This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Authority unsettled

In preparation for the merger of the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church, the 1999 proposed Membership Guidelines had statements giving congregations authority in regard to members as part of congregational polity and giving conferences authority in regard to members as part of conference polity. These statements were deleted in the Membership Guidelines adopted in 2001. The issue of where authority resides has not been settled. Tinkering with structures likely will not resolve the matter. Will the merger survive? The Mennonite Church had congregational authority until the late 19th century, when conferences began to take authority. Perhaps a minority group can teach the majority how to resolve the crisis. A group of Hispanic leaders in the Western District Conference has stated, in essence: 1) We affirm the denominational position on homosexuality; 2) We ask that others respect us in holding this position; 3) We will respect congregations that accept celibate homosexuals and married homosexual couples; 4) We will not leave the conference but seek to keep the unity to which we are called. Jesus calls us to love indiscriminately as the Father does.

Harold Bauman
Goshen, Ind.

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