Franconia Conference leaders meet with initiators of Open Letter

Stephen Kriss

img_7370.jpgFranconia Mennonite Conference leaders recently met with young leaders who crafted and signed the Open Letter to Franconia Conference, which calls for a more inclusive Franconia Conference.

Before making the letter available on the Internet, a group of these young leaders requested a meeting with Noel Santiago, Franconia Conference executive minister. The letter is now posted online and continues to garner signatures from those who support the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons in the life and leadership of Mennonite congregations.

Franconia Conference staff Ertell Whigham, Jessica Walter and Randy Heacock, assistant conference moderator and pastor at Doylestown (Pa.) Mennonite Church joined Santiago in the conversation with young leaders–Amanda Yoder of the Blooming Glen congregation, Christian Allebach from Souderton church and Maddie Ruth, Emma Ruth and Justin Yoder all from the Salford congregation.

According to Santiago, “The conversation together between these young persons and conference leaders was cordial, healthy and informative. I believe we were able to hear and understand what these young persons wanted to communicate and commend them for the approach and grace in which they communicated it. While it is evidently clear that we’re at very different places of understanding and practice, nonetheless, this gathering was one expression of the resolution on following Christ and growing together even as communities in conflict.”

The resolution was one of three passed at the Mennonite Church USA denominational assembly in Columbus, OH, in July. Across the church, youth and young adults have been mobilized toward action and engagement out of the conversations in Ohio, particularly around issues of human sexuality.

Franconia Conference continues in dialogue with Alpha (NJ) Mennonite Church toward discernment of future relationship and postures together after the congregation’s move toward openness to members and leaders regardless of sexual orientation. Details on that process will be released in the near future.


2 thoughts on “Franconia Conference leaders meet with initiators of Open Letter

  1. Thanks to the Conference leaders for promptly responding. Thanks to the youth who are willing to “discuss” their concerns.
    I support the decision to stand behind the Mennonite Conference Assembly’s statement.
    These are difficult issues, and I certainly do not have all the answers, but find myself on the more traditional end of the spectrum. However, I want to show love and respect to persons who differ with me.
    May the grace of God be experienced by us all.

  2. Thanks to conference leaders for this transparent account of your meeting with the open letter writers. It is impressive that Franconia Conference is dealing upfront with the resolution passed at Columbus, rather than trying to forget it. Thank you!

    Also, thanks, Dave, for your comments here. You were my pastor from birth, my friend through many growing years, and now a graceful brother as we face a difference of understanding. I really appreciate you!

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