Shannon Dycus, Gene Hartman and Dan Miller represented Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference when the Constituency Leaders Council of MCUSA met March 26-28 in Wichita Kansas. The theme verse for the meeting was Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. The overarching theme for the meeting was discernment. Worship was woven throughout our time together. After getting acquainted or reacquainted around tables the following discussions and reporting took place.
- Thursday forenoon and afternoon sessions were led by Ruth Haley Barton author of the book “Pursuing God’s Will Together” as well as other books about group discernment. Her presentations included steps of preparation for discernment (clarify the question), putting ourselves in a position to be led (prayer), discerning God’s will together (listening to God and each other), and doing the will of God (communicating and planning). The CLC found the presentation to be helpful and informative but it felt rushed due to time constraints.
- Thursday evening was time for three different groups within the CLC to meet. The Conference Ministers met together, Conference Moderators (including moderator-elects) met together and the rest of the CLC met together as well. The conversations centered on the question: How does your conference understand its willingness to take counsel and be accountable to the whole?
- The first session Friday forenoon included Ervin Stutzman highlighting and further commenting on his Executive Director’s Report to the CLC. Ervin’s report is always interesting and insightful as it relates to MC USA as a body. This time also included updates from the Executive Board (EB) and time for discussion as it related to both Ervin’s report and the EB updates.
- The second session Friday forenoon included work on further discernment about LGBTQ inclusion and MC USA polity questions. As usual the discussion around this topic was warmly engaging while at the same time respectful of the varying stances.
- The first session Friday afternoon included several reports…
- Andre Gingerich Stoner reported on some of the work that Christian Churches Together (CCT) has been doing. MC USA is a member of CCT. This report included updates on how the immigrant churches are changing the face of America, and a statement in response to Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
- Iris de Leon Hartshorn announced scholarships available for Intercultural Development Inventory training.
- There was also a time for reflections on the racial tensions arising from the recent police actions in predominately African American communities.
- The second session Friday afternoon was spent discussing and providing recommendations to the EB concerning several resolutions being considered for the Kansas City Convention. Four resolutions were recommended to the EB by the CLC. While more work needs to be done by the Resolutions Committee (RC) concerning these resolutions, the topics addressed were as follows…
- The denominations response to LGBTQ credentialing and performance of same sex covenants.
- A response to the seemingly unending war we are involved in as a nation.
- A response to the ongoing Israel/Palestine situation.
- A church-wide statement on sexual abuse.
- The first session Saturday forenoon included continuing discussion on the proposed resolutions and hearing reports from the following…
- The #WeAreMenno campaign and the new website.
- The Listening Committee.
- The Gifts Discernment Committee.
- The final session of our CLC gathering started with an open mic time. Our meeting closed with a time of worship, communion, and blessing.
The CLC gatherings include people with differing positions and views but I find that the conversations are conducted in a way that shows love and respect for each other. It was evident during our meeting that all members of the CLC love the church and the Lord Jesus Christ.
~ Gene Hartman – CLC Rep.