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|What Do We Mean by "Dialogue"|
What Do We Mean by "Dialogue"
RESOLUTIONS ON HUMAN SEXUALITY
|Mennonite Church, Purdue ’87||General Conference, Saskatoon ‘86|
A Call to Covenant
We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings relating to sexuality. We understand the Bible to teach that genital intercourse is reserved for a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant and that violation even within the relationship. i.e., wife battering, is a sin. It is our understanding that this teaching also precludes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual genital activity. We further understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant is sin.
We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings relating to sexuality. We understand the Bible to teach that sexual intercourse is reserved for a man and woman united in marriage and that violation of this teaching is a sin. It is our understanding that this teaching also precludes premarital, extramarital and homosexual sexual activity. We further understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant, including spouse abuse, is sin.
|We covenant with each other to mutually bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other in the body of Christ, recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God's grace and that the Holy Spirit may lead us to further truth and repentance. We promise compassion and prayer for each other that distrustful, broken, and sinful relationships may experience God's healing.||We covenant with each other to mutually bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other in the body of Christ, recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God's grace and that the Holy Spirit may lead us to further truth and repentance. We covenant compassion and prayer for each other that distrustful, broken and sinful relationships may experience God's healing.|
|We covenant with each other to take part in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other. As a part of the nurture of individuals and congregations we will promote congregational study of the complex issues of sexuality, through Bible study and the use of materials such as Human Sexuality in the Christian Life.||We covenant with each other to take part in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other. As a part of the nurture of individuals and congregations we will promote congregational study of the complex issues of sexuality through Bible study and the use of Human Sexuality in the Christian Life: A Working Document for Study and Dialogue.|
|Finally, we covenant that as we discern God's will for our
lives and our fellowship, we will seek to obey it, through God's
grace and strength.
Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit may continue to work within us as we relate with understanding to persons with varied needs and concerns in our church.
|Finally, we covenant with God that as we discern his will for our lives and our fellowship we will seek to obey it, through his grace and strength.|
Council of Faith, Life and Strategy
Myron Augsburger; Owen Burkholder; Richard Headings; Phyllis Litwiller; Martha Yoder Maust; Michael Meneses; Emma Richards
Paragraph 5 – “That we continue to dialogue on those matters wherein we disagree, and that we call upon the leaders of the CMC to facilitate and lead in this dialogue; and”
a. Some have stumbled over this article in the Resolution. They have asked, “What is the agenda of dialogue?” What are we discussing? The “matters wherein we disagree” are many. At this time, having re-affirmed our conviction that homosexual activity is sin, we do not intend, as a conference, to re-open that question. At the same time, there is still work to be done. This includes at least the following:
b. What is meant by dialogue? There have been many monologues and diatribes regarding homosexual issues. What we need is heart-to-heart encounter. This applies to every side of the discussion. Dialogue happens only when people, in the light of Scripture and in prayerful submission to the Spirit, truly listen and attempt to understand each other. Dialogue happens when people honestly, respectfully, and frankly express themselves in each other’s presence. It is “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15-c.f., vv. 25-27, 29-32) and also hearing the truth in love (1 Corinthians 13). Indeed, our Confession of Faith states that even when “suspension of membership ... occurs, the church continues to pray for them and seeks to restore them to its fellowship” (Art.14). On the topic of homosexuality we can be sure the need for discerning thought will extend for many years because of the debates within the society around us. Even if we were to make “definitive” decisions, the discussion will continue for at least another decade because of those external pressures. Churches that have taken stands on various questions related to homosexuality continue to debate, and churches which have taken no previous stand are now being drawn into it. We cannot avoid this, and our resolutions in Saskatoon and Stratford call us to engage the process.
c. The resolution “call[s] upon the leaders of the CMC to facilitate and lead in this dialogue.” While the General Board of the CMC is responsible to oversee and advise in the process of facilitation and leadership, most of the work of implementing plans and of working with congregations and conferences fall to the staff. Still we believe that discernment must happen in face-to-face settings, primarily in congregations; and that questions such as relationships between churches are primarily the responsibility of area conferences. CMC works in partnership with area conferences and provides resources to congregations. We understand that our responsibility to facilitate and lead can best be exercised by providing resources for congregational use (through the Resource Centre and through persons who can help with discernment) and by being supportive to area conference leaders. Some initiatives are underway in the national or bi-national communities of the church at this time.
Walter Franz, Executive Secretary, Ministries Commission
Helmut Harder, CMC General Secretary
Dan Nighswander, CMC Conference Minister
Robert J. Suderman, Resources Commission Executive Secretary
November 24, 1998
"Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," (Eph. 4:3) as both individual members and the body of Christ, we pledge that we shall:
|Accept conflict||1.||Acknowledge together that conflict is a normal part of our life in the church. (Rom.14:1-8, 10-12,17-19;15:1-7)|
|Affirm hope||2.||Affirm that as God walks with us in conflict we can work through to growth.(Eph.4:15-16)|
|Commit to prayer||3.||Admit our needs and commit ourselves to pray for a mutually satisfactory solution (no prayers for my success nor for the other to change, but to find a joint way). (James 5:16)|
|Go to the other...||4.||Go directly to those with whom we disagree; avoid behind-the-back criticism.* (Matt.5:23-24;18:15-20)|
|In the spirit of humility...||5.||Go in gentleness, patience and humility. Place the problem between us at neither doorstep and own our part in the conflict instead of pointing out the others'.(Gal.6:1-5)|
|Be quick to listen,||6.||Listen carefully, summarize and check out what is heard before responding. Seek as much to understand as to be understood.(James 1:19; Prov.18:13)|
|Be slow to judge,||7.||Suspend judgments, avoid labeling, end name calling, discard threats, and act in a non-defensive, nonreactive way.(Rom 2:1-4; Gal.5:22-2)|
|Be willing to negotiate||8.||
Work through the disagreements constructively.(Acts 15; Phil.2:1-11)
|Be steadfast in Love,||9.||Be firm in our commitment to seek a mutual solution; be stubborn in holding to our common foundation in Christ; be steadfast in love.(Col.3:12-1)|
|Be open to Mediation,||10.||Be open to accept skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves we will use those with gifts and training in mediation in the larger church. (Phil.4:1-3)|
|Trust the community,||11.||
We will trust the community and if we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to others in the congregation or from the broader church. (Acts 15)
|Be the Body of Christ.||12.||Believe in and rely on the solidarity of the Body of Christ and its commitment to peace and justice, rather than resort to the courts of law. (I Cor. 6:1-6)|
|*Go directly if you are European-North American; in other cultures disagreements are often addressed through a trusted go-between.|
From the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church General Boards, March-April 1995