by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
The Discernment Task Force of Western District Conference (WDC) is delighted with the strong participation in the twenty-statement online survey regarding human sexuality, polity, Membership Guidelines, Confession of Faith, and Scripture. There were 1,700 surveys returned, with 700 of those coming in during the last week in August. Comments from participants generated 500 pages of personal perspectives to sort through and categorize. The Task Force met on September 2 in a first round of processing 1,000 surveys. They will meet on October 11 to process the next 700 surveys and to plan for the Western District Conference Reference Council on November 15.
The WDC Executive Board appointed the Discernment Task Force to guide a year-long conversation across Western District Conference in response to a resolution brought by Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, in 2014. The resolution asks WDC to allow pastors and congregations “to officiate or refuse to officiate ceremonies that consecrate before God monogamous, life-long unions, regardless of the sexual orientation of those being united.” See https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/annual-assembly/#2014 for the full text of the resolution and its introduction at Assembly 2014 in Waxahachie.
Jim Schrag, Task Force chair reflected, “As our discernment moves forward, the first question appears to be, not whether WDC will maintain a basic polity of congregationalism, but rather what kind of congregationalism will it be? What kind of covenants do WDC congregations need with each other? What can congregations decide on their own?”
The WDC Reference Council meeting at Eden Mennonite Church on November 15 will focus on these questions after receiving a full report of responses to the survey. In addition to members of WDC commissions, committees, task forces and pastors, congregations are encouraged to send representatives who will serve as delegates to WDC Assembly 2015 and to Mennonite Church USA’s biennual conference, Kansas City 2015.
Register for Reference Council at mennowdc.org/calendar/. All are welcome.