Mennonite Leader’s Credentials Suspended for ‘Ministerial Misconduct’ in Officiating ‘Gay Wedding’

Villegas BackgroundCHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A Mennonite leader in North Carolina has had his ministerial credentials suspended for officiating a same-sex “marriage” ceremony despite denominational prohibitions against the practice.

The Virginia Mennonite Conference suspended Isaac Villegas’ credentials on May 25. Villegas had been leading Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship in North Carolina and officiated a ceremony between two women on May 21.

Officiating such services requires an immediate suspension as per Conference guidelines.

“We hold the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995) to be the teaching position of the Mennonite Church USA. Thus ‘We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life,’” an online copy of the guidelines reads.

“Given the membership guidelines of the Mennonite Church USA, if a credentialed person conducts a covenanting ceremony for a same sex couple, their credentials will be immediately suspended while a review is underway,” it continues.

There are a variety of other sinful behaviors that also warrant suspension, including sexual abuse or harassment, the viewing of pornography and acts of physical violence.

Two days before his credentials were suspended, Villegas resigned from his position on the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, citing a policy that he was encouraged to resign in February after expressing his intentions to officiate the service.

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“The board has to manage a diversity of theological convictions in our denomination, and I understand their perspective on what is most helpful for board members to do and not do,” he wrote in his resignation letter according to Mennonite World Review. “So for those reasons I can understand why it is helpful to not have a member of the board who doesn’t follow part III of the Membership Guidelines.”

However, Villegas also opined that he wants Mennonite Church USA to change its stance on homosexuality.

“I hope that soon we will loosen the grip upon our lives of the denomination’s teaching position regarding sexuality; that soon we will no longer teach that queer desire is sinful; that soon we will let our churches bless those who wish to marry, whether gay or straight,” he said.

Villegas said that Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship concluded three years ago following an 18-month period of “discernment” that those who engage in homosexual behavior would not be prohibited from membership. He asserted that the decision was guided by God.

“In all of our discussions with our conference minister and the Faith and Life Commission, they did not seem willing to change their minds about the policy of the conference regarding people who are gay and lesbian, despite our congregational discernment,” Villegas said. “They seemed to be unwilling to listen to what our congregation was discerning about the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

However, as previously reported, one Mennonite congregation broke ties with Mennonite Church USA in 2014 over concerns that it was not doing enough to take a stand for biblical truth and to discipline those involved in homosexual relationships.

“We felt that Mennonite Church USA and [our church] were going in different directions concerning Scriptural authority and holiness,” Ross Miller, pastor of Hartville Mennonite Church in Lake, Ohio told the Mennonite World Review.

“We felt very strongly that that’s where God was calling us, but it was a very painful decision [to leave],” he said.

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  • TheBottomline4This

    He should abide by the rules of the Virginia Mennonite Conference or go join another organization that compromises on this issue.

  • Theodore Fenton

    I applaud Mr. Villegas for his courageous stand.

    • Amos Moses

      i am astonished ……………. NNNOOOOOOTTTTTT!!!!!

    • TheBottomline4This

      Wrong C word Theo. It wasn’t courageous, it was compromise. He should abide by the Conference’s rules or go to another organization that has lower standards.

  • Charles

    ““I hope that soon we will loosen the grip upon our lives of the denomination’s teaching position regarding sexuality; that soon we will no longer teach that queer desire is sinful; that soon we will let our churches bless those who wish to marry, whether gay or straight,” he said. Which completely disagrees with the faith he supposedly professes to hold? Please….

    • After throwing off the wisdom of his elders, he can proceed to throwing off the safety restraints that God has ordained, blessing that which God has cursed, cursing that which God has blessed.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Water pollution must be truly severe by now, but God’s truth does not change for mankind. “Christians” who endorse homosexuality or transgender are practically denying the existence of sin and therefore denying all the major Bible doctrines and major Christian doctrines. The LGBT people need God’s truth and callings for repentance for salvation from the Christians. These apostate “ministers” are actually Satan’s servants. Separation doesn’t even need to be painful.

    • Janet Tripp-Survis


    • gogo0

      there are more and longer-serving women ministers in america that are corrupting flocks of christians than ministers performing gay weddings. when will that much larger and more entrenched group of satan’s servants be taken down?

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Both female ordination and endorsement of homosexuality are wrong. Female ordination is a disobedience to God, and it leads to apostasy and gender confusion and immorality within the Church. It’s not coincidence that the denominations that practice female ordination also endorse the sins of homosexuality and abortion. To them, sin does not exist. Read Revelation ch. 2-3.

        • gogo0

          the question is, why has this never been something christians have fought against? by allowing it they are tacitly condoning this sin and sending people who think they are christians to eternal torture.

          • Josey

            It has been something that has been dealt with in some churches, churches that follow God’s entire word. We can see the fruit of the churches who haven’t dealt with it, has brought confusion and every evil work with it into those churches, a born again Christian will not attend those church groups, they know Jesus Christ’s voice and another they will not follow.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            It’s eternal justice for unrepentant sinners, the exact result of committed sins; nothing more and nothing less. (Revelation ch. 20) People must fear God and repent of sins and believe in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and salvation. (Psalm ch. 2, John ch.3)

    • Lynn Miller


  • billinghamboy

    God’s Word should always have the last word.Any minister who can’t cope with this should hand in their credential.

  • Peter Leh

    conform or get out… those are the rules of the “club”

    • 0pus

      Yeah, private associations can set their own standards.
      That seems to upset your type.
      You’d love to get the government poking its nose into every corner of people’s lives.
      All liberals are fascists.

      We’re much more tolerant than you. If you and your sisters want to set up an all-gay church which does not admit heterosexuals, you go for it. No one will mind at all.

      • Peter Leh

        um.. you know you are talking to a conservative evangelical?

        and yes.. i do know “my type”. 🙂

        • Amos Moses

          “um.. you know you are talking to a conservative evangelical?”

          WOW …………….. and you did not choke on that as it came out?

          Oh wait, you must not have meant yourself ………… sorry …. i got it ……

          • Peter Leh

            always have been.

          • Amos Moses

            No ………. you are not ……… you are about as liberal as you can get and still …… maybe ……… make a claim to christianity …….. but conservative … no ..

          • Peter Leh

            proof? I am well documented.

            Surely you can quote my “liberal” convictions?

            or does liberal mean anything that disagrees with Amos Moses?

            I know my kind brother.

          • Amos Moses

            “proof? I am well documented.”

            Answered your own question …………….

          • Peter Leh

            I certainly cannot find any.

            Put up or shut, no?

          • Amos Moses

            No, you are not a conservative and your words constantly demonstrate it ….. that you do not see it ….. i am not surprised ………. and even if i did show you …….. you would deny it ……… so what is the point ……….. everyone else can see it ……….. as you said ……… “I am well documented.” ………………..

          • Peter Leh

            still waiting… my fellow conservative friend. 🙂

      • gogo0

        “You’d [liberals] love to get the government poking its nose into every corner of people’s lives.”
        youve got a real knack for hypocrisy.

  • Gary Whiteman

    The irony is, these world-conforming pastors gain nothing from these actions. The pro-gay churches are shrinking away to nothing. The liberals keep saying that conservative Christianity is driving people away, yet it’s the left-wing churches that are on the verge of extinction.

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      They are succeeding in spreading Satanic immorality in the world.

  • 22blace66

    I support the sentiment. But I have not found a marriage ceremony by a preacher in the NT. Yes a Jewish wedding feast and Paul refers to marriage. Again I believe marriage is for life between a man and a woman that is New Testament. But I guess tradition informs us Christian groups as well as the Mennonites on who or how. Paul certainly doesn’t give us instructions on how or whom should conduct such a ceremony. I assume there was one back then. But who is to say that a preacher of a pastor was in charge of it? I can’t find the passages-maybe somebody reading these comments could show me one.

  • Morris

    If the Chapel Hill congregation discerned from a “spirit” that homosexual behavior was acceptable, it was not the “Holy Spirit” with whom they were discerning. It was the spirit of the anti-christ, already at work in the world. Shame on this congregation, this “pastor” and any who think this is appropriate behavior admissible under the pretense of being “loving”.

  • Gena B

    I come from many generations of devoted Christians who were very conservative (by today’s standards) members and founders of many Mennonite churches and missions. As the younger generations have come in, they have allowed women pastors, strayed from standing firm against sin and seem to look more and more like the world. It’s sad and unfortunate, but as Jesus warned us, things will continue to get worse until he returns. It’s not going to get better folks, but we have to stand firm in faith no matter how bad the pressures get.