From the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA
Feb. 2, 2016
The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA has appointed Ervin R. Stutzman of Harrisonburg, Virginia, to a third three-year term as executive director of Mennonite Church USA. The new term began Jan. 1, 2016. The appointment was made at a Jan. 26 board conference call following a review this past fall that solicited input from executive conference ministers, area conference moderators, CEOS of churchwide agencies, and members of the Cabinet and the Executive Board.
Overall, the results of the work review were overwhelmingly positive, with great appreciation expressed for Ervin’s work as executive director during a very difficult season in church life. There was significant affirmation for his non-anxious style of leadership and his ability to listen well and engage people with differing perspectives across the whole church. Conference leaders commended him for being present in area conference meetings across the country and for “the many, many personal contacts he makes broadly across Mennonite Church USA.” Strong appreciation was expressed for his ongoing work with the Purposeful Plan, which continues to give focus to the mission/vision of Mennonite Church USA.
Many respondents noted that while the past two years have brought turbulent times to our church, Ervin has brought a deep faith, a humble spirit and patience in a context of much ambiguity. Faced with what one person called an “impossible task,” Ervin has given steady leadership in stressful times. There was affirmation for his extensive travels across the country as he engaged in conversation with delegates and conference leaders in preparation for the Kansas City 2015 delegate sessions.
Others commented that he has assembled a strong, highly motivated national staff and has done impressive work with fund-raising. Persons see Ervin as bringing great spiritual depth, an optimistic spirit and winsome pastoral presence to his work, as well as a deep faith in the Holy Spirit’s leading of the church. He combines strong executive skills with a willingness to engage co-workers in a collaborative and consultative way.
During his third term, Ervin will continue to work with his team on the 2015–17 goals in the Purposeful Plan, reviewed with delegates at the Kansas City Assembly. These goals reflect the seven priorities of Mennonite Church USA: Christian Formation, Christian Community, Holistic Christian Witness, Leadership Development, Undoing Racism and Advancing Intercultural Transformation, and Church-to-Church Relationships. He will also work with the board to update the whole Purposeful Plan for significant discussion by the delegates at Orlando 2017.
In addition, Ervin will give leadership to a renewed emphasis on planting new churches and revitalizing existing congregations in our denomination as we turn our faces toward the future into which God is leading us. He is also leading the board and staff, together with leaders of our churchwide agencies, through long-term planning for our denomination.
Moderator Patricia Shelly of Newton, Kansas, stated, “It is clear from this work review of Ervin Stutzman that there is widespread appreciation for Ervin’s strong executive and pastoral leadership at a very difficult and rapidly changing time in the life of our denomination. There was a ringing endorsement for his continued leadership of Mennonite Church USA and affirmation for a third term as executive director. The board was unanimous in appointing Ervin to a third three-year term as executive director, beginning Jan. 1, 2016. We invite your continued prayers for Ervin as he begins this third term, and your prayers for the national staff team and the Executive Board as we continue to lead the whole church in seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”