Leaders within Illinois Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA released a statement encouraging forbearance concerning ministerial credentialing at the conference’s March 6 annual assembly, a year after the conference passed a resolution committing to a year of study while neither removing nor conferring credentials to pastors in same-sex marriages.
Delegates heard a presentation from former Goshen College peace, justice and reconciliation professor Joe Liechty on navigating polarized issues. Liechty held introductory sessions in November and December with pastors. In May he led virtual sessions on political talk and sexuality, open to anyone in the conference.
The statement from Illinois Conference’s ministerial leadership and church life teams calls for respecting each other as the standard for mutual forbearance. Materials from the Colossian Forum, which seeks to transform cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth, are the first step, to be followed by intercongregational discussion.
“Like the rest of the Christian world, individuals and churches in IMC will not all agree on the faithfulness of gay relationships,” the teams stated. “Our challenge is to agree on ways to demonstrate forbearance toward each other as we work together to extend God’s kingdom.”