Atlantic Coast Conference of Mennonite Church USA welcomed one congregation and said goodbye to another during its fall assembly Oct. 25 at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa.
With an 88 percent vote, delegates accepted Frazer Mennonite Church, formerly of Lancaster Mennonite Conference, as a full member. The church, which expresses openness to gay members, became an associate member April 20, 2013.
ACC conference minister Warren Tyson said the issue was broader than sexuality. Frazer was looking for a conference with more congregational polity and stronger connections to MC USA.
“Our conference has had a history of being congregational [and of giving] more latitude to how churches faithfully carry out God’s mission,” he said. “That polity was something that Frazer was looking for.”
At the 2013 ACC gathering, Frazer Pastor Brenda Martin Hurst said the church requested ACC membership after it became clear Lancaster Conference would not support a statement welcoming anyone into membership who professes faith in Christ.
At that time, delegates voted 69 percent in favor, and the conference began 18 months of dialogue and discernment. A task force was appointed to develop study materials and settings to gather leaders with different perspectives on welcome and inclusion of LGBT people. The group encouraged people in the conference to invite others from ACC churches with differing viewpoints to their homes for dinner.
Sandy Hill Community Church in Coatesville, Pa., requested to be released from the conference. The church is joining the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations.