Germantown Mennonite Church, the oldest continuous Mennonite congregation in North America, has been ousted from its regional conference because of its stand on covenanted gay and lesbian couples in membership. The churchs pastor, Rev. Richard Lichty, was also stripped of his clergy credentials by the Franconia Conference.
Through a 178-40 mail-in vote, delegates to the Franconia Conference passed judgment on an issue that has caused debate and division for the last three years. The leader of the Franconia Conference said that according to Mennonite Church policy, only celibate homosexuals can be accepted as members.
The Germantown congregation was dismayed that a decision of this magnitude was made through a secret mail-in ballot. According to the executive committee of the Franconia Conference, they decided to bring the issue to a vote "because the spiritual and relational health of the conference has seriously eroded due to prolonged discussion of the issue."
After the conference presented the results of the vote to the Germantown congregation, the pastor and a member of the congregation requested and received a symbolic escort out of the meeting house by the moderator and pastor of the conference.