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Posted by on Oct 10, 2015

“On the Way” with MCUSA- 2015 Kansas City Convention Reflections

“On the Way” with MCUSA- 2015 Kansas City Convention Reflections

Brenda Oelschlager
Eastern District Conference Moderator

One thing I wish for every member of a Mennonite Church in the US is that they would have the opportunity to attend one Mennonite Church USA Convention. The amazing ways that people of faith come together to worship, pray, play, discern, learn and share is an incredible testimony to the vision of God’s people coming together here on earth.

Amidst the vast diversity of opinions, Biblical interpretations, cultural differences and more, there was, indeed, a sense of oneness in the spirit, seeking God’s guidance for our church and its future. The morning worship service set the tone each day as we opened with singing, praises, prayer, and inspirational messages focused on the convention theme: “On the Way.”

The scripture focus was Luke 24 and the story of the two disciples on the road to Damascus, leaving Jerusalem after Christ’s crucifixion.

The disciples were devastated, hopeless and confused with no hope for their future. When a stranger joins them and starts to question them about what has happened and talk about the promise of the scriptures, their eyes are blind to the fact that this stranger is actually the risen Lord. When they finally recognize their Savior, the disciples’ joy and understanding is miraculous and they go forward exclaiming the “Good News.”

Finding Jesus “on the way” and seeing with open eyes the good news of scripture was part of the MCUSA Convention and should be part of every Christian’s daily walk. Actively seeking God’s face in the faces of others, studying the scriptures together in discerning ways, acting on the commands and living the life that Christ modeled are all things that were stressed with the Road to Emmaus theme.

The hard work done by the delegates in the delegate sessions reflected a true willingness of many varied churches and conferences to find common ground amidst vast diversity. The table group discussions were difficult at times, as the resolutions being reviewed addressed tough questions. But love, grace and patience were shown as individuals shared and the overall desire to do what is best for our church was evident throughout the sessions.

Below is a brief outline of the resolutions and the outcomes of the votes. For more details about the delegate sessions, you can go to:

Resolutions included:

  • Faithful Witness Amid Endless War- Affirmed the Mennonite Peace stand and disapproval of many current war strategies such as the use of drones.—Passed   
  • Israeli-Palestinian Resolution– Called for more actions in the peace-making efforts. Resolutions was tabled with a request to more clearly research and define actions in a very complex world situation.—Tabled
  • Forbearance in the Midst of Differences– This resolution acknowledged that there is not currently a consensus on matters related to same-sex covenanted  relationships and calls MCUSA members to offer grace, love and forbearance towards conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters relating to same-sex covenanted unions.–Passed

According  to Charlotte Lehman, one of the resolution presenters from Reba Place, “for some it means a willingness to not disown individuals, congregations or conferences within MCUSA who disagree with us. We are not in the same place. We acknowledge them and bless them as our siblings in Christ.”

  • Membership Guidelines- This resolution upholds the current membership guidelines that were adopted in 2001 regarding membership and same-sex marriages. No changes will be entertained for four years “in order to exercise forbearance on matters that divide us and to focus our attention on the mission vision that unites us.”—Passed
  • Church-wide Statement on Sexual Abuse- Details expectations and consequences for church staff and members.—Passed

 Statement of Support for Israeli and Palestinian Partners in Peacemaking- This resolution was brought from the floor following the tabling of the Israeli-Palestinian Resolution to affirm the work that it currently being done and encourage our partners in both Israel and Palestine.—Passed Unanimously

 Expressions of Lament and Hope- This resolution was brought from the floor in response to the June 17, 2015 shooting of African-American church members in South Carolina—Passed Unanimously

 I encourage all EDC members to look at more information from the convention online, in denominational publications and talk with members who attended the convention to get a sense of the amazingly wonderful things happening within MCUSA.