This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Lancaster Conference bishops recommend withdrawal from MC USA

The Lancaster Mennonite Conference Board of Bishops has affirmed a resolution recommending the conference withdraw from Mennonite Church USA. The proposal now goes to credentialed leaders for a vote.

Lancaster Mennonite Conference logoIn an Oct. 23 statement to pastors and leaders, conference moderator Keith Weaver indicated the bishops met the required 80 percent affirmation but did not say what the margin was.

Weaver turned down requests for further comments.

“The resolution we considered was essentially the same as the proposal discussed in the Sept. 18 Leadership Assembly,” he wrote. “In our meeting today, the group acknowledged the pain this proposed direction creates in our conference and denomination.

“Many expressed regrets that we are facing this decision.”

A booklet for participants in August and September listening meetings cited a “cultural and theological divide” within MC USA on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ relationships and “deep differences between area conferences” on LGBTQ membership.

The Oct. 23 statement said bishops were distributing ballots to credentialed leaders over the course of seven to 10 days, but it did not say when completed ballots are due back.

Two-thirds affirmation is required. A July 2014 survey found that 46.8 percent of LMC’s credentialed leaders were ready to endorse leaving MC USA, and another 17.6 percent had serious reservations about the denomination.

LMC has previously indicated that a decision is expected in late 2015 or early 2016. If affirmed by the conference’s 412 active credentialed leaders, a two-year implementation would begin, starting with LMC being “non-participating” in MC USA immediately, based on the proposal’s wording at the beginning of October. Congregations could continue to participate in MC USA until the end of 2017.

Lancaster is MC USA’s largest conference, with 13,838 members in 163 congregations.

Tim Huber

Tim Huber is associate editor at Anabaptist World. He worked at Mennonite World Review since 2011. A graduate of Tabor College, Read More

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