Some Lancaster congregations want to stay

Some Lancaster (PA) Mennonite Conference pastors want to stay within the fold of Mennonite Church USA despite a unanimous vote in July by the conference’s bishop board to withdraw, according to Tim Huber writing in the Aug. 17 issue of Mennonite World Review. But that might not be possible due to a bylaw of the denomination which states that a congregation cannot belong to the denomination if its area conference does not belong. While Lancaster Conference bishops have a number of issues with the denomination, the flash point came with the ordination by the Mountain States Conference licensing a Colorado pastor, Theda Good, in a committed same-sex relationship Feb. 2, 2014. Discussions about this and other issues “grew in gravity and seriousness at all levels up until the Assembly in Kansas City, said Stephen Weaver, a bishop representing Lan-Chester, New Danville and Willow Street-Strasburg districts. “These discussions reached a critical point in African-American and Latino congregations.” Bishops were gathering input from regional meetings through Sept. 8, 2015. In 2010 Lancaster Conference included 170 congregations with about 15,000 members. In 2013 there were approximately 14 different language groups throughout the conference. One estimate has suggested that almost two-thirds of the new churches are of non-Germanic ethnicity. Hispanic ethnicity is the largest grouping after Caucasian.

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