The boards of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada and U.S. have approved the possibility of exceptions to the “lifestyle expectations” for some MCC personnel, although those parameters have not been completely defined.
The updates came as the boards reviewed MCC’s human resources framework at their annual joint meeting on March 16 and 17, 2018, in Abbotsford, B.C.
Human resources is one of eight frameworks that are approved by the two boards to govern MCC’s work in relief, development and peace. The frameworks are reviewed regularly on a four-year cycle.
Before the boards met, a petition and letter criticizing MCC’s current policy on LGBTQ personnel was signed by hundreds of current and former MCC workers and volunteers. The letter called on MCC to alter or eliminate what it called a discriminatory qualification.
MCC requires “sexual celibacy for personnel outside of a heterosexual marriage relationship during their terms of service.” Workers who identify as LGBTQ are considered by MCC for service positions if they are willing to abide by the celibacy policy and agree not to “use MCC as a platform from which to advocate for same-sex sexual relationships.”
In a joint statement released on March 19, MCC Canada and MCC U.S. reiterated that MCC personnel and board members are expected to abide by an understanding of sexual intimacy only within marriage between one man and one woman, among other aspects of personal conduct.
“The framework also includes a clause whereby exceptions may be made,” stated MCC. “The process to apply exceptions is not fully determined, but exceptions must be approved by the two national executive directors, who are responsible to their respective boards.
“Exceptions will not be granted to leadership personnel, workers with significant interaction with MCC’s constituency and service workers in international assignments.”
Cheryl Zehr Walker, the MCC U.S. director of communications, said by email that the clause for exceptions pertains to the full framework and code of conduct.
MCC noted that discussions within the organization—and with input from Anabaptist church leaders in Canada and the U.S.—have been long, and will continue.
“Board chairs Peggy Snyder and Ann Graber Hershberger expressed confidence that this framework allows MCC to recognize the various contextual differences in Canada and the U.S. and to continue to focus on its ministry,” stated MCC.
The updated framework will be implemented in the coming months, along with a code of conduct outlining the faith, personal and professional conduct expectations of personnel and board members.
From Mennonite World Review. Used with permission.