Reflections from Constituency Leadership Council
April 14, 2021
“The recent Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) meeting revolved again around how to proceed with the Membership Guidelines. I experienced it as an emotionally intense meeting, over zoom with limited time.
The Executive Board (EB) is proposing retiring the Guidelines. They point out that most of the Guidelines have been incorporated into MCUSA bylaws, with the exception of the mandate that a pastor’s credentials be reviewed if they perform a same-sex wedding. That mandate has been confusing and hard to implement since it is actually conferences that hold pastor’s credentials.
There is wide agreement with the bottom line of the EB proposal. There are intense differences in understanding what that means. MCUSA executive director Glen Guyton observed about our interactions “this is how fear works”. Indeed there are fears all around: fear that the denomination is caving into cultural relativity, fear that harms done to GLBTQ members will continue unacknowledged, fear that some voices are not being heard, fear that the denomination will experience further losses over this decision.
The EB resolution commits to “the difficult work of being church together”, following the suggestion of the guidelines themselves that this work happen “via area conference to conference engagement”. I’m grateful for the CLC as a place where this engagement happens, and hope that acknowledging our fears will be part of the difficult work we continue to do.”- from Brenda Meyer, moderator-elect
“I participated in a CLC gathering in 2018. The primary discussion at that time, as well as during the recent CLC, was around the membership guidelines. I am struck by the careful and considerate attention to hearing the voices of congregations and conferences. Making changes to the descriptions of our identity as MCUSA requires careful listening and it also takes time.
This CLC gathering seemed more relaxed to me, maybe because we were meeting by Zoom. The less anxious atmosphere may also indicate a shift from the pain and division we experienced with the departure of so many congregations a few years ago. This time I heard many more expressions of encouragement and joy from other CLC participants. This, I believe, is a glimpse of a more hopeful future for our conference and our churches. Thank you, IMMC, for the opportunity to participate.”- from Steve Slagel, member of MLT