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2010-01-04 issue:

Hyattsville church denied ACC membership

Six congregations have changed area conference membership since 2002.

by Everett J. Thomas

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In early 2009, Hyattsville (Md.) Mennonite Church applied for membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). In November 2009, they learned that Atlantic Coast Conference leaders decided not to proceed further with their transfer request at this time.

"ACC said they would like to have Allegheny Mennonite Conference and Hyattsville resolve their differences first before considering ACC membership," Hyattsville pastor Cynthia Lapp said on Dec. 11, 2009. "We were disappointed; I don’t know that we were surprised. We're not unaware how difficult it is, even in the broader Christian church, to talk about [human sexuality] issues."

Hyattsville has been under discipline from Allegheny Conference since November 2005. The discipline centers around Hyattsville's membership guidelines, which embrace members in monogamous, same-sex relationships.

"Being under discipline means 'no vote' at conference or Mennonite Church USA [Delegate Assembly], and our members cannot hold office," said Lapp, who also expressed hope about renewed conversations.

"There's a new model of collaboration between Allegheny Conference, ACC and Mennonite Church USA," Lapp said, "which I think is great. Before, it was just Allegheny Conference and Hyattsville."

Since the beginning of Mennonite Church USA in 2002, six congregations have changed membership from one conference to another. These include, in alphabetical order:

• Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship changed from Southeast Mennonite Conference to Central District Conference
• Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa., changed from Lancaster Mennonite Conference to Atlantic Coast Conference
• Chestnut Ridge Mennonite Church, Orrville, Ohio, changed from Virginia Mennonite Conference to Ohio Mennonite Conference
• First Mennonite Church of Berne, Ind., changed from Central District Conference to Ohio Mennonite Conference
• North Side Mennonite, Hagerstown, Md., changed from Atlantic Coast Conference to Franklin Mennonite Conference
• Shalom Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va., changed from Virginia Mennonite Conference to Central District Conference

Hyattsville Mennonite Church becomes the first Mennonite Church USA congregation to have its formal application denied when asking to change its membership from one area conference to another.

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  • Posted by tmadmin at Tuesday, January 05, 2010 at 09:55 AM

    From Warren Tyson, Atlantic Coast executive conference minister and Eastern District Conference Minister: I just wanted to highlight that at least one other transfer took place. Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Reinholds, Pa., transferred their membership from Eastern District Conference to Atlantic Coast Conference in April 2006. It was a significant loss for EDC but yet a cordial transfer, knowing it was the preference of Emmanuel membership to change their conference affiliation. EDC leaders conveyed blessing on the transfer taking place.

  • Posted by tmadmin at Tuesday, January 05, 2010 at 09:56 AM

    From Kurt Horst: You may have missed one congregational transfer in your list of six. Beaver Run Mennonite Church applied to Allegheny Conference after being disciplined by Lancaster Conf. (it may not qualify since they were actually removed from Lancaster before applying to Allegheny but the same guidelines for conversations between Conferences were followed). They were accepted into “provisional” membership in Allegheny (with the same restrictions as those for Hyattsville) but then failed to maintain viability as a congregation and never completed the membership process.

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