Black Lives Matter

Ella’s Song: We who believe in freedom cannot rest.

“I mean, I read the books, I understood institutional racism, but I didn’t know what it felt like. Until I started listening to people with the assumption that I don’t know, I didn’t hear everything that I hear now. And now I can’t not do anything. And now I realize that this evil is impacting us all.” Reverend Kate Lore

It has been awhile since I posted, and it was my intention for my next post to be my contribution to the State of the Movement from Fabulous, Fierce, & Sacred. That’s still coming, but the Ferguson decision came like a sucker punch immediately following the conference. Instead, here are some of the resources (this is not meant as an exhaustive list) I’m spending time with as I process with my communities the ongoing violence of white supremacy. Be sure to find your local community responses to Ferguson, and connect with your local organizations and communities working for racial justice and an end to white supremacy.
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Dear, Dear Ervin

The following is a letter to Ervin Stutzman from my brother and Pink Menno co-creator, Luke Yoder.
The pic is of my mom and one of my sisters. Because the family that Pink prays together, stays together.
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Hi Ervin,

I wanted to express my ongoing sadness that the MC USA Exec. Board continues to find every opportunity to hold down and oppress when there are wonderfully prophetic voices that are showing us how we can live into a new reality.  I don’t have the words to express my disappointment that the Executive Board seems to believe that its role is to hold a false unity rather than celebrate a very real diversity.  This is an incredibly disappointing (and, ultimately, damaging to countless individuals who continue to be reminded that the Mennonite Church does not have enough love to accept and welcome them) response to Mountain States.

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The Violence of Silence

Quotation-Maggie-Kuhn-fear-mind-Meetville-Quotes-182615Recently an employee working at Goshen College’s library, Tabi Berkey, came out as a lesbian. After submitting her resignation, she spoke about the impact of Goshen’s discriminatory hiring policy on her. I am incredibly grateful to Tabi for using her voice to stand up for other closeted employees, and for the many of us who would never apply for a position there as long as their discriminatory practice stands. I am also sad that Tabi had the experience of living in secrecy about her identity, and the impact that could/may have had on her wellness.

Here’s the thing, my peacemaking Mennonite community members: when we cause someone to live in fear that one person discovering the fullness of their humanity could shame and isolate them from their livelihood and work community, we do harm. We commit violence. And it is time to repent and make peace. Continue reading

Church must offer redemption, not embrace judgment and spiritual violence

Church must offer redemption, not embrace judgment and spiritual violence

Apr 28, 2014 by Jennifer A. Yoder, For Queer Menno

How should Mennonite churches respond to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer? The feelings of entitlement to judge and the “rightness” of a heterosexual lifestyle that will rise up are strong, and they are hard to unpack and think about critically. Please pause, and pray, and breathe deeply when this occurs.

My decade of being a Mennonite out queer person making peace through social justice, practicing peacemaking to end sexual violence and advocate for survivors, working to end structural violence by providing access to health care to all people, advocating for people with mental health issues, and witnessing with existing queer communities and community members within the Mennonite Church provides me with some rich perspectives from which to converse with you, my community members living the heterosexual lifestyle. Continue reading

Are You My Ally?

AreYouMyMotherMachine

MC USA’s power-holders meet and gather, discern, hem, haw, and engage in thoughtful discussion with no particular end in sight. Individual conferences meet and write letters, agree, disagree, talk about leaving the denomination, struggle, worship together, find commonality, despair (or rarely delight) at difference.

We queer folks in the Mennonite church and allies for inclusion gather, support, write, lean in, take a breath, take a break, envision new paths, hug, plan, build.

At this moment I feel called to engage a particular voice within our community. Perhaps we can engage with each other and model for the broader church ways to agree and disagree in love. To call in, to lean in, to strengthen solidarity, support, and community. Let’s dive in.

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RE: Elephants, a Call to Allies and Humans in the Mennonite Church

Good afternoon, allies and humans of the Mennonite Church. I (a human who is queer) have a quick note, a “call to action,” if you will.

First, some facts:

  1. I am a human with a human life partner and a human (step/bonus/partner’s) son. In addition, members of my family such as my mother, brother, sisters, and father are humans.
  2. I am not an elephant.
  3. I am not an issue.
  4. I am not a crucible time.
  5. I am not a dilemma, a burden, a conflict, a problem, a discussion, a question, a challenge, a threat, or any other non-living, non-breathing thing, noun, verb, adverb, what-have-you.
  6. I am not even “homosexuality.”

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