This article was originally published by The Mennonite

MC USA celebrates historic installation of Glen Guyton, first African-American ED

Photo: Glen Guyton speaks at his installation service Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church, Goshen Indiana. Photo by Rex Hooley.

Glen Guyton was installed as executive director of Mennonite Church USA on Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana. The service celebrated the beginning of his tenure as ED, which began May 1.

Guyton is the first African-American to serve as executive director of MC USA. His installation marks a significant moment in the denomination’s history.

Members of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and staff pray for Glen Guyton. Photo by Rex Hooley.

Bishop L.W. Francisco III and Titus Peachey, two spiritual leaders whom Guyton credits as teaching him what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian, led parts of the installation. Peachey reflected on walking with Guyton as he discerned a decision to leave the military as a conscientious objector.

“It is a profound act of faith and discipleship to speak and act on the powerful truth of the gospel growing inside you, in the midst of the hierarchy and culture of a powerful military system,” said Peachey. “But God’s Spirit and the wider church community gave you the courage to stand on your faith and persist.”

“I can’t think of anything more truly Anabaptist,” he said.

Francisco, pastor of Calvary Community Church, Hampton, Virginia, where Guyton initially joined the Mennonite church in 1993, led the installation charge.

“I believe Glen was fashioned for such a time as this. His life’s journey has equipped and prepared him for this assignment,” said Bishop Francisco. “We must participate alongside our new executive director. He and the staff cannot do it alone. We did not call him to do our job. We did not call him to do our ministry. We called him to seek the heart of God. We called him to bring us back to a place of revival.”

Hannah Heinzekehr, former MC USA staff and mentee of Guyton, reflected on his passion for leadership development and faith formation for all ages, sharing several letters from young leaders across MC USA whom Guyton mentored throughout his career. Heinzekehr’s two children were also invited to participate in the days’ events, at Guyton’s encouragement.

“When I was working with Mennonite Church USA, Glen modeled a commitment to high-energy teamwork, to leadership with Scripture and worship at the center of our work,” said Heinzekehr. “He modeled a robust expectation that the convention planning and the communication we did would draw on input and conversations with and from diverse communities across the church.”

Guyton was presented with a wooden crozier, designed by Ken Gingerich and made by Weldon Friesen, as a symbol of Guyton’s own understanding of his leadership role “as more of a shepherd than a business executive.” He was also given a stole embroidered with the MC USA dove, created by Carol Honderich on behalf of MC USA staff.

“I don’t see it as my job to save MC USA. I say that’s God’s job,” Guyton said in his closing reflections. “I am focused on what’s before us. I am focused on the Journey Forward as one of the leaders here in MC USA.”

“If we live into our call as a church, as people of peace, God will provide us the tools we need for the church to continue to grow and to thrive,” he continued.

Other pastors and leaders who participated in the service included Marty Lehman, pastor at College Mennonite Church, Rebecca Stoltzfus, president of Goshen College, John Garland, pastor at San Antonio Mennonite Church, Joanne Gallardo, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, Goshen, and several current MC USA staff members. Special music was provided by The Open Fifths, pianist Robina Sommers and the Reuel Band.

The event was coordinated by Lehman, MC USA staff member Iris de León-Hartshorn and MC USA Executive Board member Jim Caskey. A photo album of the festivities can be found on MC USA’s Facebook page, along with video clips and highlights. A recording of the entire service can be found here.

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