Executive Board Jan. 9–11 meeting highlights

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The winter meeting of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board were held January 9-11, 2013, in Phoenix, Arizona, the location of our summer convention.

The meetings were opened by a welcome from moderator Dick Thomas and moderator-elect, Elizabeth Soto Albrecht. Worship was led by board members Samuel Voth Schrag and Juanita Nuñez.

During the meeting, the Executive Board:

  • Reviewed the Executive Director’s Report, including updates on the Purposeful Plan goals, staff travel updates and agenda items for discussion.
  • Discussed socially responsible investing (SRI) with Everence President Larry Miller.
  • “Practiced” the prayer walk, which is scheduled for the last evening of the convention.

Discernment. Much of the board’s meeting time was spent on biblical/communal discernment, led by Ervin Stutzman, executive director. The group started with an orientation to biblical/communal discernment, including reading materials, and then discussed how the Executive Board might model discernment. The group talked about many aspects of discernment. After discussion, the board had a conversation about a discernment question that could be used to engage delegates as a way to practice discernment as a body. The board decided to focus the discernment question on the church’s response to immigration.

Bylaws. The board approved changes to the Mennonite Church USA Bylaws.

Membership Guidelines administrative update. After a lively discussion, the board took action to include a copy of the administrative update of the Membership Guidelines in the delegate materials for this summer’s Delegate Assembly. Both the Executive Board and the Constituency Leaders Council worked on administrative updates to the document, including changing time-sensitive language since the guidelines were originally written for the merger in early 2000.

Appointments. The board appointed the following people to serve on boards and committees:

  • Edie Landis to a second term on the Leadership Discernment Committee.
  • Ed Diller to a second term on the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. board as a Mennonite Church USA representative.
  • Leonard Dow to a second term on the MCC U.S. board.
  • Ertell Whigham to a first term on the board of Mennonite Health Services Alliance.
  • Jo-Ann Brant as the Mennonite Church USA representative on the Bible Believers Commentary.

Day at the border.  The Executive Board, staff and the CEOs of our churchwide ministries spent the last day visiting the U.S./Mexican border through the BorderLinks program, www.borderlinks.org. (Convention participants will also be offered this opportunity.) It was a powerful day as we heard painful stories from people who had been deported. We were overwhelmed as we observed the wall that divides our countries. And we were inspired by the stories of hope from our undocumented sisters and brothers as they continue to follow Jesus in an uncertain world.

—Summary by Marty Lehman, Associate Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA, January 2013