The Transformation of Mennonite Writing

A recent event called ‘Mennonites Writing VII’ took place March 12-15 at Fresno Pacific University, California. The conference was attended by 215 people from the U.S. and Canada. In the light of all that is going on presently to ‘transform’ the culture and the church, it came as no surprise to see a similar theme emerging at this Mennonite writer’s conference, as the following excerpt reveals.

Transforming times
The “movement” and perhaps the “transformation” facets of the conference theme manifested in at least two major ways.
One was the attention paid to the place of LGBTQ writers and writing. One concurrent session was devoted to LGBTQ fiction, while self-identified queer writers contributed to other sessions.
Daniel Shank Cruz, a literary critic and English instructor at Utica (N.Y.) College, noted the challenge of “how to integrate Mennonite roots into and with a queer life. The Mennonite self never really goes away, no matter how much you try to flee it.”
He described his life as “[like] mediating between two angry family members — my Mennonite ancestors and my activist queer friends urging me to move forward and leave the old behind. But ‘Mennonite thinking’ is home to me, and I can’t escape it, no matter how hard I try.”
Casey Plett of Winnipeg, Man., read from her collection of short fiction, A Safe Girl to Love.
“I see many parallels between Mennonite literature and queer literature,” she said, “such as the ‘apostate Mennonite character’ and the ‘transplanted queer character,’ who have many similarities.”
Jan Guenther Braun, originally from Osler, Sask., published a novel, Somewhere Else, in 2008.
“Tolstoy said that history is like a herd of cattle, [who] get spooked and you don’t know what spooked them or which cow started it, but suddenly they take off down the field,” she said. “This [LGBTQ fiction] panel might be that herd making or starting history.”

SOURCE: Writing conference goes west for a changed landscape
Apr 13, 2015 by Melanie Zuercher
http://mennoworld.org/2015/04/13/news/writing-conference-goes-west-for-a-changed-landscape/

They may appear to be making history, but the wisest man on this earth once said that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). Unfortunately, these writers seem to prefer their own words to the ones God has written. As this minority group continues to organize, infiltrate the church and change the culture from within, we can only expect to see more of this.

“Homosexuality must be removed from the “sin list” and, according to an MSNBC commentator, traditional marriage proponents must be forced “to do things they don’t want to do.” Sadly, this crusade will be like the Marxist “liberation” movements that promised to “free” people, but really were about control and suppression.”

SOURCE: Dear Churches in America: Prepare to Be Treated Like 1st Century Christians in Rome
http://www.christianpost.com/news/dear-churches-in-america-prepare-to-be-treated-like-1st-century-christians-in-rome-138025/

______

Also see:

Conference connects Mennonite writers east and west
http://news.fresno.edu/04/06/2015/conference-connects-mennonite-writers-east-and-west

*RELATED:

The New Inclusive Mennonites
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/the-new-inclusive-mennonites-2/

*TRENDING IN THE NEWS:

‘We will not obey’: Christian leaders threaten civil disobedience if Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/04/28/will-not-obey-christian-leaders-threaten-civil-disobedience-if-supreme-court/?intcmp=latestnews

Swing Vote Justice Kennedy ‘Not Persuaded’ by LGBT Arguments at Supreme Court Hearing, Ryan Anderson Says
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/swing-vote-justice-kennedy-not-persuaded-by-lgbt-arguments-at-supreme-court-hearing-ryan-anderson-says-138348/

Christian print shop wins discrimination case
http://www.worldmag.com/2015/04/christian_print_shop_wins_discrimination_case

Are religious colleges at risk if Supreme Court approves same-sex marriage?
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/05/07/are-religious-colleges-at-risk-if-supreme-court-approves-same-sex-marriage/

*FOOD (CAKE) FOR THOUGHT:

Hypocrisy
How is liberal hypocrisy is turning Truth into hate speech? Today we’re talking about racism, religious freedom and the cultural Marxism that is today’s political correctness.
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/04/hypocrisy/

NEW:
NIGHT IS FALLING
The real agenda – marginalize Christians
Olive Tree Ministries
http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

Mennonites Walk Barton’s Bridge

Ruth Haley Barton, founder of The Transforming Centre[1], was trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation which teaches: “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality … It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents.” —Tilden Edwards, Shalem Founder[2]

Barton, who could not find peace or direction in her Baptist roots or through reading the Bible and praying, found fulfillment through spiritual direction. Now she incorporates a blend of Eastern and Roman Catholic contemplative spirituality and monastic practices in her retreats and books on practicing the presence of God in the silence and sacred rhythms of prayer. Lately she has been very instrumental in leading entire Protestant and Anabaptist church congregations and their leaders into these same practices through spiritual direction and discernment seminars.

This year, the Mennonites have once again[3] brought in Ruth Haley Barton to help them make decisions in the silence regarding some very important upcoming issues that include LGBTQ and anti-Israel BDS resolutions. How tragic to see an entire church delegation over looking all that is necessary in their discernment process (the Bible), thereby shunning to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) in seeking guidance from an apprentice of Thomas Merton and Tilden Edwards. Surely Menno Simons is rolling over in his grave.

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4

Here are two articles for the remnant to read and pray about…

CLC discerns delegate agenda and offers counsel to Executive Board
Posted on March 30, 2015
NORTH NEWTON, Kan.—“We are here and we’ve been gathered by God, and the truth is gathered, too,” said Chuck Neufeld, conference minister for Illinois Mennonite Conference, during a plenary session at the March 26–28 meeting of Mennonite Church USA’s Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) in North Newton, Kan.
CLC members spent time in prayer and worship; received input from Ruth Haley Barton on tools for discerning God’s will for the church; and offered counsel to the Resolutions Committee and Executive Board (EB) of Mennonite Church USA on churchwide statements to bring before the Delegate Assembly in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.
Neufeld’s reflections, offered after a half hour of silent discernment and prayer, were joined by those of other CLC members who called for mutual forbearance and care across the church in the midst of disagreements on how LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) individuals should be allowed to participate in Mennonite Church USA. Marco Güete, conference minister for Southeast Mennonite Conference, closed the sharing time with observations from his long career in the Mennonite Church, saying, “My reflection to God during this time was, ‘I love your imperfect church. Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of it.’”

More here:
http://mennoniteusa.org/news/clc-discerns-delegate-agenda-and-offers-counsel-to-executive-board/

Discerning spirit
God’s will can be found, even in when we disagree
Apr 13, 2015 by Paul Schrag

The rest of the world makes decisions, but the church discerns. If that were just a choice of words, it wouldn’t be important. But Ruth Haley Barton believes the difference goes much deeper. To discern is to find the will of God.
“Christian leaders have an idea that their decision-making should be somehow different from the rest of the world,” Barton said in a presentation to the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council on March 26 at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. “But sometimes we reduce that to just having a prayer and devotions at the beginning of the meeting.”
Discernment is more than a nod to God.
At a time when MC USA is experiencing conflict over same-sex relationships and church polity, Barton’s message was timely. Though she spoke to leaders dealing with major issues, her ideas apply to every Christian and to all of life.
Barton is a teacher and writer about Christian formation and church leadership at the Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill., who will speak to delegates at the MC USA convention in Kansas City in July.
She defines discernment as “the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God in both the ordinary moments and the larger decisions of our lives.”
Discernment is the habit of noticing where God is at work and how God is speaking. Barton believes it is possible, in any situation, to “have a sense of whether God is at work or the Evil One is at work.” This needs to happen even in the interior world of our own thoughts and motives. 1 John 4:1 advises us to “test the spirits.” Are we willing to test our own spirit?
To do this, we need to listen to God in solitude and silence.
“Many of us are trying to give spiritual leadership without having much of a spiritual life,” Barton said. We must not let our busyness — even our Christian busyness — keep us from being aware of what is going on in our own soul. We need to be quiet and hear the voice of God as distinct from our own voice.
To whom does God give the spiritual gift of discernment? To those who are on a spiritual journey, Barton says. To those who let God transform them into a better version of themselves.

More here:
http://mennoworld.org/2015/04/13/editorial/discerning-spirit/

________

Endnotes:

1] (www.transformingcenter.org)
2] Ruth Haley Barton, Contemplative Prayer, 
and the Spiritual Formation Movement
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/ruthhaleybarton.htm
3] Ruth Haley Barton Trains Mennonites to Discern in The Silence
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/ruth-haley-barton-trains-mennonites-to-discern-in-the-silence/

*** UPDATE JULY 3, 2015

Mennonites delay vote on divesting from Israel for 2 years
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=26609

Unity or Tolerance or Repentance?

Has the Mennonite Church USA chosen unity or tolerance or repentance?

MC USA council endorses unity statement
Among three proposed resolutions on sexuality, leaders state their preference
Mar 30, 2015 by Paul Schrag, Mennonite World Review

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. — Conservative, progressive or a call for unity and tolerance?
That was the question for the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council as its members weighed three proposed resolutions on sexuality and church polity.
They chose the call for unity and tolerance.
Meeting March 26-28 at Bethel College, the CLC endorsed a resolution to extend “grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions.”

More here:

http://mennoworld.org/2015/03/30/news/mc-usa-council-endorses-unity-statement/

The council also discussed several other resolutions, with two-thirds favoring an anti-Israel resolution that calls “Israel’s occupation of Palestine sinful and advocates withdrawing investments from corporations that profit from the occupation and violence in Israel-Palestine.”

Also of interest is this Mennonite Op article:

Opinion: Christ-centered unity is still possible
Jesus wants witnesses to him, not coercers of others

Mar 30, 2015 by John M. Miller
Mennonite Church USA faces the pivotal question of what unites us and what divides. The dominant issue in our time is acceptance of gay and lesbian people in the church.
http://mennoworld.org/2015/03/30/latest-issue/opinion-christ-centered-unity-is-still-possible/

*It might be noteworthy that the MCUSA appears to be following in the footsteps of the Presbyterian Church USA:

Apostate Presbyterians Vote to Allow Homosexual ‘Marriages’ by 3-1 Ratio
http://christiannews.net/2014/06/19/apostate-presbyterians-vote-to-allow-homosexual-marriages-by-3-1-ratio/

THE ROLE OF ANTISEMITISM IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA)’S DECISION TO SUPPORT
http://www.bdsinthepews.org/role-of-antisemitism-in-the-presbyterian-vote-for-divestment.html

__________

Related:

Are religious colleges at risk if Supreme Court approves same-sex marriage?
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/05/07/are-religious-colleges-at-risk-if-supreme-court-approves-same-sex-marriage/

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ADVOCATES
by BEN SHAPIRO March 30, 2015
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/30/whats-next-for-the-same-sex-marriage-advocates/

Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage
by Denny Burk January 16, 2015
http://www.dennyburk.com/inside-the-evangelical-fight-over-gay-marriage/

The New Inclusive Mennonites
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/the-new-inclusive-mennonites-2/

Saskatoon Gay Couple 1st to be Married in Mennonite Church
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/saskatoon-gay-couple-1st-to-be-married-in-mennonite-church/

______

This is the way it’s going. . .

*NEW: Note: Tony Campolo’s pathway of choice had led him to accept homosexuality in the church:
Tony Campolo Comes Out of Closet in Support of ‘Full Acceptance’ of Homosexuality in Church
http://www.submergingchurch.com/2015/06/10/tony-campolo-comes-out-of-closet-in-support-of-full-acceptance-of-homosexuality-in-church/

NEW: NIGHT IS FALLING
The real agenda – marginalize Christians
Olive Tree Ministries
http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

NEW: EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH (ELCA) ORDAINS TRANS PASTOR
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/07/evangelical-lutheran-church-elca-ordains-trans-pastor/

NEW: Two Mennonite Colleges Announce Hiring Policy Change to Employ ‘Married’ Homosexuals
http://christiannews.net/2015/07/22/two-mennonite-colleges-announce-hiring-policy-change-to-employ-married-homosexuals/

NEW:

A Public Service Announcement Regarding Goshen and EMU.
https://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/a-public-service-announcement-regarding-goshen-and-emu/#more-5371

From buttons to bonnets to LGBTQ

Menno Simons rolls over in his grave and gasps, “How did we get here?”

“Since the first Mennonites arrived in America from Germany in 1683, the denomination has gone through many schisms, often over issues of tradition and modernity. At one time, it was buttons vs. eyehooks on blouses, and whether women should have to wear bonnets; more recently, it’s been women’s leadership in the church and acceptance of those who identify as LGBTQ. Each time a split happens, a new version of the faith is created, while an older version is preserved as if in amber—even now, many people associate Mennonites with anachronisms like horses and buggies, when in reality, this kind of traditional lifestyle is only followed by roughly 13,000 American adults, called Old-Order Mennonites. (People often confuse Mennonites with the Amish, too; although both groups are part of the Anabaptist tradition, meaning that they baptize believers as adults rather than infants, Mennonites were historically followers of Menno Simons, a 16th-century preacher.)
Now, Mennonites are wrestling with the same questions faced by other churches across the country, made all the more complicated by their heritage: How should the faithful balance tradition and modern life? How should scripture inform people’s understandings of same-sex relationships? And when members of a denomination disagree, how should they find their way forward?”

SOURCE (for research purposes):
Gay and Mennonite
They vote on everything. They’re committed to peace. Can a church that defines itself by harmony survive dissonance over homosexuality?
Emma Green
MARCH 18, 2015
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/gay-and-mennonite/388060/

RELATED:

The New Inclusive Mennonites
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/the-new-inclusive-mennonites-2/

Is Positive Biblical?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/is-positive-biblical-2/

NEW:

Is there an agenda behind this trend? See:

NIGHT IS FALLING
The real agenda – marginalize Christians
Olive Tree Ministries
http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

The New Inclusive Mennonites

Why has the same sex conversation come to the forefront in so many Mennonite churches? Is there an organized force at work? Will your church and college soon be joining the new inclusive Mennonites? The following information may be a surprise for many Bible believing Mennonites. Please read carefully and prayerfully.

The Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests, Minneapolis, MN (www.bmclgbt.org/index.shtml) are Brethren and Mennonites who say they “do not subscribe to formal creeds or doctrines developed by a church hierarchy: our only written authority is the Bible. Interpretation is done by the body of believers themselves. However, through an emphasis on strict application of the Scripture our churches have developed guidelines of faith and witness which often distinguish us from other Christian denominations.” These differences allow them to encourage like minded people to join their BMCList, a ‘Lesbigay MennoLink’, and consider sending them the following…

• Tell us what Lesbigay Anabaptists are thinking and doing in your hometown. (We promise not to call it gossip.)
• Send everyone an action alert. Get everyone moving and shaking.
• Tell us how we can help you.
• Send everyone current events stuff about religion and sexual orientation.

One project of BMCLGBT has been the formation of Kaleidoscope, a network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied people on peace church campuses. Part of their purpose, or agenda, is to:

• Increase the visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender alumni, faculty, staff and students.
• Improve the lgbt student experience by connecting with alumni and creating professional and social network opportunities.
• Communicate events of interest to the lgbta community.
• Provide opportunities to share information and resources to encourage advocacy on behalf of lgbt alumni and students.
• Increase support of lgbt interests on campus, support the activities of lgbt and lgbta campus groups, and help effect positive change in campus policy and programming.

Members of Kaleidoscope are encouraged to “join the group from your college, university, or seminary and to start making engaging connections” using the following list of college and seminary links provided to get to their sites:

• Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
• Bethany Theological Seminary
• Bethel College
• Bluffton College
• Bridgewater College
• Canadian Mennonite University
• Conrad Grebel University College
• Eastern Mennonite Seminary
• Eastern Mennonite University
• Elizabethtown College
• Goshen College
• Hesston College
• Juniata College
• Manchester College
• McPherson College
• University of La Verne

This coming May, the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests is offering a safe space for families with lgbtq members and for individuals who identify as lgbtq:

Connecting Families East Retreat
May 15-17, 2015
Laurelville Mennonite Church Center
Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania
Communicating a Theology of Holy Inclusion
Connecting Families East welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and their families and allies. Connecting Families weekend is intended to be a safe, relaxing time to share our common thoughts regarding sexual minority issues as they affect our families, our friends, our churches, and ourselves.
We are a group of people, each on our own journey. Through listening and sharing our stories, we seek to provide support for families whose children are coming out to them and/or to their church. We are committed to maintaining confidentiality within the group, to providing a place to speak in safety or to remain silent, and to sharing in a non-judgmental atmosphere. As a group, we work to find ways to educate and engage our churches in dialogue and to help them understand and accept our families.
Loren L Johns will share his journey toward affirming LGBTQ persons in the church and offer assistance in reading the Bible with people who have varying perspectives on inclusivity. He is Professor of New Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana and author of “Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics.” Loren is passionate about teaching and studying the Bible. Prior to joining the Seminary in 2000, he was a pastor, theology book editor and college Bible professor.

A panel of LGBTQ persons will discuss their vision for a more affirming and inclusive church. Panel members include Theo Baer, Michelle Burkholder, Dwayne Hess, and Kelli Holsopple.

Matthew Hunsburger will coordinate times of singing together. He serves as Seminary Music Coordinator, assisting with chapel and other worship services at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, and assists in directing EMU’s Chamber Singers.

(www.bmclgbt.org/ConnectingFamiliesEastRetreatMay15-222015.shtml)

Another Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests project underway to ‘help churches become more inclusive’ is a series of training events:

Welcoming Church Trainings – Building an Inclusive Church
A Training Resource for Congregations Affiliated with:
• Alliance of Baptists
• American Baptist Convention
• Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
• Church of the Brethren
• Community of Christ
• Mennonite Church USA
• Mennonite Church Canada

The link provided to this year’s training events brings you to The National LGBTQ Task Force, Institute for Welcoming Resources. The events are called:

Faith-Based Community Organizing
What if our welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people sparked a renewal of our entire community’s faith life
(www.welcomingresources.org/communityorg.htm)

Related:

Gay advocacy group gets $150,000 grant
http://mennoworld.org/2015/03/02/news/gay-advocacy-group-gets-150000-grant/

____________

The above information has been provided merely to inform, bring awareness to, and spark concern in the hearts of those who love the Lord Jesus, believe His Word is true, and are called to pray in these perilous times for this generation.

As the church slides. . .

*NEW: Note: Tony Campolo’s pathway of choice had led him to accept homosexuality in the church:
Tony Campolo Comes Out of Closet in Support of ‘Full Acceptance’ of Homosexuality in Church
http://www.submergingchurch.com/2015/06/10/tony-campolo-comes-out-of-closet-in-support-of-full-acceptance-of-homosexuality-in-church/

Also related in the world. . .

*A SNEAKY LITTLE LETTER SHOWS HOW THE LGBTQ IS MINISTERING TO KIDS
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/06/a-sneaky-little-letter-shows-how-the-lgbtq-is-ministering-to-kids/

*AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE OFFICIALLY GAY
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/06/american-public-schools-are-officially-gay/

*“SUPREME COURT” VOTES FOR WRATH OF GOD UPON AMERICA
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/06/supreme-court-votes-for-wrath-of-god-upon-america/

*NIGHT IS FALLING
The real agenda – marginalize Christians
Olive Tree Ministries
http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

***NEW: Also see:

A Public Service Announcement Regarding Goshen and EMU.
https://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/a-public-service-announcement-regarding-goshen-and-emu/#more-5371

Is Positive Biblical?

A positive space to speak out
Churches hear stories of gender and sexual diversity

Story and Photos by Rachel Bergen
Special to Canadian Mennonite
SASKATOON, SASK.

It was a “magical” and “spirit-filled” Jan. 24 evening for many who attended a Wildwood Mennonite Church event, held to provide a positive space for members of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender/queer (LGBTQ) community, family and friends to tell their stories and be vulnerable with each other. Some people felt safe to share publicly, even those who have had no connection to a church in many years.
Krista Loewen, a pastor of Wildwood Mennonite Church, was one of the organizers of the event. “There are so many misunderstandings and assumptions about people that are prevalent during discussions on sexuality,” she said. “We wanted to create a space for people to actually learn what it is like to be a part of this marginalized community.”

More here:

http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/positive-space-speak-out

Related:

ROB BELL: WE’RE MOMENTS AWAY FROM THE CHURCH EMBRACING GAY MARRIAGE
http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/02/rob-bell-moments-away-church-embracing-gay-marriage/

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/saskatoon-gay-couple-1st-to-be-married-in-mennonite-church/

Year in review: Sexuality issues test unity
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-review-sexuality-issues-test-unity/

Where will the Same-Sex Conversation Lead?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/where-will-the-same-sex-conversation-lead/

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church
Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married on New Year’s Eve
By Rachel Bergen, CBC News, Jan 05, 2015

New Year’s Eve is a special time for many, and for Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens, it was especially meaningful.
The Saskatoon couple was married on Dec. 31 in Osler, Sask., in the presence of family, friends and the church community.
The men’s wedding marks a point in history for the Mennonite denomination in Canada. Friesen and Wiens are the first same-sex couple publicly married in a Canadian Mennonite church. . .

More here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saskatoon-gay-couple-1st-to-be-married-in-mennonite-church-1.2888826?cmp=fbtl

RELATED:

Survey reveals divides on inclusion, organization
A new survey reports credentialed leaders in Mennonite Church USA have diverse views about membership and leadership roles for gay and lesbian people and about how the denomination might organize itself differently.
http://mennoworld.org/2015/01/05/survey-of-credentialed-leaders-released/

Year in review: Sexuality issues test unity
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-review-sexuality-issues-test-unity/