About 180 churches leave the denomination in the midst of theological and pastoral debates about same-sex unions.
The biggest Mennonite conference in the USA has officially left the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA).
As 2018 began, the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC) became independent. This means that 180 churches and about 14,000 of the 79’000 church members of the MC USA left the denomination.
The LMC (with 300 years of history) had joined the national denomination in the 1970s.
In the midst of the debate about the definition of marriage, a resolution to affirm same-sex marriages in the MC USA was voted against in 2015. But the denomination also voted to show “grace” to churches and leaders in the denomination who were in favour of “same-sex covenanted unions”. In addition, educational institutions affiliated to MC USA adopted policies to protect faculty in same-sex relationships, according to Christianity Today magazine.
PRIORITISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE
In 2015, theologically conservative Anabaptist churches united to start Evana, a movement that defined itself as “evangelical”. “Biblical authority”, “Anabaptist theology” and “evangelistic energy” are main priorities for the new network now, according to its website.
Evana's 2017 conference attracted more than 450 people, twice as much as the year before. Many Lancaster Mennonite Conference leaders are involved in the network.
“One expression of the new life we are seeing is the wonderful diversity emerging in LMC in that nearly one-third of our membership consists of majority non-white congregations”, moderator of Lancaster Mennonite Conference Keith Weaver told online magazine Mennonite World Review.