"Repent of the Sins of Homophobia" : The Rise of Queer Mennonite Leaders
Goossen, Rachel Waltner
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Rights© 2021 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, https://www.ucpress.edu/journals/reprintspermissions. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2021.24.3.68
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Across North America, Mennonites are widely regarded to be among the most conservative of Christian groups. But in recent decades, Mennonite understandings of LGBTQ+ identity have transformed faith communities, as the engagement of social media-conscious activists such as Pink Menno have contributed to evolving practices regarding sexual minorities in Mennonite churches. Recent ordinations and the growing visibility of queer ministers, chaplains, and theologians have led to recent schism in Mennonite Church USA, with traditionalists departing the denomination in record numbers. The decentralized nature of Mennonitism has contributed to more inclusive policies in the past two decades, although decentralization also allows exclusionary practices to persist in some churches and institutions. This article draws from oral history interviews with thirty Mennonite theologically trained LGBTQ+ leaders from across the United States and Canada. These narratives demonstrate how—in some sectors of the Mennonite community—queer and non-queer people are accelerating changes in historically homophobic spaces.