EMU President Stands Firm to Church's Stance during Forum

( [email protected] ) Apr 17, 2004 09:22 AM EDT

At a campus forum held on April 13, at the Easter Mennonite University, the University’s President Loren Swartzendruber kept his explanation for the firing of two former EMU professors consistent to the school policies and the Mennonite Church’s stance on homosexual behavior.

"While it can legitimately be argued that these are statements which may be superseded at some future point by a similar church process, this is where the Mennonite Church U.S.A. officially stands as of April 2004," said Swartzendruber during the 90-minute forum.

He told the Richmond Times Dispatch, “I want to articulate as best I can the university expectation that, with respect to employment as well as student behavior, we will continue to follow our policy that sexual relationships are reserved for a man and a woman in marriage. That is the expectation of the Mennonite Church U.S.A, which is the denomination to which we are accountable."

The president said the two former EMU professors were fired for homosexual behavior. To re-emphasize that the school did not fire the individuals based on sexual orientation, Swartzendruber also said that two other staffers have been dismissed for heterosexual behavior outside of marriage.

"There have been people who have been asked to leave because of sexual behavior, homosexual and heterosexual," Swartzendruber said.

Regarding another case where a homosexual staff member whose expired contract was not renewed by the school, Swartzendruber also said the decision to not renew the contract was not based on sexual orientation.

Each student attending EMU signs to a community lifestyle commitment. However, although the school does not tolerate behavior contrary to the signed commitment which includes abstinence from drinking, smoking and having sexual relationship outside of marriage, Swartzendruber still promises a safe learning environment for all students at EMU.

"I personally will not tolerate a lack of safety," he said.