Many thanks to those who prayed for us as we gathered March 20-22, 2014 in Kansas for the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC). Many people told us they were praying for us, and we believe there were others who prayed without saying anything and your prayers were deeply felt.
The Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) is not a decision-making body, but a deliberative body that deliberates and can offer perspective to Mennonite Church USA leadership on matters of import. Over the years CLC has strengthened its capacity to talk about difficult issues facing the church in ways that are realistic and respectful. For this CLC meeting, the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board asked us to provide guidance in responding to the Mountain States Mennonite Conference decision to license a woman in a committed same-sex relationship. Such a decision is outside the guidelines of Mennonite Church USA; therefore there are no precedents for responding to such an action.
Each conference can send three people to Constituency Leaders Council (CLC). The three people attending for IN-MI Mennonite Conference were Shannon Dycus (associate pastor at First Mennonite, Indianapolis), Gene Hartman (pastor at Emma Mennonite) and Dan Miller (conference pastor). Dan met with original signers of the Transformation Letter and some signers of the “Rule of Love” letter in the last several weeks. As part of preparing for the discernment process, the three of us talked together about the reality of perspectives in our conference. We also recognized we embody some of that variety.
In our three days together we practiced trusting each other and trusting God. Our counsel was given in the midst of meaningful worship and deep listening. We return with hope that we have choices. The Executive Board will consider counsel from CLC in their June 2014 meeting. Any response requiring delegate action will be brought to convention delegates at Kansas City 2015.
A summary of the meeting is available here. However, summaries do not capture the experience of worshiping and praying and talking with people. We were reminded that there is no substitution for face-to-face conversation and look forward to our Annual Sessions in June, where we can gather together in our shared love for God and what God is doing in our midst.
Please continue to pray for congregational, conference, and denominational leaders as we listen to and lead our constituencies.