Today the delegates for Mennonite Church Canada have voted to create space and leave room for churches that want to fully welcome gay and lesbian persons, including those in committed same-sex relationships. The vote was to do that while at the same time not revising the Mennonite Confession of Faith that, more or less, defines marriage in a traditional way. It’s an interesting path forward. In effect it continues the practice already in place but now gives it the official sanction of the national body. This decision isn’t so much about sexual ethics as it is about a way of being church. In the floor discussions today there was a strong affirmation of the importance of unity, a unity that runs deeper than unanimity. The various churches represented here do not see these issues in the same way but most of us do think it’s possible to remain together in spite of that. The recommendation was affirmed by something like 80% of delegates, far exceeding the 50% plus 1 requirement.
Earlier in the week the same delegate body also passed a resolution, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery. OMC was one of 13 churches that co-sponsored this resolution.
I’m leaving Saskatoon, with its beautiful river and utterly generic conference centre, with a sense of hope. At the core of the Christian faith are claims about God and a related way of life patterned after Jesus. But quite close to that core are beliefs we hold about the necessity of ongoing reformation and periodic repentance. This is how we move through history. I think the assembly here has demonstrated our ability, far from perfect though it is, to ask ourselves critical questions, to repent for past wrongs and to be a church even when we don’t agree. With that way of looking back I am hopeful about our ability to move into the future with courage and creativity.