Mountain States Conference will be the first conference in Mennonite Church USA to license an openly gay pastor.
Theda Good will be licensed for her role as pastor of nurture and fellowship at First Mennonite Church of Denver on Feb. 2.
Good, who is in a committed relationship with another woman, joined First Mennonite’s staff in August 2012.
She has a master of divinity degree with a concentration in spiritual formation/direction from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va.
Mountain States Conference announced Dec. 22 its Leadership Board had unanimously agreed to affirm Good’s licensing after a yearlong process of conversation and listening.
MC USA polity describes licensure as a time of testing that can, but does not necessarily, lead to ordination.
First Mennonite sent a letter requesting licensure to the Mountain States Ministerial Council about a year ago.
Mountain States moderator Rhoda Blough said the council did the normal credentialing interview process but also approached the conference Leadership Board for additional steps.
In addition to consultations within Mountain States and with representatives of other MC USA conferences, four listening meetings were held last fall across the conference. Each congregation was asked to send its pastor and five representatives to meet with the Ministerial Council and the Mountain States Dialogue Resource Team.
“These were places where people could share,” Blough said. “It was not to be a place for debate; it was for prayer and listening and then eating together.”
She said the conference has worked to be relational and accountable, staying in conversation even when churches don’t agree.
“I think the Ministerial Council has kept this model of accountability in front of them to hear all the voices in our conference,” she said. “We wanted to listen first and foremost to the heart of God of the people who make up Mountain States Mennonite Conference.”
Conference representatives used the same approach for relationships with other parts of MC USA. They sought input from denominational minister Nancy Kauffmann, who relates to Mountain States conference, and other conference ministers at gatherings such as the Constituency Leaders Council.
“We value our denomination, and we want to stay in relational accountability with our denomination,” Blough said.
After the four listening meetings concluded, the Ministerial Council met Nov. 24 for a second interview with Good and accepted her request. The Ministerial Council then met with the Leadership Board Dec. 1. The board unanimously agreed to affirm the Ministerial Council’s recommendation.
“Much of the work centered around the consideration of a person whose gifts and call to ministry are clearly affirmed, yet is in a committed same-sex relationship, which varies from denominational statements,” wrote Mountain States Mennonite Conference in a press release.
“It is the desire of the Leadership Board to function and communicate with a spirit of deep humility, joyfully acknowledging the work of God in our midst, and with a sense of sadness recognizing the pain that this causes some of the sisters and brothers that we love in Mennonite Church USA.”