Open Letter in Response to the Church of the Brethren Action Regarding GLBT Ordination
Dear Church Leader:
At its 2002 Annual Conference, the Church of the Brethren delegate body voted to deny ordination to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. At the BMC worship service following the passage of this business item, the devastation was evident, particularly among young adults. For many, the delegate action undermined the very integrity of the church and its stated commitment to justice and non-violence.
Although it is not the common practice of BMC to issue position statements, the timing and content of this Annual Conference decision seemed particularly onerous. Attached is a response prepared by the Justice and Community Committee of BMC, the committee which addresses BMC/church relations. If you have any questions or would like to talk about any of the issues raised, we invite you to contact anyone on the committee.
We wish you the courage to be a voice for justice.
The Justice and Community Committee of the BMC Board of Directors
Response to the Church of the Brethren 2002 Annual Conference Action:
As an organization that affirms and celebrates the dignity and worth of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, the Brethren Mennonite Council Justice and Community Committee was not surprised yet still deeply disappointed by the recent Annual Conference decision to blatantly bar gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals from the ordained ministry. At a time in our national history when we are painfully aware of the violence and harm that human misunderstanding, ignorance and fear can create, the Annual Conference decision only exacerbates these hurtful trends towards brokenness.
The decision to target a particular group for discriminatory reasons is disturbing in a denomination that has experienced the moral destructiveness of persecution. Those who value the integrity of the query process and its democratic rootedness should be troubled by the spirit and process by which the query reached the Annual Conference floor.
Most importantly, the loss of gifted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, as well as those who cannot in good conscience minister within a denomination that supports such discriminatory practices, diminishes the overall life and spiritual depth of the church. Indeed, the denomination’s credibility as it speaks about welcome and a respect for human diversity has become severely compromised.
BMC and its constituents will continue our work of advocacy and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. We rejoice in the prophetic voice being raised by many courageous individuals, congregations and districts, and trust that justice will one day prevail. Toward that end, we invite you to join us as we envision and live into a more humane and welcoming church.