Letter

Denominational guidelines exist regarding the conduct of pastors.  Those guidelines include consequences for pastors who bless Jesus-followers whose partners are of the same sex.  … But speaking as a pastor, if I am asked to choose between adhering to those guidelines and welcoming and blessing someone, anyone, seeking to follow Jesus, I will welcome and bless.

    — Ron Adams, from his essay “The rule of love” published in the November 1, 2013 issue of The Mennonite

January 24, 2014

Dear sisters and brothers in leadership:

Ron is not alone.

Ron Adams, pastor of Madison Mennonite Church, wrote poignantly about how the church rejected his brother who was born gay. He points out that in its quest for theological purity, the church too often places the rule of law over the rule of love, putting itself at odds with Jesus. In the wake of his brother’s suicide, Ron makes clear which rule he will follow.

Ron speaks for a growing number of Mennonite pastors. Many of us feel called by Christ to welcome and bless LGBTQ people who are seeking to follow Jesus, which sometimes puts us at variance with denominational guidelines. Others of us, while not prepared to personally act against the guidelines, respect the discernment of our colleagues and seek a denomination where we can engage in the ministry to which God calls us without the threat of having credentials denied or removed or congregations sanctioned. We believe this openness embraces the heart of the biblical Good News, and furthers our growth as communities of grace, joy and peace.

We tell you this in part because discussions are now under way in various leadership settings about the future of denominational guidelines and polity. We urge you in your role as leaders to change church policies to make space for the rule of love; to make space for congregations and pastors who welcome and bless LGBTQ Jesus-followers. These Jesus-followers are our sisters and brothers. They are us.

Peace of Christ,

Adam Tice, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Amy Epp, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle WA

Anita Amstutz, pastor at Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Albuquerque NM

Anita Rediger, pastor at Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne IN

Arlen W. Epp, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart IN

Art Smoker, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Mars Hill NC

Barbara Krehbiel Gehring, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan KS

Barry Kreider, pastor at Pilgrims Mennonite Church, Akron PA

Ben Wideman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harleysville PA

Bert Newton, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Pasadena CA

Beth Ranck Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA,  Harleysville PA

Betsy Headrick McCrae, pastor at Glennon Heights Mennonite Church, Lakewood CO

Bob Carlson, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Kansas City KS

Bob Smith, pastor at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City, Iowa City IA

Brenda Hostetler Meyer, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Brenda Sawatzky Paetkau, pastor at Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Brenda Walter, pastor at Fairfield Mennonite Church, Fairfield PA

Brenda J. Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Eugene OR

Brian Bolton, pastor at Shalom Mennonite Congregation, Harrisonburg VA

Bruce Bradshaw, pastor at Mennonite Congregation of Boston, Boston MA

Bryce L Miller, pastor at Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Tucson AZ

Carol Rose, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Chicago IL

Chad Martin, pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Lancaster PA

Charles Shenk, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Columbus OH

Cheri Herrboldt, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Pasadena CA

Chris Nickels, pastor at Spring Mount Mennonite Church, Spring Mount PA

Clare Ann Ruth Heffelbower, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fresno CA

Cynthia Massanari Breeze, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Champaign IL

Cynthia Lapp, pastor at Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Hyattsville MD

Cynthia Neufeld Smith, pastor at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, Topeka KS

Dawn Yoder Harms, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

David Moser, pastor at Southside Fellowship, Elkhart IN

Dayvid Graybill, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver CO

Dennis Schmidt, pastor at Grace Mennonite Church, Pandora OH

Deron B. Bergstresser, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Don Blosser, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Donald R. Steelberg, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Wichita KS

Dorothy Nickel Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Newton KS

Doug Hostetter, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Evanston IL

Duane K. Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton KS

Ed Rempel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Littleton CO

Edgar Metzler, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Edward B. Stoltzfus, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg VA

Eldon Epp, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Ransom KS

Elizabeth G. Nissley, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster PA

Emily North, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg VA

Eric Massanari, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Newton KS

Glenn Balzer, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver CO

Gwen Groff, pastor at Bethany Mennonite Church, Bridgewater Corners VT

Gwen Gustafson-Zook, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Hal L. Shrader, pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church, Glendale AZ

Heidi Regier Kreider, pastor at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton KS

Helen Hopson, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Austin TX

Helen Wells O’Brien, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, St. Paul MN

Jaime Lázaro, pastor at Iglesia El Centro, Colorado Springs CO

James M. Branum, minister of Peace and Justice at Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City OK

James Rissler, pastor at Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship, Atlanta GA

Jane L. Dick, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Frederick CO

Jane Thorley Roeschley, pastor at Mennonite Church of Normal, Normal IL

Janeen Bertsche Johnson, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Janet Elaine Guthrie, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana IL

Jayne Byler, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Sugarcreek OH

Jeni Hiett Umble, pastor at Living Light of Peace, Arvada CO

Jerry Weaver, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Hesston KS

Jill Gerig, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Denver CO

Jim Miller, pastor at Covenant Mennonite Fellowship, Sarasota FL

Joanna Harader, pastor at Peace Mennonite Church, Lawrence KS

Joanne Gallardo, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg VA

Joe Roos, pastor at Pasadena Mennonite Church, Pasadena CA

Joel Miller, pastor at Columbus Mennonite Church, Columbus OH

Joetta Handrich Schlabach, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Minneapolis MN

John A. Esau, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton KS

John M. Stoltzfus, pastor at East Holbrook Mennonite Church, Cheraw CO

Jonathan Beachy, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, San Antonio TX

Jonathan Neufeld, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle WA

Joseph J. Kotva Jr, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart IN

Juel Russell, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Salem OR

John Kampen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Cincinnati OH

Joyce Wyse, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Columbus OH

Karen Cox, pastor at Boulder Mennonite Church, Boulder CO

Karl S. Shelly, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Kathleen Temple, credentials removed by Virginia Mennonite Conference, Harrisonburg VA

Kathrine Rempel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Littleton CO

Katy Heinzel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster PA

Kay Bontrager-Singer, pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Keith Espenshade, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lancaster PA

Keith Graber Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Kelly Carson, pastor at Mennonite Fellowship of Bloomington, Bloomington IN

Kevin Farmwald, pastor at Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Klaudia Smucker, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fleetwood PA

Lee Lever, pastor at Austin Mennonite Church, Austin TX

Lloyd L. Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Lois Harder, pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita KS

Lois Stoltzfus Mast, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen IN

Lora Nafziger, pastor at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen IN

Lorie Hershey, pastor at West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, Philadelphia PA

Mag Richer Smith, pastor at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City, Iowa City IA

Marc Schlegal, pastor at Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship, Boise ID

Margaret Sawatsky, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart IN

Marilyn Miller, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Boulder CO

Marilyn Rudy-Froese, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen IN

Mark Van Steenwyk, pastor at the Mennonite Worker, Minneapolis MN

Mark Weidner, pastor at Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship, Cincinnati OH

Marlene Kropf, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Port Townsend WA

Marty Troyer, pastor at Houston Mennonite Church, Houston TX

Mary Jane Brenneman, credentials removed by Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, Albany OR

Mary Lehman Yoder, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Matt Friesen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Eugene OR

Megan M. Ramer, pastor at Chicago Community Mennonite Church, Chicago IL

Melanie Neufeld, pastor at Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle WA

Melissa S Roth, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Colorado Springs CO

Melvin D. Schmidt, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Hyattsville MD

Mervin Dick, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Frederick CO

Michael B. Crosby, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, Urbana IL

Michael Schaadt, credentials removed by Franconia Conference, Bethlehem PA

Michelle Burkholder, pastor at Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Hyattsville MD

Myron Schrag, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Nina Lanctot, pastor at Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite, Bristol IN

Pamela Dintaman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Tucson AZ

Pat Hostetter Martin, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg VA

Patricia Lázaro, pastor at Iglesia El Centro, Colorado Springs CO

Paul Versluis, pastor at Shalom Community Church, Ann Arbor MI

Phil Mininger, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Paoli IN

Rachel Epp Miller, pastor at San Antonio Mennonite Church, San Antonio TX

Randall Spaulding, credentials removed by Southeast Mennonite Conference, New Haven CT

Regina Shands Stoltzfus, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Richard L. Gehring, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan KS

Richard Liechty, credentials removed by Franconia Mennonite Conference, Hatfield, PA

Robert Kaufman, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Kansas City KS

Robin Walton, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Columbus OH

Roger Neufeld Smith, pastor at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, Topeka KS

Ron Adams, pastor at Madison Mennonite Church, Madison WI

Rose Marie Zook Barber, pastor at Eugene Mennonite Church, Eugene OR

Ruth Harder, pastor at Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City KS

Ruth Penner, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Newton KS

Ryan Ahlgrim, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis IN

Ryan Koch, pastor at Peace Mennonite Church, Dallas TX

Samantha Lioi, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Allentown PA

Sandra Wiens, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Guilford CT

Sarah Klaassen, pastor, Columbia Mennonite Fellowship Group, MO

Sheri Hostetler, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco CA

Stephen Penner, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Reedley CA

Steve Goering, pastor at Sojourn Mennonite Church, Fort Collins CO

Steve Ramer, pastor at Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship, Fort Collins CO

Steve Ratzlaff, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Fresno CA

Suella Gerber, pastor at Fellowship of Hope, Elkhart IN

Susan Gascho-Cooke, pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Lancaster PA

Susan Ortman Goering, pastor at Sojourn Mennonite Church, Fort Collins CO

Sylvia E Shirk, pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship, New York NY

Ted Grimsrud, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Harrisonburg VA

Teresa Dutchersmith, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Theda Good, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver CO

Tim Schrag, pastor at Mennonite Church of Normal, Normal IL

Tim Stair, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Elkhart IN

Tina Schlabach, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Tucson AZ

Tom Harder, pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita KS

Tory Doerksen, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver CO

Trevor Bechtel, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Ann Arbor MI

Vern Rempel, pastor at First Mennonite Church of Denver, Denver CO

Vicki Penner, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Lawrence KS

Wayne A. Nitzsche, pastor at Perkasie Mennonite Church, Perkasie PA

Weldon Nisly, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Seattle WA

Wesley Bergen, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, North Newton KS

Willard Roth, credentialed for ministry in MC USA, Goshen IN

Zachary Gleason, pastor at Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City OK

(organizational listing for identification purposes only)

Responses can be sent to the Inclusive Mennonite Pastors leadership team* at inclusivepastors@gmail.com.

*Chad Martin, Cynthia Lapp, Joanna Harader, Karl Shelly, Megan Ramer, Theda Good