This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

MC USA members speak out to director

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. — Ervin Stutzman has received hundreds of emails from people across the range of opinion on homosexuality.

“This has been a time of learning for me over the past three months,” the Mennonite Church USA executive director said, speaking to the Constituency Leaders Council at their opening session March 20.

Stutzman said he had received hundreds of letters “calling for greater inclusion of LGBTQ individuals” and many others “pleading for us to be faithful to our traditional stance.”

He also gets letters of concern for unity, asking why this issue must tear the church apart.

“I’m also hearing that there is a significant number of people who say the time for dialogue and discussion is past,” he said.

He said some people tell him, “You have to decide whether you are with those people or whether you are with us.”

This leads him to ask, “Is there any space for me to love people on both ends?”

He said he was “genuinely unsure” how large each group was. He has felt blessed by those who have said they’ve made a commitment to listen to those who hold differing views.

Stutzman called the church’s struggle over homosexuality “a referendum on the Membership Guidelines,” the 2001 document that paved the way for the merger of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church.

He said the passage of time and an “unprecedented” pace of change has led people to no longer feel ownership of documents such as the Membership Guidelines and the 1986 and 1987 denominational statements that call homosexual behavior a sin. He noted that no one who is under 50 today voted on the 1980s sexuality statements.

“People today are saying, those aren’t my guidelines, those are somebody else’s,” he said.

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