Sept. 15–17, 2013 | New York City and Camp Deerpark [Español]
The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA gathered at Camp Deerpark in Westbrookville, N.Y., on Saturday, Sept. 14, for dinner. The next morning they traveled to New York City to worship with Infinity Mennonite Church in Harlem. Infinity provided lunch and a time for board members to visit with congregational members.
The board meetings began after lunch on Sunday, Sept. 15, with a meeting of the leaders of Infinity Mennonite. They shared about their Phoenix 2013 convention experiences. This congregation has given birth to three important social programs: Man Up, Groundswell and My Brother’s Keeper My Sister’s Keeper. All three need funding and they are exploring ways to connect and increase funding.
Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, moderator, opened the meeting by welcoming the five new board members. Minutes were reviewed and approved before the board moved to discussing their policies regarding press in their meetings. Executive Board meetings are open meetings, but will have closed sessions if there are sensitive agenda items.
The board spent time reviewing the Phoenix Convention. There was great appreciation for the wonderful worship, many workshops and activities. Several board members commented they’d like to see more diversity among the youth. There was appreciation for the way Richard Thomas responded to the Pink Menno presence during the delegate sessions. Being able to participate in the delegate sessions, through the live feed, was appreciated.
Executive Director Ervin Stutzman shared about his report and highlighted several areas for further conversation. Board members divided into groups to discuss issues raised in the report. Some of these issues will need board action in a future meeting.
On Monday morning, Sept. 16, the meeting opened at Camp Deerpark with worship led by Larry Hauder and Nancy Heisey. Board members were invited to share their favorite Bible passages.
Dick Thomas, past moderator, led the board in a review and conversation about Policy Governance. Recently the Executive Board updated all of the policies to reflect current practices.
Components of a healthy board functioning:
- Fiduciary model – provide stewardship of assets
- Strategic model – create a strategic partnership with management
- Generative model – provide leadership
What is the role of the board? Establish policies, monitor the work of the staff, lead the church, looking forward (future thinking), connect with owners and think about the whole of Mennonite Church USA.
The financial reports were reviewed by the Executive Board. There was a call for more information about the overall financial picture of Mennonite Church USA.
At the Delegate Assembly in Phoenix, the delegates asked that the statement on immigration be updated. Tina Stoltzfus Schlabach, along with a committee, gave leadership to writing an updated draft statement. The committee is asking for feedback from the Executive Board, which board members provided. The draft is also being tested with Iglesia Menonita Hispana and the Constituency Leaders Council.
Executive Director Ervin Stutzman shared a list of discernment and action items for the 2013–2015 biennium. The list includes policy governance issues, covenants with area conferences, stewardship, church-to-church relations, connection with stakeholders, convention issues, fiscal oversight, updates to the Purposeful Plan, and follow-up to the Phoenix 2013 resolutions.
The churchwide CEOs joined the Executive Board in preparation for the Governance Council meeting to be held the next day.
On Tuesday morning, Sept. 17, the Governance Council joined the Executive Board for a joint meeting. The Governance Council includes the board chairs and CEOs of the churchwide ministries. In this biennium, there are four new board chairs. Additionally there was acknowledgement of the increased number of female board chairs this biennium.
The group was divided into smaller groups to work on the priorities in the Purposeful Plan (10-year plan for Mennonite Church USA). Each group shared ways their organization is participating in the churchwide priorities. Additionally, the Governance Council and the Executive Board worked on the covenants with each of the churchwide ministries.
Upcoming board meeting dates and locations were confirmed:
- Feb 13–15, 2014, in Harrisonburg, Va.
- June 26–28, 2014, in Chicago, Ill.
- Sept. 25–27, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.
—Summary by Marty Lehman
Associate Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA
Sept. 18, 2013