Homosexuality issue causing Mennonite Church USA to break apart amid declining loyalty, growing conflict

(Mennonite Church USA)

Aside from degrading moral values, homosexuality seems to be sowing discord even among Christians as well.

Christians from the Mennonite Church in the United States continue to be divided on whether their denomination should be open to gays and lesbians, and this issue is perceived to be causing the church to break apart.

According to a report from Religion News, three of the Mennonite Church USA's 20 regional conferences already voted to withdraw, maintaining that homosexuality runs counter to Biblical teachings.

Because of the withdrawals, membership in the American Christian church denomination has the potential of shrinking by 17 percent, and the number of its congregations drastically decreasing by half.

The withdrawals happened following the decision taken during the Central Conference last summer to grant ministerial credentials to a gay man, and the Western Conference's declaration that its ministers could officiate same-sex weddings without fear of censure.

Officially, the Mennonite Church USA still stands firm that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Allen Lehman, administrator of the 1,000-member Franklin Conference, which voted in April to withdraw from Mennonite Church USA, however said the denomination has a problem in disciplining its regional bodies.

"It's about homosexuality, but it's about a polity of governance that doesn't lodge authority anywhere," Lehman said in the Religion News report.

Patricia Shelly, the Mennonite Church USA's moderator, even admitted that some denominational officials are already coming up with plans which threaten to further break the church apart.

"We're planning for a smaller denomination, and that raises a lot of questions," Shelly also told Religion News.

Mennonite World Review, an independent newspaper, meanwhile suggested in an editorial that the church loosen its organisation.

"In a time of declining loyalty and growing conflict, denominations as we have known them may no longer be sustainable financially or emotionally," the newspaper column read.

"The solution might be to end the denomination as they've known it," the opinion piece added.