Strangers No More statement for Phoenix 2013

This is the statement we are sharing with the delegate assembly of Mennonite Church USA on July 5, 2103 in Phoenix, Arizona.

We come to you as Mennonites who are burdened by our church’s practices of exclusion, silence, and violence towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people. We carry with us not only the faces of lgbt sisters and brothers, but also their hopes and dreams of a church whose language of welcome and justice matches its actual practices.

It is right that as a church we carefully and prayerfully examine the meaning and disparities of race and citizenship as it is practiced in our country and in our church. We seek to understand the ways that our prejudices and privilege have hardened our hearts to the suffering of immigrant people. We repent of the ways that we have contributed to the diminishment of others by our votes, indifference or blatant support of injustice. Lives matter to God, and the cries of the marginalized do not go unnoticed.

In this same spirit, we call upon the Mennonite Church to repent for its harsh and unwelcoming treatment of the sisters and brothers, parents, teachers, leaders, friends and family among us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. As Pink Mennos, we refuse to allow our leaders to pit marginalized groups and people against one another in the name of unity or convenience. We reject the premise that our church is incapable of understanding the insidious connections of oppression and privilege as they are played out on the bodies of immigrants, women, children, people of color, lgbt people and the many who are excluded from full participation in our church and society. We bear witness to the pain and loss that accompanies the violence of rejection, exclusion, silencing, condemnation and complacency. We affirm MLK, Jr.’s jailhouse words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today we bring before you our faces, our yearnings, our bodies, our dreams, our faith, and declare that we refuse to be strangers to one another. As followers of Jesus, we cannot, and will not rest until the Mennonite Church abandons its exclusionary impulses and embraces the width and breadth of God’s welcome, so that all may participate fully and God’s kin-dom is made whole.

Video of statement

Jump to 28:00 to watch Katie read the statement in the convention live stream archive:

12 comments on “Strangers No More statement for Phoenix 2013
  1. Thank you for this wonderfully passionate, prophetic and compassionate statement. I was moved to tears when I heard it read on the live stream. Germantown Mennonite Church appreciates your work and longs for the day when the body will be one.

  2. Cynthia Bjork says:

    This is a very powerful statement and what thee organized church needs to hear.

  3. Paul Shankland says:

    Please include people with disabilities in your list of oppressed and marginalized people. Some in the church still consider disability as relating to sin in some way or something that should be “cured”. Sound familiar?

  4. Deb Brubaker says:

    Your thoughtful and well-written statement is another step forward in the call for justice for the marginalized. I am behind you all the way.

  5. James Stuckey Weber says:

    Paul- I agree. I’d also suggest including mental illnesses.

    • Lisa says:

      Yes,I agree with Paul and James. Those with mental illness are often ignored, or worse, sanctioned in some churches. Those with invisible disabilities as well as visible disabilities deserve a hearty welcome into the church.

  6. Catherine Joy says:

    Thank you, Katie and all who stood up Friday morning at the Menno USA conference in Phoenix. And a special thank you to Moderator, Richard (Dick) Thomas, whose warmth, sensitivity, and compassionate leadership touched my heart and that of so many others in attendance. The acknowledgement of the Pink Mennos (presence and pain) and the long moment of silence followed by a beautiful, heartfelt prayer was so very healing and set an example of Mennonite loving resistance and response that I will not soon forget. The tension in the room was diffused by deep listening and a compassionate response. The delegates were then able to continue their work as the Pink Mennos sat down and listened respectfully. An awesome experience. Thanks to all.

  7. Karl Shelly says:

    Does anyone have a video or a transcript of Dick Thomas’s words, both those said before and after the PM statement was read? As I listened to them, they seemed unrehearsed, heartfelt, and very gracious. It was a powerful moment!

    • EJ says:

      Dick Thomas was my school superintendent. I didn’t agree with everything he did but he’s really a class act. Our school was rather accepting of “the marginalized” we had a few openly gay students who were supported by the administration and That is one thing that I really appreciated about LMH.

      FYI Shalom was how he ended every letter he wrote, so when he said it in prayer I laughed.

  8. Mary Lou Weaver Houser says:

    Edgewalking requires integrity and fortitude.
    Thanks for all who model this for us.

  9. Christine Guth says:

    Thanks for bringing the statement and for the relationship building and persistence that enabled it to be heard on the convention floor. Like Paul Shankland and James Stuckey Weber I also notice the absence of people with disabilities (including mental illness) in the list of groups often marginalized by church practices. I don’t fault you for overlooking it, just invite this recognition going forward.

  10. marjorie musick says:

    as a member of Albuquerque Mennonite church, that is open and affirming, I am proud and give my heartfelt thanks to the pink mennos who continue to hold our morals up for examination.