The Executive Board (EB) of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) approved a $1.4 million budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, announced a special delegate session for May 27-30, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri, and reviewed several proposed resolutions during its meeting on April 16 and 17, 2021, via videoconference.
Executive Director Glen Guyton addressed denominational finances in his opening report to the EB. “We are doing well in terms of finances,” said Guyton. “We are in a better cash position than we have been in a number of years.” He attributed this, in part, to savings of $150,000 from reduced travel during the pandemic and the generosity of Everence in providing its annual contribution to the denomination as a “first fruits” payment in the beginning of the fiscal year.
Guyton said that, because of the impact of the global pandemic, he anticipated a significant loss related to the denomination’s biennial MennoCon21 convention July 6-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but added, “We have managed our funds well, and we will be able to draw from our reserves.”
He also provided an overview of recent giving campaigns, including a year-end appeal that resulted in more than $13,000 in donations and the month-long, collaborative Spring It Forward campaign with MennoMedia and Mennonite Education Agency (MEA), which raised an estimated $7,625.
Other highlights reported included:
- An update on the EB/MEA task group formed in November 2020, which is working to expand the LARK scholarship program by transfer its administration to the EB, coordinate fundraising with African American Mennonite Association (AAMA) to advance a leadership development program for African Americans in MC USA
- A discussion of the newly expanded ministerial misconduct file sharing protocols
- Highlights of peace and justice initiatives, including the recent Learn, Pray, Join: Cost of War awareness campaign and the new “Defund the Police?: An Abolition Curriculum”
- An update on the denomination-wide research study, which has been contracted to Springtide Research Institute and is now in the initial discovery stage
Following Guyton’s report, the EB voted unanimously to accept the audit report provided by Regier Carr & Monroe, LLP, CPAs, for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2020, and approved a budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2022, with a projected deficit of $194,125.
Proposed bylaw changes and resolutions
The EB voted unanimously to forward several proposed MC USA Bylaw changes to the Delegate Assembly for deliberation. The Delegate Assembly will vote on these recommendations during its abbreviated virtual gathering on July 10, 2021.
The EB also voted unanimously to send its proposed resolution “to retire the denomination’s Membership Guidelines as active polity in Mennonite Church USA” to a future Delegate Assembly for final deliberation. (See news release here.) According to the denomination’s guidelines for developing resolutions, the Resolutions Committee or the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) may not prevent a resolution submitted by the Executive Board from being submitted to a Delegate Assembly. Read the full text of the proposed resolution here.
In a closed session, the Executive Board discussed and provided feedback to the Resolutions Committee on three additional proposed church statement resolutions from the constituency:
- “For justice in the U.S. Criminal Legal System”
- “MC USA Accessibility Resolution 2021”
- “A Resolution for Repentance and Transformation”
The Resolutions Committee will consider this feedback and the feedback from the CLC in determining whether to recommend these resolutions for deliberation by the Delegate Assembly.
In a separate motion, the EB voted to hold a special session of the Delegate Assembly on May 27-30, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. Resolutions forwarded by the EB and the Resolutions Committee will be deliberated at this special delegate session.
For stewardship purposes, the CLC and Executive Board meetings will be held in conjunction with the special Delegate session.
- In other business, MC USA EB unanimously affirmed the consent agenda for EB appointees to the EB, MHS and Mennonite Mission Network boards for terms running 2021-2025 and affirmed the slate of nominees brought from the Leadership Discernment Committee for election at the July 10 delegate assembly.
- Scott Hartman, MC USA director of Event Planning, provided the EB with an update on MennoCon21, the denomination’s biennial convention, to be held July 6-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He noted that Ohio has lifted its capacity limits for gatherings but is still observing all CDC guidelines, such as social distancing and mask wearing. Recognizing that some people may not feel comfortable attending in person, Hartman said he was able to minimize the denomination’s financial exposure by negotiating reduced attrition rates at the convention center and both hotels from 70% to 50% and by lowering contracted food and beverage minimum requirements by 50%.
- A special task group of the EB reported on its periodic agency performance review of Everence. Kenneth Hochstetler, president and CEO of Everence, discussed the agency’s performance and unique relationship with MC USA. He highlighted Everence’s strides in diversity and inclusion over the past six years and the agency’s charitable focus, noting that Everence provides $50-$60 million in annual sustenance to churches and nonprofits. EB member Todd Lehman, who was on the review committee, said, “I learned a lot through this review process, and the one thing that really stands out for me is how much Everence values its relationship with MC USA, even though it’s striving to serve all Anabaptist communities across the US.”
The next EB meeting will be held via videoconference on July 8, from 1:30- 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 530 congregations and 62,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 58 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org