Appreciated meaningful conversationsby Ruby Lehman Harrisonburg, Va.
Attending the Mennonite Church USA convention, I spent most of my time in the exhibit hall at the MennoNeighbors booth, where our focus was on peace and justice issues. I felt overwhelming affirmation as I engaged in discussions with many people of all ages.
I was especially interested in the different approaches to discussing areas where we differ from each other. Fruitful dialogue happens when two parties actually listen to each other, showing mutual respect for another's feelings as well as beliefs. I want to give special thanks to several pastor-leaders who stopped by the booth and engaged in meaningful discussion, even though they did not agree with MennoNeighbors on the issue of lgbtq inclusion in the church. They made a lasting impression on me, exemplifying what Mennonite Church USA is asking of its members. How different those conversations felt from several encounters with youth pastor-leaders who came up to me with Bibles in hand, using Scripture to tell me how wrong I am. From their body language as they approached, I could tell it would be an encounter rather than a dialogue.
As the church deals with differing voices, my prayer is that we will learn to listen to each other and try to stand in the shoes of those among us who want to be a vital part of the church but are excluded because of who they are.
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