Salford leader to chair MCUSA structure committee

by Mennonite Church USA staff 

Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board (EB) met Sept. 25–27 in Kansas City, Missouri, focusing on questions of denominational structure, data from a survey of credentialed leaders, and various other topics in preparation for next summer’s Delegate Assembly in Kansas City.

Mennonite Church USA executive board members at their June 2014 meeting.
Mennonite Church USA executive board members at their June 2014 meeting.  Joy Sutter (back row, second from left) is a member of Salford congregation.

EB members appointed an ad hoc committee to explore possibilities for new denominational structures, and are intending to bring an action to the Delegate Assembly at Kansas City 2015 (June 30–July 5).

Joy Sutter, EB member from Salford congregation, will chair the group. The EB also appointed the following board and Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) members to the committee: Isaac Villegas, EB member and pastor of Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Mennonite Fellowship; Katherine Jameson Pitts, conference minister for Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, Portland, Oregon; and Keith Weaver, executive conference minister of Lancaster Mennonite Conference. One more committee member is yet to be appointed. The impetus for forming this committee grew out of feedback received at the March 2014 CLC meetings held in North Newton, Kansas.

The committee has begun to prepare questions for exploration at the Oct. 6–8 CLC meetings in Schiller Park, Illinois. The questions will invite CLC participants to reflect on the ways in which denominational agencies add value to the work of area conferences and congregations and to identify the denominational services that are most essential. CLC participants will also be invited to dream about what a new denominational structure might look like and to assess the benefits and drawbacks of potential new forms.

The committee will plan to bring an action before delegates at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City, that will include CLC feedback, data from the recent churchwide survey of credentialed leaders, and responses to a survey of Mennonite Church USA delegates planned for early 2015.

Additionally, the EB reviewed an initial report from a summer survey of credentialed leaders across Mennonite Church USA that asked respondents to reflect on questions regarding Mennonite Church USA organizational structure, LGBTQ inclusion and the sense of belonging they felt to area conferences and the denomination. The board affirmed staff recommendations to conduct a survey of Mennonite Church USA delegates in early 2015, as well as to organize a promotional campaign inviting Mennonite Church USA congregations to identify their delegates this fall.

The EB also  commended a list of resources on same-gender sexuality for study across the denomination. The resource list represents a spectrum of perspectives and is meant to encourage dialogue and understanding among diverse groups.

The board spent time in worship and prayer, asking and listening for God’s spirit to move among them. Several board members took turns leading devotions focused on Luke 24, the theme text for the Kansas City 2015 convention.