Are Canadian Mennonite Brethren churches interested in talking about issues related to ministering to members of the LGBTQ community?
The answer is yes, according to a recently released survey from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary.
According to the survey, 88 percent of churches say they want help navigating the complexities of ministering to LGBTQ community.
The only topic getting a higher response was how to read and understand the Bible, at 93 percent.
Other topics that registered highly included how to maximize discipleship (86 percent), engaging volunteers (82 percent), managing conflict (82 percent) and Medical Assistance in Dying (75 percent).
The survey was answered by 29 percent of 215 Canadian MB congregations, representing over 21,000 attendees or 57 percent of the denomination.
“Gender and sexuality are topics that are top of mind for many churches,” said Mark Wessner, seminary president. “As a denomination, we need to figure out a way for people to have important conversations like these.”
For John Unger — the former Manitoba MB pastor who helped organize an open letter signed by 500 people from over 40 churches to urge the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches to facilitate conversations on LGBTQ welcome — the survey shows “that those of us who released the open letter are not a radical fringe group.”
Elton DaSilva, national director of the CCMBC, believes “our churches are searching for resources that help them better engage with the LGBTQ community” while “also searching for clarity on how to best do this while still maintaining the theological convictions we presently hold.”
How to have this conversation has made up the bulk of the last two National Faith and Life Team meetings, DaSilva said, adding that “our hope is that by the end of 2021 we will have steps in place for these conversations to happen.”
The goal will be to engage churches “in practical pastoral applications to our Confession that will help us to better engage and minister to the LGBTQ community,” he said.