This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Split or renewal?

I’m frustrated by the language used in the announcement of a splinter group. Leaders of this movement call for spiritual renewal and mission. This implies that those who do not resonate with them do not long for the same renewal. It is offensive to me to be seen as not seeking spiritual renewal if I believe our churches should be free to set their own polity. The issues dividing us are denominational authority and inclusion of same-sex relationships, not whether to be moved by God’s Spirit. Churches and conferences that have allowed different interpretations of our Confession of Faith have not done so because they have decided obedience, faithfulness and Anabaptist tradition are no long­er important. In fact, just the opposite is true. There are countless examples of congregations, both inclusive and traditional, who embody a spirit of following Jesus. Mennonite Church USA desperately needs diversity of opinion, theological conversation and inclusion of Mennonites of all stripes. I would prefer that those who gathered in Hartville, Ohio, call their movement what it is: separation over theological and polity disagreements, not a movement for spiritual renewal.

Ben Wideman
State College, Pa.

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