Executive Board names search committee to call new executive director

ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) — The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board has announced an eight-member search committee that will be charged with calling the next executive director of Mennonite Church USA.

Executive Board member Joy Sutter of Franconia Mennonite Conference in Pennsylvania will chair the committee. Other members are Clyde Kratz (Virginia Conference), Joyce Kusuma (Pacific Southwest), Sandra Martinez (Western District), Phil Rich (Ohio), Samuel Voth Schrag (Illinois), Zenobia Sowell-Bianchi (Illinois) and Dick Thomas (volunteer staff, Atlantic Coast). The group includes five current board members, two members of the Constituency Leaders Council and a former moderator.

“We discussed carefully the merits of having a smaller committee,” Mennonite Church USA moderator and Executive Board chair Patty Shelly said, “but eventually we were convinced that a committee of eight helps us represent the diversity of experience and perspectives in the church as we choose new leadership for our denomination. We tried to balance conference affiliation, gender, geography, racial/ethnic representation, clergy and lay members and — as best we know — a range of theological views from across the church.”

The committee will seek a successor to Ervin Stutzman, who has served as executive director since January 2010; in late March he announced his retirement effective in spring 2018. Shelly said one of the first tasks of the Executive Board and search committee will be to review the position description for the executive director and revise as needed, gathering significant input from across the church and its agencies. The committee will post the position description online to provide easy access.

Sutter — who has been nominated as moderator-elect of the church — said she plans to schedule the first face-to-face meeting of the search committee in early July, during the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

“This is one of the most important tasks of the Executive Board: to hire an executive director,” Sutter said. “This leadership role is very important to our denomination and provides an opportunity for an individual to share his or her unique set of gifts and experiences in service to God. We will begin our work in Orlando and work diligently until we recommend a new executive director to the Executive Board for consideration and approval for hire.”

Both Shelly and Sutter sought prayers for the committee members as they enter into this process of discernment, and for the larger church.

“As we begin our work, we invite prayers as we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in discerning how God is calling Mennonite Church USA to be followers of Jesus in the 21st century and in choosing a person who can be a catalyst and leader for our conferences and congregations as we walk together in the future,” Sutter said. “We will pray without ceasing for our new leader and give thanks for God’s leading in the process.”

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