Shelley Buller, executive assistant to the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, has announced plans to retire at the end of 2023 after 46 years of service to the denomination.
“Shelley has been a blessing to both me and Mennonite Church USA,” said Glen Guyton, executive director. “She helped to train and guide many of our executive leaders, including me. Her tireless contributions have been invaluable to the organization and functioning of our denomination. . . . Her empathy and caring touched countless lives. Shelley showed so much love for the people she encountered.”
Buller joined the denominational staff in Newton, Kan., in 1978 after graduating from Emporia State University with an associate’s degree in business. “I feel like it was part of God’s plan for my life,” she said of accepting the job of executive assistant to Heinz Janzen, general secretary of the General Conference Mennonite Church, a predecessor of MC USA.
During the next four decades, she served as personal assistant to several GCMC general secretaries and MC USA executive directors, including Jim Schrag and Ervin Stutzman, handling correspondence, meeting logistics and travel arrangements. She also supported the GCMC Ministerial Leadership Services office from 1978 to 2001.
Prior to the installation of more automated phone systems, Buller managed a team of five receptionists and telephone operators from the Newton office, which serviced one toll-free number for all churchwide agency staff.
“It was my pleasure and good fortune to have Shelley Buller as my executive assistant,” said Ervin Stutzman, former executive director of MC USA. “Not only did she excel in all of the skills expected for such a role, but she also demonstrated a deep familiarity of church organization, the vital strength of Christian character and a caring love for God’s people. Mennonite Church USA will forever be in her debt.”
Since the 2002 merger that formed MC USA, Buller has played a significant role in coordinating every meeting of the Executive Board, Delegate Assembly and Constituency Leaders Council and provided onsite support at every nationwide convention.
In the past six years, Buller’s role expanded from that of a personal assistant to providing broader denominational support. In her current role, Buller is executive assistant to the Executive Board, the Delegate Assembly and the CLC. She assists Iris de León-Hartshorn, associate executive director of operations, to support the human resources department and MC USA’s Leadership Discernment Committee.
“I enjoyed serving in a supporting role behind the scenes so that the work of the denominational leadership could be done more efficiently,” Buller said. “I have a desire to be of service to others. One of the biggest joys for me has been meeting new people who quickly became my friends.”
Buller and her husband, Jon, are members of Tabor Mennonite Church, rural Newton.