In a Feb. 13, 2023, email to all Pacific District Conference churches, the PDC Executive Board updated the district on the status of Willow Avenue Mennonite Church (WAMC), a congregation in Fresno, California, that welcomes and affirms LGBTQ individuals.
The email reports that acting as the “conference in interim,” the PDC Executive Board on Aug. 23, 2022, voted to terminate the membership of WAMC. WAMC held a service Jan. 8, 2023, in which they were officially received by the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. The email states that WAMC continues to utilize its facility.
The PDC suspended WAMC’s membership in October 2021 for considering a proposal to affirm and welcome LGBTQ people, a proposal that is not consistent with the USMB Confession of Faith articles on marriage and discipleship. The congregation adopted the proposal on Jan. 9, 2022.
“We are grieved over what has transpired leading to the loss of a formerly fully participating church,” says the February letter from the PDC Executive Board. “We also thank you for your patience and support as we deal with this transition and invite your prayers as we work through the process of terminating the membership of a PDC church. Various technical and legal issues continue to arise. Some of these will be easily resolved, while others are ongoing.”
The letter goes on to say, “The PDC Executive Board is committed to faithfully fulfilling its responsibilities to the PDC. These responsibilities are outlined in our USMB Confession of Faith, USMB and PDC bylaws and prior decisions of the PDC at convention. We also want to assure the PDC that decisions beyond the purview of the PDC Executive Board will be deferred until the 2023 PDC convention.”
Connie Faber joined the magazine staff in 1994 and assumed the duties of editor in 2004. She has won awards from the Evangelical Press Association for her writing and editing. Faber is the co-author of Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, one son, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and one grandson. They are members of Ebenfeld MB Church in Hillsboro, Kansas.
I’m interested to know if the PDC / BFL has suggested helpful ways for local churches to process conversations about LGBTQ matters. Sometimes an update like this can make it feel like it is not OK to discuss. Thx.