Several leaders from Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and staff attended the Mosaic Mennonite Conference assembly at Souderton (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Church, Pennsylvania, on Nov.5, 2022, where delegates voted 81.5% in favor of initiating a two-year strategic planning process.
MC USA Executive Director Glen Guyton from San Antonio, Texas, Moderator-elect Jon Carlson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Chief Communication Officer Camille Dager, a Mosaic member from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, joined conference delegates for worship, communion, prayer, business sessions and fellowship.
“I value the many wonderful relationships I have built over the years with leaders and members of Mosaic Mennonite Conference,” said Guyton. “As part of MC USA, they have been deeply involved in all aspects of our denominational life, and I hope that continues.”
At the invitation of Mosaic’s Executive Minister Stephen Kriss, Guyton led a prayer for Angela Moyer Walter, the conference’s incoming moderator, and Roy Williams, incoming assistant moderator. Both roles are effective as of January 1, 2023.
Moyer Walter is a bi-vocational pastor at Ripple congregation in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and currently serves as assistant moderator.
Williams has served as the pastor of College Hill Mennonite Church, Tampa, Florida, for the past 30 years, and serves on the conference board as chair of Mosaic’s Intercultural Committee.
Guyton and Carlson also volunteered to address questions from delegates during one of several business sessions. They provided clarity around membership in MC USA and Mennonite World Conference, as well as the function of the Constituency Leaders Council.
“Trusting God’s Spirit to lead us as we discern together takes courage and vulnerability, and I’m inspired to see Mennonite Church USA and our area conferences, like Mosaic, continue in this vital work together,” said Carlson.
In the final business session of the day, delegates used a three-way vote (affirm, affirm with reservations, do not affirm) to adopt “A Pathway Toward Shaping Our Future Together for Mosaic Mennonite Conference Delegates.” The action plan initiates a two-year strategic planning process to “set a pathway within our priorities, to clarify [Mosaic’s] relationships with each other, other Anabaptist communities and MC USA.”
The Pathway’s plan also included a change to Mosaic’s bylaws that says, “the board authorizes congregations to determine their membership status within MC USA.” Supporting documents cited Ohio Mennonite Conference and South Central Conference as setting a precedent for this in their polity.
However, according to MC USA bylaws, the members of MC USA are its conferences, not congregations. Congregations derive benefits through their conference affiliation. Congregations that choose to unaffiliate from the denomination still have derived membership in MC USA. They are free to use the services and resources of MC USA, such as the Ministerial Leadership Credentialing system and The Corinthian Plan insurance for pastors and church workers, as long as they are a member in good standing in their conference.
During the earlier question-and-answer session, Williams asked for clarity around participation on MC USA agency boards. For example, could someone continue to serve on an agency board if their home congregation suspended its membership in MC USA?
Kriss said, “If your congregation discerns to suspend its membership in MC USA … I would discourage you from being able to serve as a delegate at an MC USA gathering or as an MC USA representative on any agency board. That is fair.”
The Pathways document is built on the work of Mosaic’s Listening Task Force, put in place to listen to congregational feedback following the MC USA Special Session of the Delegate Assembly, Kansas City, May 27-30, 2022. The document incorporated Mosaic staff input and was affirmed by the Mosaic board.
Mosaic leadership set the tone for the meeting with the theme, “Chesed,” a Hebrew term that refers to God’s love for humanity and love between people. In his opening sermon, Kriss said, “This is our invitation to extend God’s love so that all people may praise God together – and that this steadfast love might become healing and hope for the world and for each of us.”
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 540 congregations and 56,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org
By Camille Dager for MC USA staff