North Central Conference of Mennonite Church USA will begin a yearlong process of withdrawing its membership from the denomination. A motion was passed by the NCC’s 10 congregations with strong consensus at its annual assembly July 17-19 at Eastern Montana Bible Camp.
Conference minister Fred Kanagy said every delegate affirmed the need for the conference to maintain unity and work together. The NCC has 341 members in churches from Montana to Wisconsin.
“The NCC has come to recognize and identify ways in which MC USA has moved away from what we understand to be traditional, orthodox interpretations of Scripture from an Anabaptist perspective,” he wrote in an email. “ . . . The movement of many in MC USA in thinking, discernment and practice has created a separation, and the trajectory seems to indicate a widening divide, which we feel requires of us that we either change our convictions or change our affiliation.”
The withdrawal process will include discernment about where to affiliate while continuing the conference’s mission and building mutual trust.
“Technically, our action is not as much to withdraw as to identify where we as a conference of churches still stand and where many in MC USA have and are moving,” he said.
Kanagy said the NCC’s concerns were confirmed at the MC USA convention earlier in July, when approval of Membership Guidelines was by a smaller margin than a call for forbearance.
“This continuing dialogue, in our perspective, has not served to draw us together as a denomination but rather served to allow greater diversity to influence and divide,” he said.