ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA)—Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board staff announces two new Convention Planning staff members, Sarah Chase and Tonya Keim Bartel.
Sarah Chase of Plain City, Ohio, joined the Convention Planning staff Jan. 4. She’ll be coordinating registration and special events as well as working on social media for convention, working at 0.60 FTE from her home in Ohio. Sarah is a graduate of Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to working with Convention Planning, she will continue to work part time as a partner in her family’s business, Yoder Ag Services.
Sarah is married to Jared Chase, who serves as youth pastor at their congregation, Sharon Mennonite Church. They have two children.
“What excites me most about joining the convention staff with Mennonite Church USA is being able to be a part of a fun process to plan for a great event that brings people together,” Chase says. “Convention is a unique place for everyone to come from many different places and unite together as one.”
“We are looking forward to working with Sarah for Orlando 2017,” says Glen Alexander Guyton, chief operating officer for Mennonite Church USA, who also serves as convention planning director. “Sarah brings experience in both youth ministry and event planning to her new position. I know people will enjoy interacting with Sarah in her role as registrar.”
Tonya Keim Bartel of Hesston, Kansas, who served as convention planning expediter for last summer’s biennial convention in Kansas City, Missouri, transitioned in the fall to work half time in Convention Planning constituent relations.
In her new role, according to Guyton, Keim Bartel is taking on some new CP initiatives, such as expanding options for family programming for the Orlando 2017 convention, introducing some new forums for seminar speakers to engage Generation Xers and Millennials in more authentic ways, and connecting with business owners and others who value convention. She also oversees volunteers and the junior youth program. She works from the denominational office in Newton.
“Tonya has worked in limited roles for a number of conventions; we are glad to have her back on the team for Orlando 2017,” says Guyton. “We affectionately call her ‘Susie Sunshine’ because of the warm and caring attitude she brings to the team. She is working hard to make sure parents who bring young children to convention will have a phenomenal experience.”
Keim Bartel is a graduate of Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, and in recent years has taught junior high, served as a mental health worker in an addictions rehabilitation facility and been employed as worship coordinator at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston. She has three children ranging in age from four to 10.
“I am thrilled to continue employment in convention planning!” she says. “I’m convinced there is no better avenue for our church family to gather for worship, discernment and faith formation. Being on the ground level of such a terrific event is a total blessing!”
In addition to Chase, Guyton and Keim Bartel, the Convention Planning team includes Scott Hartman, convention planning coordinator, who works in the denominational office in Elkhart, Indiana.
—Mennonite Church USA staff
Tonya Keim Bartel
Convention Planning staff (l. to r.): Scott Hartman, Glen Alexander Guyton, Tonya Keim Bartel, Sarah Chase