Tag Archives: Constituency Leaders Council

Representing Conference in National Conversations

by Mary Nitzsche, Associate Executive Minister

Angela Moyer, assistant moderator, Danilo Sanchez, Youth Formation Pastor, and I represented Franconia Mennonite Conference at the biannual Constituency Leadership Council (CLC) February 28-March 2. Others attending from Franconia Conference included Joy Sutter, Moderator Elect of Mennonite Church USA, and Buddy Hannanto, representing the Indonesian Mennonite Association.

(L to R) Buddy Hannanto, Mary Nitzsche, Danilo Sanchez, Joy Sutter and Angela Moyer.

The CLC is comprised of representatives from each area conference, churchwide program agency, and constituent group. While not a decision-making body, CLC serves as a forum for discernment, conversation, and networking. This group of 50-60 persons function as denominational elders offering counsel to the Executive Board on issues of faith, life and churchwide statements. Glen Guyton, Executive Director of MC USA, emphasized CLC’s importance, acknowledging that our “concerns are heard and taken seriously.”

An emphasis of CLC is building relationships of trust among executive board representatives, conferences, racial/ethnic groups, and churchwide program agency leaders. Sitting around tables, sharing personal and ministry stories, worshipping and sharing communion, eating meals together, discussing important matters of our common life, and playing group games remind us of the covenant we hold—to be the presence of Christ and share in Christ’s reconciling mission with each other and in our communities and places of ministry.

Angela Moyer commented that, “attending CLC helped me learn to know our new denominational leaders. God has given us a gift in these leaders, who have passion for God and the church, and a vision for our denomination.”

Lively, yet respectful, conversations centered around two key issues: a review of the MC USA membership guidelines and an update of the potential merger of The Mennonite and Mennonite World Review (a decision delayed last fall to process the concerns raised by CLC).

Barth Hague, chair of The Mennonite’s board, gave a brief update to inform CLC of the recent decision to resume the merger process.

The membership guidelines, which were implemented in 2001 and reviewed in 2013 and 2015, are once again an issue for the MC USA delegate body to consider at MennoCon19 in Kansas City this summer. Eight recommendations for the Executive Board’s consideration were discerned around eight table groups utilizing the “Six Thinking Hats” approach to decision-making. This approach provided opportunity to depart from a predictable pattern of debate. Instead, the guidelines were processed from six different perspectives: neutral, optimistic, critical, emotional, innovative, and process oriented. I found this process helpful since everyone at the table was speaking from the same perspective for an allotted time, allowing us to shape a unified recommendation. In Danilo’s words, “Even though there were disagreements around the table, everyone was respected and valued.”

Angela, Danilo, and I were honored to serve as Franconia Conference representatives at CLC. Danilo summarized our shared experience and reflections well, “Throughout our meetings, it was evident that every pastor and leader who attended CLC loves the church and loves Jesus. Through CLC, I gained a trust and confidence in our denominational leadership. I believe their desire is for MC USA to be faithful followers of Jesus and to be an Anabaptist witness to the world.”

Mennonite Church USA releases video resources on leadership and polity

Joy Sutter, MC USA moderator-elect, hails from Salford Mennonite Church.

(Mennonite Church USA) — People across Mennonite Church USA are invited to take a closer look at the denomination’s structure and healthy ways of functioning with a newly released video series featuring presentations by Michael Danner, associate executive director for Church Vitality and Engagement, David Boshart, MC USA moderator, and Joy Sutter (from Salford congregation), MC USA moderator-elect. Each speaker focuses on different topics for how leaders can understand MC USA polity and engage with one another in healthy and meaningful ways.

“I would highly encourage our church leaders, pastors and board members to watch this videos series,” said Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA. “For a people who promote simple living, we sure developed a complex way of relating to each other. Michael, Dave, and Joy do an excellent job of pulling back the veil in these videos on how the parts of MC USA work.”

MC USA polity, or organizational way of functioning, developed through the 2002 merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, and this video tool aims to clarify elements of its polity as MC USA faces shifts in membership and questions of how to respond to disagreement.

In the video series, Danner poses several questions for leaders within MC USA, including how to focus on finding a “sweet spot” of involvement. “Given my roles within the structure, what am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for?” he asks.

“Polity is not the most important thing that the church does,” Boshart says in his presentation. “But a good, functional polity will make our life more predictable, enabling us to know what we can expect of one another, and that contributes to a stronger base.”

Sutter’s presentation addresses the function of the Executive Board, the 14-member volunteer board that guides the denomination and is accountable to congregational and area conference delegates, and the function of the Constituency Leaders Council, a group consisting of Executive Board representatives, area conference leaders, constituency group representatives and agency and Executive Board staff that meets semiannually to listen, discern and advise the denomination on issues facing the church. Sutter reviews how each is responsible for contributing to positive functioning for MC USA.

The video series is available in three sessions on MC USA’s YouTube channel, and leaders are invited to watch and share them widely.

“The denomination is here to serve you. Accessing the power and benefits in our system should not be a secret,” said Guyton. “Learn where the power and authority lies in our system, so that you understand how to successfully navigate MC USA and tap into its resources and global network. These videos are a great resource for those seeking to change the church, engage the church or support the church in meaningful and lasting ways.”

Watch the videos.