Former Mennonite pastor Chester Wenger dies



Former Mennonite pastor Chester Wenger, who made national headlines eight years ago when he was stripped of his credentials for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, has died.Wenger died Thursday at age 102 at his home in Lancaster County.”My father was a person who gave his life to his family and his church,” said his son, Phil Wenger.Chester Wenger lived in Lancaster County for the past 60 years. He spent a decade serving as the pastor at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, but his son said his father’s greatest work came later in life. “When marriage became legal, I went to my father, my friend, my mentor and asked him whether he would sign a marriage certificate,” Phil Wenger said.A retired Chester Wenger officiated his son’s wedding in June 2014.After the ceremony, he published a letter explaining why he did it. He wrote, “We believe this is an opportune moment for the church to boldly proclaim a pastoral, grace-filled readiness to include both homosexuals and heterosexuals within the blessing of a marriage covenant designed to be wholesome and God-honoring.””Which means that you can be orthodox and you can be generous and you can be relevant for today,” Phil Wenger said.In response to the letter, the Mennonite Church revoked Wenger’s pastoral credentials. Wenger’s son-in-law said the community has lost one of its greatest heroes. “He stood up for his beliefs. He stood up with his convictions. He stood up for us,” Steve Dinnocenti said.

Former Mennonite pastor Chester Wenger, who made national headlines eight years ago when he was stripped of his credentials for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, has died.

Wenger died Thursday at age 102 at his home in Lancaster County.

“My father was a person who gave his life to his family and his church,” said his son, Phil Wenger.

Chester Wenger lived in Lancaster County for the past 60 years. He spent a decade serving as the pastor at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, but his son said his father’s greatest work came later in life.

“When marriage became legal, I went to my father, my friend, my mentor and asked him whether he would sign a marriage certificate,” Phil Wenger said.

A retired Chester Wenger officiated his son’s wedding in June 2014.

After the ceremony, he published a letter explaining why he did it. He wrote, “We believe this is an opportune moment for the church to boldly proclaim a pastoral, grace-filled readiness to include both homosexuals and heterosexuals within the blessing of a marriage covenant designed to be wholesome and God-honoring.”

“Which means that you can be orthodox and you can be generous and you can be relevant for today,” Phil Wenger said.

In response to the letter, the Mennonite Church revoked Wenger’s pastoral credentials.

Wenger’s son-in-law said the community has lost one of its greatest heroes.

“He stood up for his beliefs. He stood up with his convictions. He stood up for us,” Steve Dinnocenti said.

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