On Love and Unity in the Church (Mennonite Church, 1961)

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On Love and Unity in the Church (Mennonite Church, 1961)

Statement Context

On Inspiration of the Bible

Whereas we have been guided by God's Spirit during this Conference to affirm to ourselves and the larger society our doctrine of redemptive love and nonresistance and its relevance to atheistic communism, to the state, and to hunger in Red China,

But whereas we must regretfully admit, that in spite of our insistence that the love ethic applies to all of life and to all human relationships, many of our homes, many of our congregations, many of our institutions, and many of our conference districts are troubled with hostilities, conflicts, disunity, and. even, schism;

Therefore lest our nonresistant testimony be as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, be it resolved:

  1. That we admit and confess to each other and to God the hostility that too often infects our relationships.
  2. That we give increased attention to the implications of love and nonresistance for the healing of conflict situations especially between brethren, in our institutions, in our congregations, and in and between conference districts.
  3. That we turn anew to the divine resources of healing and reconciliation through confession, repentance, forgiveness, through openness to our brethren, through listening, sharing and admonition.
  4. That we be willing to pay the price of unity within the brotherhood and thus give meaning and substance to the nonresistance we profess.

Context of the Statement

The late 1950s and early 1960s were a time when a number of congregations and leaders withdrew from the Mennonite Churchbecause of concern over changes in theological practice. See, for example, Nationwide Fellowship Churches and Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario.

At the Mennonite General Conference delegate session in 1961 when delegates approved resolutions on The Christian Witness to the State and Communism and Anti-Communism, there was a sense of inconsistency in the Mennonite testimony. Thus the Resolutions Committee, composed of Paul M. Lederach, Donald E. King and Paul M. Miller, brought forward the above resolution, which was duly approved by the delegates.

Statements by the Mennonite Church General Conference stated the understanding of the Mennonite Church at the time of the action. Statements had informal authority and influence in the denomination; they had formal authority as confirmed or endorsed by Mennonite Church area conferences and/or congregations.

Commentary written December 2005 by Sam Steiner


Thirty-second Mennonite General Conference [Proceedings]: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, August 22-25, 1961. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1961.