Mennonite Church USA acknowledges ‘harm’ of LGBTQ+ members, revokes ban on same-sex marriage

Members of the LGBTQ-inclusive Portland Mennonite Church with a Pride flag

The Mennonite Church USA has passed a resolution acknowledging the harm it has done to LGBTQ+ folk, and removed a ban on same-sex marriage.

The denomination is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States, with 530 congregations and more than 60,000 members.

On the first day of Pride month (1 June), the Mennonite Church USA announced that its delegates at the Special Session of the Delegate Assembly last month had narrowly passed “a resolution for repentance and transformation”. 

The resolution acknowledged that the church’s current policies “do violence to LGBTQIA people by failing to affirm their full, God-given identities and by restricting their full participation in the life, ministries and rituals of the broader church”.

The primary policy that does that, it said, is its 2001 membership guideline which bans pastors from “performing a same-sex covenant ceremony”.

“The rejection of LGBTQIA people by MC USA has silenced and denied ministry callings, torn apart families, forced parents to choose between their church and their child, and caused many LGBTQIA people to leave the church,” the resolution reads.

“In some cases, rejection by their faith community is a factor in LGBTQIA people self-harming or even dying by suicide.

“The 2001 Membership Guidelines… are the basis for many of these wounds, and also for harm done to the ministry and witness of our denomination and congregations.

“The guidelines were not created for the benefit of LGBTQIA people. The guidelines’ purpose was to facilitate denominational integration, and, in the process, the church willingly offered up LGBTQIA people, their families, their congregations, and pastors as scapegoats for the sake of a false peace and unity.”

The resolution was written by the group Inclusive Mennonite Pastors, which campaigns for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church, and it allows congregations to decide for themselves whether they will perform same-sex marriages.

It also does not alter the 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, which defines marriage as “between one man and one woman for life”.

However, it does commit to embodying “a theology that honors LGBTQIA people and relationships with all future MC USA theological statements, including but not limited to future revisions of The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective”.