Executive Board affirms strategic plan

The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, meeting by Zoom on March 15-16, affirmed a strategic plan that seeks to reimagine church.

Executive director Glen Guyton presented the plan, which calls the leadership to define and operationalize “the key practices of Anabaptism [to] ensure that our guiding framework is not just theoretical but lived out in tangible ways across all levels of MC USA.”

Objectives include identifying key markers and practices of the Anabaptist faith community, communicating in new ways and through new channels, providing prophetic leadership in peace and justice, developing a streamlined and effective denominational structure and creating a sustainable funding system.

Guyton emphasized the need for a more flexible understanding of leadership and membership, to move “away from traditional hierarchies toward more collaborative and empowering frameworks.”

“We continue to have questions about membership,” he said. “What does it mean to be a part of this [denomination]? What’s the accountability? What is the mutuality? We can better define this for people.” He said MC USA leadership historically has worked to protect the role of the area conferences.

The board affirmed a clean audit. MC USA had a $310,592 loss during the fiscal year, attributed to a convention deficit of $155,000 and a shift in timing of funding from one agency. The current fiscal year has started strong, with a budget surplus of $30,245, according to controller Robin Schrag, as recorded in the executive director’s report. Although area conference giving is down, individual giving is rising.

Associate executive director Michael Danner gave an update on abuse prevention and response. He highlighted upcoming Safe Church webinars, the launch of the updated Circle of Grace curriculum and an upcoming cohort program for leaders of declining or plateaued congregations. The denomination’s Church Vitality team is continuing to offer Healthy Boundaries abuse prevention training, consultation and coaching, while working to make the ecumenical program more distinctly Anabaptist.

Danner reported on the progress of Church Vitality’s Prevention and Accountability project, a guidebook that addresses prevention of abuse by credentialed and lay leaders, as well as leadership accountability.

“We have been working for over two years on updates to the current sexual misconduct policies and procedures,” he said. “We’re now in the third draft of those resources.”

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