Mennonite Church USA announces Executive Director search committee

By Marathana Prothro, Mennonite Church USA

The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board has named its search committee to find a replacement for executive director Jim Schrag. In October 2008, Schrag announced his plans for retirement in November 2009.

Moderator-elect Ed Diller of Cincinnati, Ohio, will chair the nine-person committee, which plans to start work immediately. Committee members include Glen Guyton of Yorktown, Va.; Charlotte Hardt of Mount Vernon, Wash.; Sue Miller of Middlebury, Ind.; Juanita Nuñez of Ocoee, Fla.; Patty Shelly of Newton, Kan.; David Sutter of South Bend, Ind.; J. Richard Thomas of Lancaster, Pa.; and Keith Weaver of Reinholds, Pa. Moderator Sharon Waltner of Parker, S.D., will be an ex officio committee member and join the group as necessary.

All committee members are actively engaged with Mennonite Church USA and are committed to its mission and vision, Diller said. The committee includes Executive Board members as well as others from across Mennonite Church USA. The board intentionally sought a breadth of knowledge and expertise to bring valuable perspectives to the table. Of the nine committee members: five are pastors; three are business people; two are academics; three are strongly connected to area conferences; and two are Racial/Ethnic people.

“Our committee believes the new executive director must be able to lead and strengthen the ministry and witness of our church as we strive to be the church God wants us to become,” Diller said. “I anticipate this process will take on a sense of patient urgency as we are highly committed to finding the right person for the job, but also want to avoid a gap in leadership.”

Staff and board members expect the process to take between six and eight months to complete. The committee will begin its work immediately and will meet or otherwise communicate frequently until a new executive director is named, Diller said.

The Executive Board’s executive committee currently is developing guidelines and parameters to assist the search committee in its work. One of the first tasks in the process will be for the Executive Board and the search committee to develop an appropriate executive director job description. Diller said this will be done with broad consultation from across Mennonite Church USA, including input from Executive Leadership, agencies and conferences.

“It’s already become evident that we’re looking for a person who will be a spiritual and missional leader for the denomination and someone with enthusiasm and drive who can build relationships and trust — both between individuals and within our churchwide system,” Diller said.

As updated information on the search process is available to be made public, it will be shared with churchwide staff, area conferences and Mennonite news outlets.