Below are brief summaries of all four resolutions. This website provides links to each of the full resolutions and MCUSA Executive Board impact statements on each resolution.
1) For Justice in the U.S. Criminal Legal System
As a historic peace church, Mennonite Church USA is called to resist “injustice in all forms, and in all places.”1 Many aspects of the current United States’ criminal legal system cause pain and suffering for many, especially poor people and people of color.
We as a church body commit to confronting the injustice within the current U.S. criminal legal system. There are many ways individual congregations, conferences, institutions and agencies of the denomination can participate. We will call on them to report back to the delegate body at the next biennial convention. The following are a starting place to begin this work together:
- Learning about the injustices of the U.S. criminal legal system through conversations, book groups, guest speakers and other means
- Speaking with, and learning from, current and former prisoners, as well as others whom the U.S. criminal legal system has harmed
- Utilizing curricula addressing the injustices of the U.S. criminal legal system, such as those developed by Mennonite Central Committee, MC USA, and Healing Communities USA to guide local churches through discussions about the U.S. criminal legal system and ways to help those hurt by it
- Supporting the families of those who have been incarcerated
- Learning about how our legal system has been shaped by racist assumptions and committing to dismantle racism
- Divesting from all private prisons, as an organization and as individuals within the church Advocating for just treatment of people at all levels of the U.S. criminal legal system by petitioning representatives at every level of government to enact necessary reforms including ending cash bail, enacting policies mandating reductions in police violence, ending mandatory minimum sentencing and others
- Continuing to call for a ban on the death penalty at the state and federal levels
- Working for reform of the criminal legal system to promote accountability and rehabilitation
- Seeking out alternatives to the current legal system through restorative justice practices, creating new systems of justice that reflect God’s love and care for our world
2) Clarification on Mennonite Church USA Polity and the Role of the Membership Guidelines of Mennonite Church USA
Link to the hour long webinar with background on this resolution can be found HERE.
History: The Membership Guidelines were created to help conferences join the new Mennonite Church USA in 1999. Section III was added to respond to concerns about congregations and churches who had previously been disciplined for being inclusive churches joining the new denomination. Because the authority and responsibility to handle these issues now lies firmly at the conference level of polity, not the denominational level of polity, the resolution proposes the retirement of the Membership Guidelines.
“The resolution clarifies authority in MC USA and aligns our practice with our stated polity. The retirement of the Membership Guidelines does not change where authority lies within our system. This organizational resolution does not speak to the merits of LGBTQ inclusion in MC USA nor address concerns about same-sex unions.”
3) Accessibility Resolution
“Faith communities in the U.S. are exempt from secular mandates in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a result, many Mennonite congregations lag behind secular society in making facilities and activities accessible and in integrating those with disabilities into their communities.”
“The purpose of this resolution is to help all members of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA), including congregations, area conferences, agencies and constituency groups recognize and seek to remove the barriers to belonging in architecture, communications and attitudes that prevent individuals with disabilities from participating in church life; and to bring wholeness to the Body of Christ as those barriers are removed, and all people are fully integrated into the community of faith.”
“As members of MC USA, we commit to growing as communities of grace, joy and peace without barriers so that God’s healing and hope flow through all of us to the world regardless of ability.”
Congregations can take action by:
- Assessing their own accessibility through an audit or inventory, and by periodically surveying their congregants to learn of any barriers to full community participation.
- Developing a plan to increase accessibility in some way(s). For example, motorized door openers or wheelchair ramps, assisted listening devices or hearing loops, large print worship materials, Sunday school classes that raise awareness and understanding.
- Calling a disability advocate or advocacy team charged with helping to assess accessibility, identify and remove barriers, share resources on disability, and call forth the gifts of people with disabilities in the congregation.
At all levels of the church, we commit to calling out and employing the leadership gifts of people with disabilities.
4 Resolution for Repentance and Transformation
Please note, these are excerpts below — please read the full resolution for more detail and context. Context: CMCL’s Congregational Council and pastors signed on to this resolution when it was initially submitted to MCUSA ahead of the 2021 delegate assembly.
“Current policies of Mennonite Church USA do violence to LGBTQIA people by failing to affirm their full, God-given identities and by restricting their full participation in the life, ministries and rituals of the broader church. The rejection of LGBTQIA people by MC USA has silenced and denied ministry callings, torn apart families, forced parents to choose between their church and their child, and caused many LGBTQIA people to leave the church. In some cases, rejection by their faith community is a factor in LGBTQIA people self-harming or even dying by suicide.”
“Therefore, be it resolved that, as members of Mennonite Church USA committed to truth-telling, repentance, and transformation in the Way of Jesus:”
We confess to:
- Our denomination’s policies, structures, practices, and theologies have excluded LGBTQIA persons from fully sanctioned participation in the denomination and have caused great harm to LGBTQIA Mennonites and their families.
Please read full resolution for full statement of confession.
We commit to:
- Rescind the Membership Guidelines, Section III.
- Include LGBTQIA people and/or representative allies in the creation of any resource, document, or policy produced or distributed by the denomination that specifically affects LGBTQIA people.
Please read full resolution for full statement of commitment.