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Mennonite pastor under scrutiny for presiding over same-sex wedding

Thursday, August 21, 2014
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GOSHEN, Ind. — Two Mennonite conferences will review the credentials of a Goshen, Ind., pastor who presided over the marriage of a same-sex couple in violation of the religion’s rules.

Karl Shelly

Karl Shelly

Assembly Mennonite Church Pastor Karl Shelly wrote in a statement he submitted to the Indiana-Michigan conference that he performed the service in May after determining that “being born with a same-sex sexual orientation and entering into a life-long covenant of fidelity and love with another human being is not sin,” The Elkhart Truth reported.

Mennonite Church USA guidelines say that pastors holding credentials in its conference may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony. Individual churches belong to conferences, bodies under the Mennonite Church USA umbrella that oversee groups of churches.

Conference officials, not Mennonite Church USA, are responsible for reviews when pastors carry out same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Assembly Mennonite Church belongs to both the Indiana-Michigan and Central District conferences.

Nancy Kauffmann, denominational minister for Mennonite Church USA, said no pastor has lost a credential for performing a same-sex marriage.

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Lois Johns Kaufmann, Central District Conference minister, said the body once before reviewed an Illinois pastor who performed a same-sex marriage ceremony. The credentials were not revoked.

“We will just be doing a review that looks at (Shelly’s) biblical, theological and spiritual understanding, and look to see whether or not he is a qualified pastor,” she said. “He has been upfront and clear that he performed the same-sex marriage.”

Dan Miller, pastor at the Indiana-Michigan conference, wouldn’t speculate on what would happen with the review of Shelly’s credentials.

Whether to allow Mennonite churches perform same-sex covenant ceremonies likely will be a topic of debate at the Mennonite Church USA national assembly next year, Nancy Kauffmann said.

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