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2011-09-01 issue:

Decision not to discipline pastor stands at WDC

by Mennonite Weekly Review

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Western District Conference delegates on July 30 turned away a challenge to a decision not to discipline a pastor for officiating at a same-sex covenant ceremony.

By a 152-to-22 vote, delegates upheld the moderator’s ruling that a motion to overturn the decision was out of order.

Michael Entz of Hydro, Okla., moved that the Executive Committee overrule the Leadership Commission and discipline Joanna Harader, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence.

Last September, Harader performed a covenant ceremony for two women who are not part of the congregation. Kansas bans same-sex marriage, so the ceremony had no legal standing.

Mennonite Church USA’s 2001 membership guidelines forbid pastors to lead same-sex ceremonies. The guidelines require a conference to review the credentials of a pastor who breaks the rule.

The Western District Leadership Commission conducted a review and on a 4-to-2 vote found Harader’s credentials “in order.”

Entz challenged the decision during the conference’s annual assembly July 30. He spoke for his congregation, Bethel Mennonite Church of Hydro, which sent a letter saying the conference had betrayed its trust.

The letter called for Harader’s credentials to be revoked and for the commission members who voted not to discipline her to be removed.

Moderator Doug Penner ruled Entz’s motion out of order because a 2009 policy requires that resolutions on important issues be presented in time for congregations to process them first.

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