B.C. pastors use ‘listening circle’ to express their views on what it means to be a ‘faithful church’
A month after a pastors-only meeting, Mennonite Church B.C. congregations are being invited to give their personal views on the national church’s Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution on same-sex marriage at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2016.
More than 40 pastors met at Peace Mennonite in Richmond on Sept. 20 for a time of listening to each other. Peace Mennonite Pastor Winston Pratt supplied a small cross used as a “talking stick” that was passed respectfully from speaker to speaker, in order to give each person an opportunity to briefly share their thoughts on the resolution passed at MC Canada’s Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon in July. This was a time of listening, not back-and-forth discussion.
“People are passionate about this issue,” says Garry Janzen, MC B.C. executive minister who led the meeting. “How can we co-exist? We wanted to find a way to be together. That was the goal.”
MC B.C. leadership acknowledge that congregations differ from each other on this complicated issue, and there is also a lack of unity within individual congregations.
According to Janzen, a variety of opinions emerged as the pastors shared their viewpoints. Some spoke in favour of a traditional understanding of heterosexual marriage only; some were in favour of the BFC7 resolution that acknowledges differences of opinion on committed same-sex relationships and calls for continued discernment.
Some said that having differences of opinion among sister congregations was not a fellowship breaker, and that their congregation could co-exist with others in the church family having another view. Other pastors talked of the possibility of their congregation breaking ties with MC Canada over this issue.