The short story…
In 2006, the Frazer congregation experienced the painful departure of a much loved and appreciated regular attendee who had found a gracious home at Frazer for sixteen years. Because he was a gay man in a committed relationship, his exploration to become a church member at Frazer raised new questions for the congregation to address. At the time, Frazer was affiliated with the Lancaster Mennonite Conference which had a clearly-stated policy against offering church membership to persons engaged in homosexual behavior. This difficult and unsettling experience, felt by everyone regardless of their theological position on homosexuality, led the congregation to seek to clarify its membership policy.
One of the priorities identified by the congregation after the new pastor, Brenda Martin Hurst, arrived in fall 2007 was to “engage in an educational process to understand and to discuss homosexuality, in order to discern our response to gay/lesbian attendees who desire membership.
” After taking one year to get acquainted with the Frazer congregation and to build trust, Pastor Brenda began to work with the Ministry Team to design a congregational process to discern this matter. In April 2009, the Frazer congregational formally adopted the 18-month process proposed by the Ministry Team and intended to conclude in October 2010 with the adoption of a church membership statement.
Our prayerful and deliberate discernment process got extended longer when, by October 2010, it became clear that Frazer could not both
welcome gays and lesbians into membership and
remain affiliated with Lancaster Mennonite Conference, as we desired. At that point, the congregation decided to take six months to follow the call of Psalm 46:10, “be still and know that I am God,” and to prayerfully wait and watch for further direction from God’s Spirit.
On March 27, 2011, the Frazer congregation affirmed this statement of clarity, “The Spirit of God is calling FMC to embody and give witness to practicing our unity in Jesus Christ in the midst of our diversity within the congregation, in our conference /denominational relationships and in the world
.” At the same meeting, we considered a new draft membership statement presented by the Ministry Team and considered options for Frazer regarding conference affiliation within Mennonite Church USA.
On April 10, 2011, the Frazer congregation took formal action to pursue affiliation in another Mennonite Church USA conference. This careful process culminated in taking congregational action on June 9, 2013 to accept the Atlantic Coast Conference invitation to associate membership extended to Frazer Mennonite Church on April 20, 2013.
The Frazer congregation finally adopted this membership statement on October 20, 2013:
Membership Statement of Frazer Mennonite Church
Frazer Mennonite Church welcomes into membership all persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ. We welcome all who desire to walk with Christ in order to grow in trusting God, in following the light of Scripture and in living Jesus’s way. Considering this common commitment to Jesus Christ to be essential, Frazer members seek to practice “in essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things love.” We trust the Spirit’s transforming presence, in each of our lives and in our life together, to be reconciling us all to God and to one another through Jesus Christ.