Mennonite rules on dating

Cranes and bulldozers and union crews are completing the second phase of a 1,250-person retirement community at Willow Valley.

A family-owned empire on nearly 300 acres of land, Willow Valley, a combined retirement community, corporate and conference center and vacation resort, also includes two motels, a shopping mall, a condominium complex, three restaurants, several swimming pools, a supermarket and a golf course.

I begin here because Christians have only recently emerged from a somewhat anti-sexual period in church history in which the words “sex” and “sin” have been so closely united in Christian thinking that many of the faithful regard them as synonymous.

Mennonite branches, the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, plan to unite as the Mennonite Church USA next summer in Nashville, Tenn.

No foreman barks orders, no wages will be paid, but on the third day of construction, the building, a rectangular structure with no steeple - nothing to promote pride or encourage vanity - is almost complete.

A few miles south, a very different Mennonite-run construction project is under way.

Over the past month both sides have raised the rhetoric and broughtthe issue to the front of the church's consciousness.

In January, 30 bishops in the Lancaster (Pa.) Conference of the Mennonite Church issued a "Statement of Faith and Call to Prayer,"calling for a resolution at next summer's convention to clarify thechurch's stance on homosexuality."We believe that we cannot be faithful to our understanding of Scripture that homosexual behavior is sin and join with a church bodywhich does not support those commitments," the statement read.

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