At its November meeting the board of directors of The Mennonite, Inc. (TMI), reviewed the organization’s ongoing operations and looked with excitement at the continued work with Mennonite World Review, Inc. (MWR), to form a new, independent Anabaptist communications nonprofit that will release new print and digital products in 2020.
The TMI board met Nov. 2 in Elkhart, Indiana, for the first time with Melody Pannell as board chair.
“I am excited to be giving leadership to TMI and engage in this ongoing creative process of developing a new organization,” Pannell says. “I am looking forward to our partnership with MWR as we envision an innovative mission that will honor where we have been and give direction to where we see ourselves in the future.”
Sheldon C. Good, executive director of TMI, noted that alongside an ongoing decline in print circulation, there is steady digital growth as new readers continue to subscribe to the weekly newsletter TMail, follow The Mennonite on Facebook and Instagram, and consume and share content online.
“People are craving news they can trust and stories with experiences of people who are faithfully following Jesus,” Good says. “We continue to be grateful for a large group of loyal magazine readers. At the same time, we are grateful for our increasingly strong following online.”
For TMI, subscription and advertising revenue this fiscal year so far align with budget projections. Revenue from donations is below budget.
“We have mailed two appeals for donations to our loyal print subscribers,” Good says. “We are gearing up for a successful Giving Tuesday and year-end giving. Our readers continue to support our cause of providing a forum for Mennonite voices to be informed and inspired, and we are grateful.”
Good says some print readers—both groups and individuals—have asked how their subscriptions will be impacted by the transition next year. Anyone with time left on their subscription will have it added on to their subscription of the new magazine that will begin publishing in September 2020. For those who subscribe to The Mennonite and Mennonite World Review, their remaining time will be combined and added to their new subscription.
The TMI board gave input on possible names for the new magazine, and they provided counsel on digital strategy and objectives such as content and audience growth. The TMI board also discussed the forming of the new organization’s board of directors, which will be comprised of a combination of individuals selected by the TMI board and the MWR board.
Prior to the TMI board meeting, a task force of members from the TMI and MWR boards and staff, including Good and MWR editor Paul Schrag, met in Goshen, Indiana. They discussed the new organization’s identity, purpose and core values.
The task force looked at commitments for the new organization related to intercultural inclusion in areas such as governance and staffing. The group also discussed inclusion of content and readers from the Anabaptist movement beyond Mennonite Church USA such as Mennonite Brethren, LMC and the growing number of people interested in Anabaptism outside of traditional denominations.
Like MWR, the new organization will not be affiliated with any denomination or conference. And like TMI, it will give priority to serving the members of MC USA, who are also MWR’s largest constituency.
“Stories have always shaped us and served as reminders of our values and who we are as Anabaptists,” says MWR board member Marathana Prothro. “At the end of the day, that’s what this process is about—expanding our capacity as independent journalists to tell stories that will inform, inspire and equip us as people of faith.”