Tag Archives: Glen Guyton

Looking Ahead to Convention

Photo courtesy of MC USA

It is time once again for our biennial Delegate Assembly, scheduled for July 2-6 in Kansas City. The Delegate Assembly provides the opportunity for our MC USA family to assemble for worship, fellowship, prophecy, relationship building, understanding and deepening our commitment to Christ and each other. In 2019 we will focus on equipping our church leaders for mission while we discuss major issues of policy and discern next steps for the national conference. It is important that the voice of our constituency be heard as we gather together from all parts of the church. The Delegate Assembly is your opportunity to not only speak to the establishment of general policies and the development of programs to carry out those policies. But it is an opportunity for you to connect with and listen to the various members in our great and diverse denomination.  Come see and hear what is next for MC USA. Join in helping our denomination live into its call. Meet Mennonites from all over the United States and learn how they are living into the commitments of the Journey Forward process.

Select your delegates now!  Refer to the Information for Delegates to learn about the delegate selection process and registration.

Photo courtesy of MC USA

Other materials for the delegate assembly will be posted on this webpage as they become available. 

In addition to delegate business, the delegate session at Menno-Con 19 will be featuring a teaching session each day with Tom Yoder Neufeld.  Tom is Professor Emeritus from the University of Waterloo.  He is the author of the commentary on Ephesians part of The Believers Church Bible Commentary series.  The delegate session will also feature stories from congregations across our denomination that give life to our Renewed Commitments from the Journey Forward.

I hope to see you in Kansas City this summer.

Glen Guyton, Executive Director
Mennonite Church USA

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.

Renewed Commitments Document Released

Based on the outcomes of the Future Church Summit in Orlando 2017, the Journey Forward process began. Mennonite Church USA  executive director-to-be Glen Guyton says this process, “fulfills a promise to engage the denomination and give voice to the members of MC USA as they live out the mission of the church in their context.” Birthed from this process, a draft document Renewed Commitments for MC USA has been released by MC USA. The Renewed Commitments document, along with a study guide, will be sent to all congregations on June 1.  Read more about the document release in The Mennonite, or see the Journey Forward FAQ here.

God’s love has no borders

Ervin R. Stutzman, executive director, Mennonite Church USA
June 2010

In the last few weeks, debates about immigration have flared up all across the United States. The passage of the SB 1070 immigration law in Arizona has prompted other states to consider similar measures to control immigration. In response to the strong feelings across the nation, President Obama recently took action to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico. I grieve that these actions deeply affect my brothers and sisters in the congregations of Iglesia Menonita Hispana, a valued part of Mennonite Church USA. I have been hearing stories from congregations that are losing many beloved members because of pressure from the government.

As a church leader, I rely on our denomination’s 2003 statement on immigration to guide my response to this situation. Also, the following words from hymn 374 in Hymnal: Worship Book, (a Mennonite Church USA English hymnbook) echo my own prayer for Mennonite Church USA and our nation: “Forbid false love of country, that blinds us to your call, who lifts above the nations the unity of all. Create in us the splendor that dawns when hearts are kind, that knows no race nor station as bound’ries of the mind; that learns to value beauty, in heart, or mind, or soul, and longs to bind God’s children into one perfect whole.”

The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA recently voted to use money from the building campaign for Racial/Ethnic groups, including Hispanics. We will designate 10 percent of any money coming to our office building fund after the ground blessing, which took place on June 15. This money can be used for immigration concerns, education, or help with church facilities.

Currently, we have plans to meet in Phoenix, Ariz., for the 2013 convention of Mennonite Church USA. Because of the new law in Arizona, we are reconsidering this choice.

Glen Guyton, associate executive director of constituent resources, guides intercultural relations in our national conference. Glen has prepared the following announcement about the decision to be made:

Mennonite Church USA is very concerned about what is happening in the state of Arizona and the precedent it may set for other states. A just and humane immigration policy is needed in our nation and the passage of Arizona SB1070 may be a tipping point in our country. Only God knows which way our country will lean.

The question on the minds of many in the Hispanic community is, “Why hasn’t Mennonite Church USA made a decision to move the 2013 convention to another city?” To many of our Hispanic brothers and sisters, the decision is easy: “Don’t go to Phoenix, because we will not go. We do not feel safe.” Iglesia Menonita Hispana (IMH) has made its position clear, and the leadership of the church has heard the message. While we truly have love, respect and empathy for the Hispanic members of our church family, there are several reasons why the church has chosen to take some time to make a decision about the location.

1. Exposure to all Mennonite Church USA members. We believe the issue of immigration is far greater than the location of our 2013 churchwide convention. This decision will provide an opportunity to bring immigration to the forefront of our church. For many years, Mennonite churches in Arizona and in our Hispanic
communities have been dealing with immigration issues. Our Hispanic churches are losing members in great numbers because of the poor economy and the changing political climate. Deciding on a convention location will expose the
broader church to the negative effects of current U.S. immigration policy and the proposed Arizona law, which many feel will lead to racial profiling.

2. Discussion and discernment. Because this decision affects our entire church family, it requires discussion and discernment by leaders all across the church. A gathering called the Leaders Forum had already been planned for September 2010, and now the 2013 convention location will be a central topic of discussion and discernment. Nearly 250 leaders from conferences, agencies and Racial/Ethnic constituency groups will be involved. When we gather together face?to?face in worship and prayer to discuss things as Christian sisters and brothers, a clarity often comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to hear the hurts, fears, hopes and dreams of all who will be affected by the passage of this law in Arizona. The leadership of the church feels that using the next few months to discern and discuss immigration, the new Arizona law, and
the historical circumstances surrounding the passage of SB1070 will ultimately facilitate a sense of synergy around the final decision. It is important that we understand “why” when the final decision is announced.

3. Contracts. While some want a quick decision to send a message to the state of Arizona, the financial impact of staying in or leaving Phoenix will not be affected by a few months. The 2013 convention is more than three years away. Making an announcement now will not benefit our Hispanic community any more than
making an announcement in early 2011. A formal announcement would trigger contractual obligations, numerous inquires, and limit the ability of our staff to negotiate with the various entities involved. There is not just one contract to cancel, but multiple contracts that would need to be changed. The liquidated damages of canceling these contracts could possibly exceed $500,000. In addition, at least 10 other states are considering legislation similar to Arizona’s. In some ways, announcing a decision too early could be reckless. It is not as simple as picking another city. Currently, the convention planning staff and the Office of Intercultural Relations are exploring all options, so that everyone in our church understands the impact of the final decision. The decision, whether it is to stay in Phoenix or move to another city, will have a serious impact on the
church—spiritually, relationally, and fiscally.

4. City of Phoenix. The city of Phoenix is paying attention to Mennonite Church USA. Recently, I visited the city of Phoenix with Rachel Swartzendruber Miller, director of convention planning. We met with the city manager, the chief of police, the vice?mayor, the convention bureau, and the three hotels with whom
we have binding contracts. Since Iglesia Menonita Hispana forwarded its formal request to change the convention location, the staff of Mennonite Church USA has been working at providing information to everyone involved and seeking a solution that will benefit the entire Mennonite Church USA family, of which Iglesia Menonita Hispana is a very important part. We shared with the city officials the concerns of IMH. We explained to them the concern about safety and the fears of what the law will mean. The city of Phoenix and its large Hispanic population have great disdain for SB1070.

5. Next steps. In the next step of our discernment process, members of the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA and members of the Executive Committee of Iglesia Menonita Hispana will travel to Phoenix to meet with city officials and local Latino community leaders to assess what is happening in the area.

We have to trust God that our discernment process will work in this matter. As an African-American, I am no stranger to discrimination. I empathize with my Hispanic brothers and sisters, and I cannot imagine what it feels like to live in fear of being deported from the country I love and call my home. I hope that everyone in the church understands that the pain and fear felt by our Hispanic constituency will not end with the decision of where we hold our 2013 churchwide convention. No, in the grand scheme of things, the decision of whether or not to go to Phoenix is quite small.

The bigger issues are: What are the guiding principles that will help us make this decision? How do we resource and care for Hispanic Mennonite congregations who are losing hundreds of members? How do we as a church make tough decisions, even if they only directly affect a small percentage of our members? What can we as a church do about immigration reform and the care for the stranger in our land? How committed are we to the priority of anti?racism in the church? Are we willing to sacrifice to become an anti?racist church? Can we as Racial/Ethnic people and Anglos still walk together in love and trust one another after the final decision is made? Ultimately, the decision where to spend five days in July 2013 will not mean much if we don’t do the hard work now. Now is the time for wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 24:3). Now is the time for all members of Mennonite Church USA to dwell together in unity and in prayer to begin the journey toward sharing a holistic witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Glen and I welcome your response to this way of working to make this important decision about a possible change of location for the convention. If you have comments or questions, please contact Glen Guyton at GlenG@MennoniteUSA.org or 1?866?866?2872, ext. 23044.