EMU is already functioning as a Mennonite-founded parachurch organization.
I ended my last posting with this controversial claim. So, I should explain why I say that.
I used the following definition of parachurch organizations with the phrase that is most likely to concern some of my colleagues at EMU highlighted.
Parachurch organizations are Christian faith-based organizations that usually carry out their mission independent of church oversight. The prefix para, is Greek for beside, or alongside. Most parachurch organizations, at least those normally called parachurch, are Protestant and Evangelical.
My colleague Roman Miller wrote in the Weathervane, “As a parachurch organization, I believe EMU should walk along with the church and not make a premature decision which will enhance division and mar the body of Christ.”
The question is, which church is he talking about? I think Roman means MCUSA. That might make sense, except that parachurch organizations are not related to a single denomination. An organization related to a single denomination is a church agency, not a parachurch organization. Much as Roman might want to avoid enhancing the divisions in the Christian community and in MCUSA, the reality is we (Christians) are already divided on this issue. And we will be for quite some time, I think. Just as we have been (are) divided on the role of women in church life, divorce and remarriage, and a variety of other issues.
If we are a parachurch organization, the question is, “How can we live with our divisions while working together on other goals — such as providing a high-quality, Anabaptist-influenced education (EMU) or relieving poverty (e.g., World Vision)?”