Leanne Zook posted this on her blog (http://www.urbanmennonite.com/2009/04/06/why-i-am-signing-the-letter-to-mcusa/). We loved it and wanted to share it here:
When I was a junior in college, I participated in an off-campus program my undergrad alma mater offered where we spent a year living in a group house with other Menno college youth, working at a social service or advocacy agency part-time and attending the University of Maryland part-time. My housemates were as eclectic as young, white, middle-class, mostly Mennonite kids can be (meaning not so much) but we still managed to pack a little bit of diversity in there.
One of my housemates, a senior, came out very early in the year - to himself and then to the whole house and then to his family eventually later that year. He came from a small town in the Midwest, from a very rural Mennonite community, and I think he knew that his family would have issues. He would get letters from his grandma saying that she didn't understand and she was praying for him and his mom kept crying when they talked on the phone. But I think the saddest letter he got that year was the one from his church saying that he would not be welcome to take communion with them.
I can still remember him reading the letter to us around the butcher block island in the kitchen. And I can still remember his anger and his deep, painful sorrow. I had had a semi-rough relationship with the church before but that was my first first-hand example of how the Church in general - and the Mennonite Church in particular - had utterly and completely failed someone. Failed to accept, failed to love, failed to understand, failed to dialogue, failed this person in every way possible.
This wouldn't be the last time I saw such a failing but that one really stands out and might, in fact, haunt me for a very long time. And it would take another decade or so before I found a Mennonite church that would acknowledge those failings and, in its own way, attempt to rectify them.
When I asked the question "where have all the Mennonites gone" one of the answers is that we have driven some of them away and willingly left others behind. I think about that housemate of mine who might have been a great asset to his local church whereever that may have been (the irony is that he actually currently lives a block away from a good one). Or about all the other gay Mennonites I know who aren't really Mennonite anymore. Or about the young MYFers who are afraid to talk about it to their youth leaders or to their friends or to their pastors. Some of them will leave anyway. But we have lost so many who might have stayed. We have caused so much pain.
The bravest Mennonites I know these days are the LGBT Mennonites who stay in the church - actively participating in the church - knowing that the Church has hurt them and their loved ones deeply but believing that it can and will change. Most amazingly of all, they find it within themselves to forgive the Church and to bring to individual congregations and people the compassion, love and acceptance that is so often not given to them.
Whether the larger Mennonite Church will ever be able to talk about this issue, much less accept the hurt it has caused and apologize for its failings, I don't know. Some days yes. Some days no. I'd like to have faith that there will be more yes days than no days. What is faith after all but the triumph of hope over experience.