Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, met with Franconia and Eastern District Conference members on May 28 at Zion Mennonite Church. The meeting aimed to educate attendees on the MC USA structure and what is happening in the denomination, along with preparing delegates for the upcoming Convention.
“We are gathered this evening to know what it means to be delegates at Kansas City this summer,” Stutzman said.
About one-fifth of the 68 attendees to the meeting were first time delegates. Stutzman reminded delegates their role includes prayer, open discussion, and discernment regarding resolutions. A delegate job description can be found on the MC USA website.
One of the responsibilities of the delegates at the 2015 Convention, Stutzman pointed out, will be discerning what a “majority” is when approving resolutions. Previously, this has been 51 percent of delegates. MC USA is suggesting using a two-thirds majority approach. Delegates will be given time to discern what approach they would like to use prior to voting on the resolutions at Convention.
Mike Derstine of Plains Mennonite Church said, “The Purposeful Plan was helpful to see exactly what they’re doing and to hear [Stutzman’s] desire to help the church focus on our common strengths and common vision.”
The Purposeful Plan contains the “seven priorities” of the MC USA Executive Board. Page 20 starts a list of the priorities and displays specific goals intended to fulfill them.
Stutzman reviewed the five Resolutions last. The first three resolutions were addressed individually: Israel-Palestine Resolution, Faithful Witness Amid Endless War Resolution, and the Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse. The other two resolutions relate to one another and therefore were talked about together. Those resolutions being the Resolution on the Status of the Membership Guidelines, and Resolution on Forbearance in the Midst of Difference.
The Membership Guidelines were reviewed before assessing the resolution regarding them. Number 3, 4, and 5 of Part I of the Guidelines were highlighted to show the relationships of authority between congregations, conferences, and MC USA. Stutzman made note that this is important to remember when considering the resolutions on the guidelines and the resolution regarding forbearance.
Stutzman also noted that Part III of the Membership Guidelines was added in 2001 and reviewed why and how it was added. He spoke of this section of the Guidelines being reviewed with the resolution as there is continued tension around the content of Part III.