May 5, 20011

Terry Shue, Director of Leadership Development, Denominational Minister, Mennonite Church USA

Ervin Stutzman, Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA

Dear Terry and Ervin,

Peace to you. Thank you for your love for Mennonite Church USA and your willingness to serve our denomination.

I imagine that your job is often quite difficult. You probably don’t hear much from random people within MCUSA unless there is some problem to address or fire to put out.

And so, it is with some degree of “sheepishness” that I’m writing to you now.

Recently, The Mennonite reported that you dismissed Randy Spaulding from his position on the binational worship council because of “his desire to pursue a covenanted same-sex relationship”. According to The Mennonite, he was asked to step down from the council on March 7th. He declined and then was dismissed the next day.

I am saddened for MCUSA because of this report. I do not see any acknowledgement of the resolution passed by MCUSA delegates at Columbus. Instead, I see a step backward:

  • There is no room for “dissenting voices”.
  • There is no “commitment to ongoing dialogue and discernment”.
  • There is no “healthy and safe environment” created by this action. Instead, it sends the opposite message to our LGBT brothers and sisters: that MCUSA is not a safe place.
  • It does not allow “God’s healing and hope to flow” to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

I do not personally know Randy, but I have greatly benefitted from the gifts that he has given to our denomination. Furthermore, I have been astounded at the gentleness with which he has addressed his detractors. I do not know if he would want to continue working on the worship council. However, I encourage you to re-think your decision to dismiss him and to offer to restore him to the position on the council, if he so desired.

I do not expect or desire a personal response to my letter. I would only request that you consider carefully how this action is perceived by the denomination and how it fits with the resolution passed in Columbus. If you think that the various news reports are inaccurate or misleading, you may wish to clarify them.

It is my hope and expectation that God is moving in MCUSA to bring about a day when all members of God’s family are welcomed.

I pray that you may experience the peace of Christ as you help MCUSA face these challenges.

Derek W. Yoder