By MC USA staff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Mennonite Church USA) — The Executive Board (EB) of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) held its first meeting of the decade on Jan. 17-18, 2020, in Kansas City. Key agenda items included revisions to the church’s resolution policy, updates to the EB’s media policy, discernment about the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group’s report and an overview of the budget and year-end giving. The EB also participated in board development training.
The EB voted unanimously to raise the submission requirements for Delegate Assembly in its “Developing Resolutions for Mennonite Church USA.” policy. The revised guidelines will extend the lead time for submitting resolutions from six months to eight months ahead of the Delegate Assembly. In addition, “last minute” submissions now will require a total of 40 delegate signatures from at least four different conferences. The previous policy required 30 signatures from three conferences.
“These changes will allow more time for church-wide discernment and greater opportunity for strong denominational support of resolutions,” said Joy Sutter, EB moderator.
Linda Dibble, EB moderator-elect, presented proposed revisions to the Policies of the Executive Board, most notably adapting the EB’s media policy to reflect the upcoming transition of The Mennonite from a denominational medium to an external news agency, pending its merger with Mennonite World Review by September 1, 2020.
The EB also spent time in discussion around the written report from the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group’s one-time work session in November 2019. The report outlined several nonbinding recommendations and process ideas for continuing the churchwide discussion on the Membership Guidelines, including a recommendation to retire the Membership Guidelines, which had strong support across the ideological spectrum of participants. (For more information, see MC USA’s news release.)
“The Executive Board deeply appreciates and respects the work of the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group, and we are committed to continuing our ongoing discernment regarding the Membership Guidelines,” said Sutter. As a next step, the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) will provide feedback to the EB after engaging the report during the CLC’s meeting on March 26-28, 2020, in Kansas City.
In his report to the EB, Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA, presented key highlights of 2019, including:
- Total 2019 year-end giving to the EB was up by $20,000, an increase of 47% with a 19% increase in
participation compared to 2018.
- The total convention deficit was only $9,283 – significantly lower than the $112,000 loss initially calculated.
- Three new staff members were added in Communications and the Archives
- A new website is in development
- The denomination’s new weekly e-newsletter, PeaceMail, has been well received.
- Archives is giving voice to young people through its Oral History project.
- Women in Leadership met in October and is planning two events for 2020.
- Church Vitality updated the Ministerial Leadership Inquiry forms, offered a webinar series to equip congregational leaders with tools for thought leadership and co-sponsored a learning tour for the CLC on immigration justice in Tucson, Arizona.
- The Corinthian Plan continues to hold a strong financial position.
Duane Oswald, an expert in Mennonite church leadership with more than 30 years of service on the conference, agency and national church level, led a session on board development. The purpose of the training was to provide insights for optimal board leadership and help the EB clearly define its role and responsibilities, especially in the area of policy governance.
“Duane did a great job of reminding us of how high functioning boards work and how we can improve policy governance,” said Sutter. “As we continue to enter difficult conversations, we need to ask, ‘What is our role?’ ‘What is the vision and mission of MC USA in light of these discussions?’ and ‘How do the mission and vision impact effective policy governance and decision-making?’”
The next EB meeting is scheduled for April 23-25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 17 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 86 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org