Kim Penner holds a PhD in Theology from St. Michael's College with the Toronto School of Theology and is a Research Fellow at TMTC. Kim will present on "No More “Discernment”: Exploring the Practical Implications of a Liberative Feminist Christian Ethics for Congregational Life."
The word “discernment” has a long history among Anabaptist-Mennonites as well as in academic ecclesiological methods for ethics (also referred to as “witness” or “integrity” based approaches to Christian ethics). In my previous work, I have explored the problems with such approaches, including the ways in which discernment can function as a cover for existing and unequal relationships of power to function under the guise of equality (think “priesthood of all believers”). As a result, “discernment” has acquired a negative, and even traumatic, connotation for those whose voices have been ignored or silenced by such processes.
During this forum I will share about my recent attempts to articulate and practice an alternative to “discernment”. This work grows out of the consultation I did with a local Mennonite congregation seeking to grapple with the sexual and gender diversity of its members. My approach is informed by Malinda Berry’s emphasis on circle process and non-violent communication in her “Shalom Political Theology” and grounded in my commitment to liberative feminist Christian ethics. I suggest a model for congregational ethics focused on listening, identifying core values, and that uses circle sharing. I will also share about my experience with how technology can enable greater participation from voices not typically heard.
The Scholars Forum will take place virtually. RSVP for a link and instructions to connect.
 Malinda Elizabeth Berry, “Shalom Political Theology: A New Type of Mennonite Peace Theology for a New Era of Discipleship,” The Conrad Grebel Review 34, no. 1 (Winter 2016):49-73.
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