The executive committee of the Executive Board has responded to same-sex covenanting ceremonies performed by pastors in Illinois and Kansas in the past year. In a letter on June 14, the committee made clear that such ceremonies are not congruent with Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.
“The board owns the understanding of our confession of faith that sexual union is to happen between one man and one woman who are committed to each other for life in holy marriage,” the letter said. “The board has no plans to suggest that the church should change its current understanding and commitments.”
The letter also said that the Executive Board cannot intervene in decisions area conferences are making in response to pastors performing same-sex covenanting ceremonies.
“The national church does not have the authority to control the discussion or decisions at [congregation and area conference] levels,” the letter said. “Congregations decide on their members and conferences decide on member congregations. Ministerial credentials are held at the conference level and thus minister’s accountability is to the area conference rather than the national conference. We are aware that our polity creates some differences in the practice of church discipline from conference to conference.”
In 2011, Western District Conference pastor Joanna Harader performed a same-sex covenanting ceremony. Since Illinois made same-sex unions legal on July 1, 2011, Central District pastor Megan Ramer has performed three such ceremonies.
The Executive Board’s executive committee includes: Dick Thomas, moderator; Elizabeth Soto, moderator-elect; Addie Banks; David Boshart; Patricia Shelly; and Ervin Stutzman, executive director. Click here to read the June 13 letter.