By Phil Rosenberger, Pastor, Light of Life Mennonite Church
We all know that there have been disagreements in our conference over the last few years. Disagreements over how things should be done, how decisions should be made, how we should understand the Bible, and what is right or wrong. Many letters have been written, meetings have been held and decisions have been made. As a result, there has been some celebration, but there has also been anger and frustration. Common ground has not found on the issue of inclusion and some have left our fellowship.
On February 4, 2017 a group of leaders and lay people from several of our conference churches gathered to talk. We came together carrying some of that anger and confusion. So many of our constants have been up-ended and the things that have always been normal are changing in ways that don’t fit our understandings. Some would say we need to change with the times, and maybe they’re right, but how does one change one’s conscience? While our meeting was not organized by the conference, it wasn’t intended to be secretive. Linford King, Transitional Conference Minister was present as an observer. Our purpose was to engage in a process of discerning Gods will and to consider alternatives; to seek different ways, and to listen for God.
Time was intentionally set aside to allow each to express their feelings, but the discussion quickly turned to “what now?” There was a deep desire to find a way forward that would allow each of us to live and fellowship in a way that honors our convictions and our understanding of God’s will. We admitted the possibility that we may need to seek others with whom to fellowship. At the same time, however, we admitted that our roots in Mountain States Conference are deep and we have many dear friends. We have a rich heritage here and we want to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, out of that context.
We did not come to any conclusions or make any big decisions, but it was good being together in a setting where it felt safe to think out loud, to expose our feelings, and to seek alternatives and better ways. We will be meeting again in a few weeks, and we thought we would let you know about us. We recognize the need for a thorough process so God’s will is evident. Such a process needs to include everyone—including those who disagree. Therefore, we welcome anyone with an interest in these discussions to join us as we engage in this process. If you would like to join us in this discussion, contact Preston Hofer at firstname.lastname@example.org for the date, time and location of our next meeting.
May God bless us all.