Mennonite Groups Agree on Merger and New Division

DENOMINATIONS: Mennonite Groups Agree on Merger and New Division
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Two binational Mennonite denominations are integrating to form a single Mennonite Church, which will be reorganized along national lines as the Mennonite Church USA and the Mennonite Church Canada. Within the two original groups, Canadians make up almost 40 percent of the Mennonite General Conference membership and 10 percent of the Mennonite Church.

Reasons cited for the reorganization include the complaint that U.S. concerns have long dominated the two existing binational conferences. "We are responding to the fact that we have to recognize the importance of country contexts," says David Linscheid, director of communications for the General Conference of the Mennonite Church.

The greatest challenge posed by the integration process, Linscheid says, will be determining which binational programs should be dismantled and reorganized as national ministries, and which programs would still benefit from binational cooperation. Many publishing and missions ventures are likely to remain binational, he says.

The binational General Conference and Mennonite Church program agencies will continue to operate for two more years as the process of transferring resources, property, and authority to the new national boards is worked out. The two-year U.S. transfer process will cost an estimated $900,000 and the Canadian transfer about $375,000.

Integration has also raised other concerns about the acceptance of noncelibate homosexuals as congregational members.

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