Official account of Spaulding dismissal
Communiqué: Official communication from Mennonite Church USA Executive Boardby Ervin Stutzman, Mennonite Church USA executive director
There are rumors and varying accounts of Randall Spaulding’s dismissal from the Binational Worship Council. This is a brief but official Mennonite Church USA account of our understanding of what happened. When the Binational council was formed, it seemed natural for Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) to appoint Randall to the committee, since he had participated in a number of other such tasks, including the editing of two hymnal supplements. So, at the time the Binational Worship Council was formed in April 2008, they took counsel with denominational leaders, at which time Randall was appointed as one of the representatives of Mennonite Church USA.
MPN knew that Randall had divorced his wife of 19 years before coming out as gay, so MPN made the appointment with an understanding from denominational leaders that Randall could serve as long as he was not in an active gay relationship. (Not everyone involved remembers the agreement in the same way; Randall and council members thought the only limit was that he not serve as chair of the committee).
Later, when Randall told the Southeast Mennonite Conference he was pursuing a same-sex relationship, they revoked his ministerial credentials. After joining in a marriage covenant with another man in June 2010, Randall raised the question of his ongoing participation on the Council in October 2010. In January, MPN sought counsel from denominational staff, who conferred with Southeast Mennonite Conference and with the denominational moderators. All agreed that although Randall was serving well from the viewpoint of the committee, it seemed best for him not to continue in such a visible role after his pastoral credentials had been suspended; substantial groups in the church could not support his ministry. It was also deemed to be consistent with the membership guidelines adopted at Nashville. This was communicated to Randall in a phone conversation with good mutual exchange. In the end, Randall indicated that he would not step down voluntarily; he would need to be asked to quit. After further counsel, it was deemed best to honor the conference’s decision and discontinue his appointment through Mennonite Church USA.
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