Mennonite Church Casts Out Gay-Inclusive Flock

The Mennonites are often considered the more relaxed cousins of the Amish, but the denomination draws the line at accepting gay people as, y’know, people.

Delegates with the Eastern District Conference of the Mennonite Church just voted to end the group’s “liaison” with Germantown Mennonite Church, a suburban Pennsylvania church with a sizable number of LGBT congregants.

Though no official reason was given for the separation, it’s believed GMC’s welcoming of gays and lesbians was a significant factor. Pastor Amy Yoder McGloughlin called the split “shocking [and] painful,” according to Newsworks:

“It was especially difficult to sing songs of unity and the love of God, knowing that unity and love did not prevail in the day’s decisions,” said McGloughlin of GMC, that labels itself “inclusive of the diversity of age, education, ethnicity, gender, economic or social class, race, sexual orientation, physical or mental condition, or residence.”

While McGloughlin and her flock are troubled by the decision, she’s not about to cast out gay congregants to stay in the mother church’s good graces. As she says:

We need to be sure that a conference understands that we will baptize and welcome into membership anyone that wishes it, regardless of their sexual orientation. If our position means that we are not part of the conference and, as a result, the Mennonite denomination, then so be it. We are called to welcome all people, and we will continue to do that.

There are more than 1.6 million Mennonites worldwide, but less than 300,000 in the US. Warren Tyson, regional minister for the Eastern District Conference, says the decision to break with GMC may be revisited, but that “the denomination, at this point, still has a position of not endorsing same-sex relationships.”

But hey, at least they have electricity. That’s a start.