Stutzman Calls for Kingdom Unity Over Political Divide
Ervin Stutzman, the executive director of Mennonite Church USA, called for church members to “be reconciled to God” during the final adult worship session on Friday evening. By reconciling with God, he said, Christians can become ambassadors for God.
“You can be an ambassador of Christ, but you need to be reconciled with God,” said Stutzman. “Open your hearts to God.”
Stutzman started by reading segments from 1 Corinthians, highlighting the sins and controversies experienced by that church in Corinth. He then explained how those same problems were again addressed in 2 Corinthians.
“If you read 2 Corinthians, you get the really strong impression that (the Corinthian Church) didn’t get it,” Stutzman said.
The Corinthians needed to reconcile with God before they could become ambassadors for God to others, both inside and outside of the church.
Stutzman then compared the Corinthian church to Mennonite Church USA in how it is divided on controversial issues. He said he sees many of the same troubles that plagued the Corinthians occurring in Mennonite Church USA.
“In our nation today, we are like a big bus careening down the road,” said Stutzman. People are on both sides of this political bus, leaning on certain sides, hoping to avoid ditch after ditch, he said.
“Where would Jesus sit? That’s the question,” he said. If we claim that the divided bus is headed toward the Kingdom of God, Stutzman said, then Jesus would say that we’re all on the wrong bus.
“When political differences divide our congregations,” said Stutzman, “. . . we sin just like the Corinthian people.”
According to Stutzman, becoming reconciled with God is imperative if a Christian wants to become an ambassador of God. Doing so requires one to “open up (one’s) heart to God.”
“(Paul) would want us to be ambassadors for God. There’s no better job description than being an ambassador for God.”
“When we come to meetings like this, we often point out the sins of others,” Stutzman said. He suggested that Mennonites take the planks out of their own eyes and use it as a bridge to reach people of other opinions.
“Being a bridge to the cross… often invites us to confess our sins,” he said.
He ended by saying he is “a sinner saved by grace,” ushering the service into its time of anointing. Stutzman was the first person to be anointed, and he returned the favor, by anointing the worship leaders, Sue Conrad Howes and Glen Guyton.
Anointing is a practice that lets participants be totally covered by the grace of God, according to Conrad Howes and Guyton. It’s a way of acknowledging God’s grace in our work, our ministry and our lives. “When we are weak, when we are weary, the spirit of God will give us strength,” Guyton said.
Adult worship at convention ended with dismissal and the invitation to anointing. Conrad Howes said, “Go in peace, brothers and sisters. Be the bridge.”