The Executive Director of MC USA Wept

ervindumdumDear Ervin,

So sorry to hear about your weeping. Truly. It sounds like you’ve come to some very painful and difficult realizations.

I’m wondering though – did you mean to send this to everyone? Was this an unintentional blog post that was meant to be an e-mail? Perhaps you meant to send this to friends and family to ask for support in this awful time, when you’ve realized just how much harm and violence you’ve done, how much you’ve overseen, how much you continue to do.

That is completely understandable. Of course you’ll need that.

And don’t be embarrassed – we’ve all sent something to the wrong person or replied all by mistake. Usually it makes for a funny story later.

Just to be clear though – you weren’t asking queer folks to provide you with emotional support for your weeping? Nor the broader church? You weren’t looking for us to open up our arms and hold you while you cry? You weren’t seeking out sympathy or empathy or comfort or awkward back pats?

Because in the conversations I was a part of, seeking a response from the church, we weren’t looking for you to bring us your emotional burdens. Reading that sentence, do you see just how backward it is? We were looking for the historic peace church MC USA to condemn the violence against queer folks, to condemn Islamophobia in our queer names, to take accountability for MC USA’s theology, culture, and community practices that engender and enact hate and violence toward queer folks – especially and most of all queer People of Color, and to commit to concrete changes.

Do you understand the difference? Truly. It’s a question. Do you understand that this is a moment for you to turn to your family, friends, and community for your personal grief and pain? And it is a moment for you, in your role as Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA, to condemn violence, take accountability for your personal as well as the broader church’s role in it, and to name the ways the church will do better in the future.

Would you like to try again? We’ll be waiting.

Best,

J

Response by Jennifer Yoder to the Response by Ervin Stutzman

You can read Response by Ervin Stutzman here, if you missed it.

Several days ago I noticed a flurry of activity – a letter signed by 150 pastors calling for welcome of LGBTQ folks, the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA in response “earnestly desir[ing] that our church be faithful to scripture and God’s call,” articles about these developments, and comment section dust-ups. It seemed appropriate for me to acknowledge this flurry on behalf of my queer Mennonite self, and to make an initial response to the hopes and Menno-speak voiced within that flurry.

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