Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) Executive Board staff has posted the new “Guidelines for Developing Organizational Resolutions and Church Statements in Mennonite Church USA” on the MC USA website.
The guidelines are effective immediately and apply to proposed organizational resolutions or church statements submitted for consideration by the 2023 Delegate Assembly (Kansas City, Missouri, July 7-8, 2023).
Any MC USA conference, congregation or constituency group may submit a resolution. The deadline for submitting resolutions for the 2023 Delegate Assembly is Jan. 9, 2023. Resolutions should be sent to the Resolutions Committee via the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA using firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderator-Elect Jon Carlson, chair of the Resolutions Committee, presented the guidelines at the Constituency Leaders Council Zoom meeting on October 21-22, 2022.
He said that the updated guidelines clarify the distinction between organizational resolutions and churchwide statements.
“Part of the goal of this is to drive more honest conversations about how power works and where power resides within our structure,” said Carlson, “so that we can be clear what authority delegates actually have and how can they best exercise the authority that they’ve been given.”
Carlson also said that the new guidelines use more creative and nuanced processes for churchwide statements, such as gradients of agreement.
“I would hope that this kind of framework helps us to internalize … a bit more,” Carlson said to the CLC. “The act of writing down words and voting on them is not actually how God’s Kingdom breaks into this world. It’s through how we engage with our neighbors and with one another. The hope is that [this new process] puts less emphasis on the outcome of a specific resolution – the wording of the parliamentary procedure – and puts much more emphasis on the outcome of how we are living out our values together as Mennonite Church USA.”
The new guidelines also do not include a category for study resolutions. Instead, the new process requires writers to incorporate church impact statements, budget estimates, resources and educational materials in their proposed resolutions to help congregations and delegates study and talk about them as part of their discernment prior to the Delegate Assembly.
The new guidelines for the 2023 Delegate Assembly were written by the Resolutions Committee and unanimously adopted by the Executive Board at its meeting on Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2022. The Executive Board also voted to extend the prescribed deadline for this assembly cycle to allow members time to adapt their submissions to the new guidelines. For future cycles, writers will need to submit resolutions and church statements 240 days before the start of the Delegate Assembly.
“The resolutions process is not well defined in our bylaws,” Carlson explained to the CLC. “It’s a process that is periodically reinvented and always in a state of evaluation. The Executive Board [requested that] the current Resolutions Committee look at our resolutions process and ask whether it’s serving the church.”
The Resolutions Committee members are Sarah Bixler, Jon Carlson (chair), Bonita Croyle, John Goshow and Rosetta Landis.
To date, the MC USA Delegate Assembly has passed 29 church statements and resolutions. Some of these have resulted in significant, positive denominational changes, such as the “Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse” and the “Resolution on Healthcare Access.” Others have inspired the work of the Executive Board staff, conferences and congregations, such as the “Church Statement on Immigration” and the “Creation Care Resolution for Mennonite Church USA,” to name a few.
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
Written by MC USA staff.