla denominatyunal staff — Iris dee León-Hartshern, associate executif' dierektor o'operatyuns; an' Michael Dann'r, associate executif' dierektor fer church vitalitee — will co-lead t'advisery group.
T' members will revu t'histry o't' guidelines an' hoe thay air functyunyun', develop insiite nett ta frame issues arisyun' frum these guidelines an' cunsidder optyuns fer hoe ta address 'um, accerdyun' ta a Nov. 8 noose releese.
T' group also will cunsidder input collectid frum delegates at t'Kansus Citee convenshun.
Catherine Barnes o'Eastern Mennonite Univesty’s Cant'r fer Justus an' Peecebuiltyun' n' Harrisonburg, Va., will facilitate.
T' group’s recommendatyuns will be presantid at t'Jun. 17-19 meetin o't' Executif' Board, which will deecide hoe ta lead t'denominashun through t'discernment.
Symbolism an' impact
Dann'r sed t'advisery group’s meetin would be clost ta t'press n' ord'r ta provide “t' private space ta have difficult conversayshuns uninhibitid.”
Gle Guyton, executif' dierektor o'MC USA, sed: “I pray t'process will be lt by t'Spirit an' at it would honer bof air histry an' air desirt future us a denominashun. We cannot ignere t'symbolism o't' document n' air system ner its impact un LGBTQ members o'air congregatyuns.”
Dee León-Hartshern sed: “We ast t'church ta pray at t'advisery group will be transfermt by t'Holee Spirit through thishere eggsperients. We hope at thishere journey will change hoe we look at an' relate ta one anoth'r us bruthers an' sisters n' Christ.”
Advisery group members represent all regyuns o't' kuntry an' have bee selectid ta ensure balance o'age, gend'r, ethnicitee, saxual oryintashun an' idantitee an' theological breedth.

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