Ordering your copies of the booklets..
By another road, God’s love sets people free.
Another road calls us to be holy.
Another road offering liberty.
God calls us by another road.
- words from Advent 2000 worship resource (used by permission)*
We confess our fear and repent of our rejection of those of us with a different sexual orientation and of our lack of compassion for their struggle to find a place in society and in the church. We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings relating to sexuality. We covenant with each other to mutually bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other in the body of Christ, recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and that the Holy Spirit may lead us to further truth and repentance. We covenant compassion and prayer for each other that distrustful, broken and sinful relationships may experience God’s healing. We covenant with each other to take part in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other. Finally, we covenant with God that as we discern his will for our lives and our fellowship we will seek to obey it, through his grace and strength.
- Adopted by the General Conference Mennonite Church, 1986; henceforth known as the Saskatoon Statement
July 8, 1987, the Mennonite Church General Assembly adopted a nearly identical statement; henceforth known as the Purdue Statement.
This “Welcome to Dialogue” series of booklets is a further call to the Mennonite Church to walk with us in conversation and discernment as we seek to heed God’s call to walk another road.
In 1998 Titus Bender (see #1 in this series) and John Stoner (see #4 in series) shared their vision of ways to issue this call with a group of twenty-five who met informally. From this group five people (Titus Bender, Douglas Brunk, Lois Kenagy, Ruth Conrad Liechty, and John Stoner) formed the Welcome Committee. This committee accepted the mandate of the group to find ways to open the dialogue called for in the Purdue and Saskatchewan statements. Since that time the committee has expanded to include Willis (Bill) Breckbill, Rebecca Fast, and Victor Fast. Other members of the original group, plus additional persons (including some who are among the sexual minorities), continue to serve as advisors to the committee. One aspect of the committee’s work was “A Welcoming Open Letter on ‘Homosexuality’” that appeared as a paid ad in the Mennonite Weekly Review, February 17, 2000.
Why is the group concerned about dialogue with the larger church? Because we (members of the group) have close friends and/or family members who are among the sexual minority; their faith is clear to us. Many of them are living in committed relationships. As members of the Mennonite Church we are aware that our church’s official position recognizes God’s blessing only upon heterosexual couples. Thus, in essence the official position seeks to deny or destroy all other committed relationships. We are aware of the emotional pain caused by such pressure. The pain intensifies because the pressure comes from the same church that teaches us fidelity and calls us to another road of love and holiness.
By giving witness to what we observe and believe, we do not imply that those with different understandings are less serious or less faithful in their study of scripture and their journey of faith. We do, however, ask that we, too, be recognized as members of the Mennonite community on the journey of faith who are seeking to be faithful to scripture and the guidance of God’s Spirit. We pray that you will hear our testimonies and reflect on the words of these booklets for what they are our witness growing out of our journey with God, our study of scripture, history, and psychology, and our pilgrimage with co-travelers (or with Christian sisters and brothers?) of faith.
-Ruth Conrad Liechty, series editor
…our ridiculously fallible language becomes a lesson in how God’s grace works despite and even through our human frailty. We will never get the words exactly right. There will always be room for imperfection, for struggle, growth, and change. And this is as it should be.
-Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace