(Mennonite Church USA) — Members of Mennonite Church (MC) USA Executive Board organized a retirement program and reception to recognize and thank Ervin Stutzman for his service to the denomination on Friday, April 13, at the joint meetings of the Executive Board and Constituency Leaders Council at Dock Mennonite Academy, Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Members of the public also attended.
The ceremony, led by EB member Diane Zaerr Brenneman, began with a slideshow displaying photos and comments collected from people across MC USA expressing gratitude to Stutzman. Comments described Stutzman’s devotion to the church, his energy and generosity of spirit, among other attributes he brought to the position.
A quartet, led by Bradley Kauffman, sang some of Stutzman’s favorite hymns and shared a parody of the hymn “My Life Flows On” rewritten with the words “How can we thank you Ervin?” Members for the EB staff Cabinet shared stories about their time working closely with Stutzman.
“I’ve always admired his energy, discipline and organization,” said Shelley Buller, who has served as executive assistant during Stutzman’s entire eight-year tenure. “I thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow and wish you God’s blessing for the future.”
Stanley Green, executive director of Mennonite Mission Network, offered remarks on behalf of MC USA agency leaders.
“My dear brother Ervin, I’ve never doubted your passion for the church, your love for its people and your commitment to healing and hope,” said Green. “I was truly grateful that your service and ours was enhanced by your extensive relationships throughout the church.”
Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, also offered remarks of gratitude to Stutzman.
“Ervin has been a leader who has a deep respect for others and an abiding respect for the church,” said Metzger.
On behalf of the EB, Moderator David Boshart offered a gift certificate to Stutzman and his wife Bonnie to the John C. Campbell Folk School, where they can pursue their respective art practices together.
The ceremony ended as the gathered crowd held hands toward Ervin and Bonnie to offer prayers and blessings for their next steps in life. A reception followed.
“When I look back, I will remember the people of MC USA who came together in communities of grace, joy and peace so that God’s healing and hope can flow through them to the world,” said Stutzman.
Stutzman’s term will end on April 30. He presented his reflections on his tenure in remarks to the EB and CLC on April 12, as well as in a Menno Snapshots blog post, “Reflections on unity for MC USA.”
“I’m retiring with great confidence that Glen Guyton will serve with excellence as the new executive director. I wish him the very best in the years ahead,” he said.