Photo: Duane Oswald leads a session on board development at the recent MC USA Executive Board meeting. Photo provided by MC USA.
The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) held its first meeting of the decade Jan. 17-18 in Kansas City, Missouri. Key agenda items included revisions to the church’s resolution policy, updates to the EB’s media policy, discernment about the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group’s report and an overview of the budget and year-end giving. The EB also participated in board development training.
The EB voted unanimously to raise the submission requirements for Delegate Assembly in its “Developing Resolutions for Mennonite Church USA” policy. The revised guidelines will extend the lead time for submitting resolutions from six months to eight months ahead of the Delegate Assembly. In addition, “last minute” submissions now will require a total of 40 delegate signatures from at least four different conferences. The previous policy required 30 signatures from three conferences.
“These changes will allow more time for churchwide discernment and greater opportunity for strong denominational support of resolutions,” says MC USA moderator Joy Sutter.
MC USA moderator-elect Linda Dibble presented proposed revisions to the “Policies of the Executive Board,” most notably adapting the EB’s media policy to reflect the upcoming transition of The Mennonite, Inc., from a denominational medium to an external news agency pending its merger with Mennonite World Review, Inc., to occur by Sept. 1.
The EB spent time in discussion around the written report from the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group’s one-time work session in November 2019. The report outlined several nonbinding recommendations and process ideas for continuing the churchwide discussion on the Membership Guidelines, including a recommendation to retire the Membership Guidelines, which had strong support across the ideological spectrum of participants.
“The Executive Board deeply appreciates and respects the work of the Membership Guidelines Advisory Group, and we are committed to continuing our ongoing discernment regarding the Membership Guidelines,” Sutter says.
As a next step, the Constituency Leaders Council will provide feedback to the EB after duscussing the report during the CLC’s meeting on March 26-28 in Kansas City, Missouri.
In his report to the EB, MC USA executive director Glen Guyton presented key highlights of 2019, including these: Total 2019 year-end giving to the EB was up by $20,000, an increase of 47%, with a 19% increase in participation compared with 2018; the total MennoCon19 deficit was $9,283, significantly lower than the $112,000 loss initially calculated; and Women in Leadership met in October 2019 and is planning two events for 2020.
Duane Oswald, an expert in Mennonite church leadership with more than 30 years of service at the conference, agency and national church levels, led a session on board development. The purpose of the training was to provide insights for optimal board leadership and help the EB clearly define its role and responsibilities, especially in the area of policy governance.
“Duane did a great job of reminding us of how high functioning boards work and how we can improve policy governance,” Sutter says. “As we continue to enter difficult conversations, we need to ask, What is our role? What is the vision and mission of MC USA in light of these discussions? and How do the mission and vision impact effective policy governance and decision-making?”
The next EB meeting is scheduled for April 23-25 in Philadelphia.