How can we be faithful to Christ as we address our differences? How might we grow in the fruit of the Spirit while we passionately disagree? As we enter into 2015, the Unity & Variance Task Group continues to be guided by these two questions.
In the midst of conflict, the questions compel us to hold together our love of God and our love for each other. Our call as Christ’s witnesses does not stop with our deep convictions about any particular issue. Rather, it also impacts how we hold those convictions and how we disagree.
Over the next few months, you will have an opportunity to join us as we seek answers to our two guiding questions. First, we ask for you to complete a survey that will be distributed by email to conference pastors and delegates on Wednesday, January 21, 2014. The survey is open to all members of conference congregations, and we ask for your help in distributing it widely. While a survey cannot replace face to face conversations, we believe that it will be a helpful tool for further discernment. We ask all responses to be submitted by Sunday, February 21 so that we can compile and report them during the regional delegate meetings in March.
Second, you are invited to attend “Faithfulness Under the Cross: Unity, Division & the Church,” an event that will be hosted by East Goshen Mennonite Church on February 8, 2015 (3:00 p.m.). We’ve asked Mary Lehman Yoder (Assembly MC), John Troyer (Clinton Frame MC), and John D. Roth (Berkey Avenue MC) to speak about their forward-looking visions for the church and how that vision guides their understandings of unity and mutual accountability. This event is open to all who wish to attend, though we plan to make a video recording available for those who cannot.
Finally, we look forward to sharing more with you at the regional delegates sessions on March 14 and March 21 about what we have learned thus far and the ways that we will continue our discernment.
We recognize the anxiety and uncertainty that is present in our congregations, conference and denomination. As we address our differences, may we live lives that are worthy of the calling that we have received. May we be completely humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love. May we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. For in Christ, all things hold together. (Ephesians 4:1-3, Colossians 1:17)
–Mark Schloneger, Unity & Variance Task Group