I am perplexed by the portrayal of some Ohio Conference congregations’ hesitance in calling women lead pastors (June 18). It seems the label “rural” in describing some congregations is unhelpful. Let me suggest another framing. Now in my 70s, I deeply value the faith formation I experienced growing up on a farm in Ohio, attending a Mennonite high school and a congregation active in Mennonite missions and service. I do not see “rural” Ohio Conference congregations as much different than congregations across Mennonite Church USA, most of which are in towns and small cities. Though I have not lived in Ohio since 1964, I suggest another source for conference tensions, which I think I saw emerging in my teen years. I wonder if framing our discussion around the influence of right-wing “Christian” radio broadcasts and other media might be more fruitful. A review of this history may be useful for addressing our congregational relationships and how we are responding to cultural shifts.
Sheldon Burkhalter, Seattle