Healing and Hope

Healing and hope abound at convention.  It’s a safe place to worship, have fun, and feel the spirit, all in one short week.  During high school and college, I remember the power of 5,000 voices singing in the arenas in Charlotte and Columbus, the joy of the amusement park and recreational areas, and seminars that bring people of the church together in hopes of furthering the kingdom.

Pink Menno furthers the kingdom of Christ and more immediately, the Mennonite Church.  I have seen it provide a safe and welcoming place for those who feel uncomfortable with the tenuous conversation and positions about the place of LGBT individuals within the church.

I met my best friend, who I consider a brother, early in college.  He led a hall of young men as Hall Chaplain at a Mennonite college.  After graduation, he came out to me as gay, and as any friend and sibling would, I responded with love, respect, and support.

Pink Menno provided a loving, caring, and peaceful presence at Pittsburgh, which was especially helpful for the focused seminars with the LGBT topic.  On one special night, the circle discussion began and stories were shared.  My brother ended up in the center chair, and it was his turn to talk.  I was sitting a few rows away, and could see the weight lift off his shoulders as he spoke about everything the church had done.  His mother passed away too soon and his home Mennonite church had provided years of support, and the Mennonite college had given him a great education and spiritual connection.  As he finished sharing, emotions poured out.  I sat there crying quietly as well, but a certain pastor in the front row went up to embrace him as he sat down.  I saw her love, as a Mennonite pastor, the same love of a parent, the same love of Jesus, as the most beautiful example of how the Mennonite church can welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Do we all agree?  No.  Do we know what the church will look like in 10 years?  No.  But we do know:  the peace foundation of the Mennonite church and the belief that all members of the church hold spiritual value.  Pink Menno has helped heal a rift, where certain members’ voices were excluded.  We are on the path of reconciliation, and we move forward to complete healing where you and I welcome and love, as straight or gay, furthering the kingdom of Jesus and promoting the mission of the Mennonite church.

~John Badertscher