Mennonite Leaders Meet in Colorado

4a.jpgThe Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) of Mennonite Church USA Colorado Springs, Colo. The Constituency Leaders Council met in October. The Constituency Leaders Council is made up of denominational leaders whose task is to help discern with and advise the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA, the biennial convention and the broader church on issues related to the faith and life of the church.

The Constituency Leaders Council, which meets twice a year, is composed of three representatives from each of the 21 area conferences of Mennonite Church USA (including Franconia Conference); and two representatives from the recognized constituency groups (currently these include the
African American Mennonite Association, Iglesia Menonita Hispana, Native Mennonite Ministries, Mennonite Women and Mennonite Men). Ed Diller of Cinncinati, Ohio, is the denominational moderator-elect and chairs the group. Franconia Conference representatives who attended the meeting included Noel Santiago, Executive Minister; Blaine Detwiler, Moderator-Elect; and Gay Brunt Miller, Director of Collaborative Ministries. Miller is also currently serving as the vice chair of the Constituency Leaders Council.

4a.jpgParticipants at the meeting worshiped together and also discussed a number of issues. One area of concern was the gender and racial-ethnic composition of the group; Mennonite Church USA has called the church to recognize the gifts of all people within the church but women accounted for only 20 percent of the attendees at this meeting. The highest percentage of women attending a Constituency Leaders Council gathering was 38 percent in 2005, and most church-related agencies and organizations seek an equal ratio of men and women.

Another agenda item was the formation of a task group to work at issues of racism and recommend concrete actions that the Constituency Leaders Council can take. The Constituency Leaders Council wants to address the hurt and isolation experienced by many churches of color, as well as identify ways in which to help the broader church understand that experience and the role the church has played in it.

The Constituency Leaders Council discussed the Resolution on National Identity which was adopted by delegates at San Jose 2007 this past summerand called for a response from the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board. Delegates at San Jose expressed a desire for guidance as they consider consider both the promise and peril of living faithfully as Christians in the United States. They asked the Executive Board to help congregations explore what it means to live as Mennonites in the wealthiest most powerful nation in the world. The Executive Board requested input from the Constituency Leaders Council which recommended, among other things, that the Mennonite Church in the United States listen to the counsel of Mennonites around the world as it undertakes this issue.

Delegates at San Jose also asked the Executive Board to develop and implement a plan for congregations in Mennonite Church USA to participate in providing basic health insurance for all pastors. The Constituency Leaders Council discussed next steps to be taken in this process.

The Constituency Leaders Council also took time to discuss conference structuring, examining how conferences and churches relate to each other and to Mennonite Church USA.

The next meeting of the Constituency Leaders Council will be held at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, Mt. Pleasant, Pa. in the spring of 2008.

For more information please see the CLC Meeting Highlights.