Introduction

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As Lin Garber noted in Historical Perspectives, booklet #2 in this series, church membership for Anabaptists/Mennonites is voluntary and ?entails a commitment to certain standards of practice agreed upon by the entire church community.? This explains, at least in part, why the issue of membership is deemed so crucial in the Mennonite Church. In this booklet three writers share their perspectives on this vital subject.

Kathleen Kern finds herself on the cusp as she struggles with what it means for her to be faithful to scripture and follow Jesus. Her struggle is increased because she shares friendship with people who are among the sexual minorities and who also seek to be faithful to scripture and follow Jesus; yet her church?the Mennonite Church?condemns them. Moreover several conferences within the church discipline congregations that seek to accept and minister to them as sisters and brothers in Christ.

Dorothy Yoder Nyce poses the question: Does the Mennonite understanding of authority include ?bread? or grace enough for all believers? She approaches the question from four aspects: scripture, tradition, knowledge, and experience. She notes that the Reformation slogan sola scriptura tempts some to give to scripture that which is to be given only to God. How does God want us to view the written word?

John K. Stoner, long active in peace concerns in the Mennonite Church, looks at the issue of church membership through the overarching biblical and creation themes of an expanding circle of salvation, concepts of sin, pursuit of justice, love of all persons, and scientific evidence. John believes that the church’s response to sexual minorities should be decisively shaped by these central themes.

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