ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) — Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board (EB) staff announces recent and current staff transitions:
- André Gingerich Stoner of South Bend, Indiana, resigned from his role as director of Holistic Witness on Aug. 1. He will continue in a half-time role as director of Interchurch Relations with several special assignments for the remainder of 2016. Stoner is beginning work with a community development corporation in the South Bend neighborhood where he and his family have lived for 20 years.
In his Holistic Witness role, which began in fall 2010 as a Cabinet position, Stoner’s activities included organizing Conversation Rooms at the past four Mennonite conventions; helping to plan and organize learning experiences related to immigration at the Phoenix convention; assisting in coordination of “Come and See” learning tours to Israel/Palestine for Mennonite pastors and leaders; and working with Mauricio Chenlo, denominational minister for church planting, to plan SENT 2016, the first Mennonite church planting summit.
In this role, Stoner also supervised Jason Boone, coordinating minister for the Peace and Justice Support Network, and Chenlo, denominational minister for church planting; these staff positions were shared between the Executive Board staff and Mennonite Mission Network. These church planting and peace and justice ministries will continue as Mennonite Mission Network ministries, with Boone and Chenlo reporting to James Krabill, senior executive for Global Ministries for Mission Network.
Stoner began as director of Interchurch Relations, then a newly created staff position, on a part-time basis in 2005. In that role, he shepherded the process for Mennonite Church USA to join the ecumenical body Christian Churches Together; helped Mennonite Church USA receive the Lutheran apology for past persecution and begin to live into this new reality; and facilitated a formal relationship and dialogue with the Church of God (Cleveland), a historically Pentecostal denomination.
“In all these relationships we find ourselves as a small but important part of the broader body of Christ,” Stoner said, “with gifts to receive and gifts to share as we seek together to grow in faithfulness to Jesus Christ.”
He is continuing work this fall on interchurch relations and special assignments related to Israel/Palestine and deepening relationships with the Jewish community. He is also using grant funds to arrange translation of core documents into the Chin and/or Mara languages and assisting with other denominational work.
“André has brought spirited leadership to our church’s priorities in Christian Community, Holistic Witness and Church-to-Church relationships,” Mennonite Church USA executive director Ervin Stutzman said. “He has worked alongside the Mission Network as well as the Peace and Justice Support Network to achieve a number of important goals, including our first church planting summit, and a learning stance in regard to Israel/Palestine.”
- Ken Gingerich of Albuquerque, New Mexico, retired at the end of June after serving the EB staff as art director since 2004. In his role, Ken designed numerous resources for Mennonite Church USA projects and initiatives; served as a communications consultant to agencies, area conferences and congregations; designed and coordinated the visual content for the Mennonite Church USA exhibit at the biennial denominational conventions and designed the convention exhibit hall layouts.
He hopes to combine his office and art studio into a design studio and to continue to paint, work for nonprofit clients and be involved with projects connected to the church. (Read Ken’s reflections on letting God use him for more than 40 years online.)
“Ken’s wisdom and creativity have been invaluable gifts to the executive board staff for many years,” communications director Janie Beck Kreider said. “He is so open and adaptable, and at the same time was this grounding, steady presence on our team. By bringing his whole self into his work without apology, he taught me a lot about what it means to be a leader during this challenging time for the church. I am grateful for his many contributions to the denominational staff and the broader church.”
- Ron Tinsley of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, succeeded Gingerich as art director on the Communications Team in late June. Since 2013, Tinsley has owned Prophetik Soul Branding + Design, a graphic design consulting business for nonprofit organizations, schools and small businesses. Prior to that, he served as communications director/instructor for Philadelphia Mennonite High School from 2006 to 2013 and area director for Young Life Greater Wilmington (Delaware) from 1999 to 2006. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate social science courses at Eastern University (St. Davids, Pennsylvania) as an adjunct instructor since 2009.
“Mennonite Church USA gives me an opportunity to use my graphic design talents and research skills to work on different projects that speak to the denomination’s various audiences. This is challenging, but I take comfort that first-century Christians dealt with a very similar issue,” Tinsley said.
Beck Kreider praised the experience that Tinsley brings to the denomination’s work.
“Ron brings fresh, creative energy to our team,” she said. “He shares and strengthens our passion for amplifying diverse voices across the church, and has a real gift for communicating those values visually.”
- Annette Brill Bergstresser of Goshen, Indiana, ended her role as editorial director as of Aug. 31. She accepted an invitation to increase her employment with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, where she has worked part-time in communications since 2002. Her EB staff responsibilities have included managing the denomination’s News Service, writing and editing, coordinating Spanish translation and leading regular meetings of the news representatives from the churchwide agencies.
“Annette has been a thoughtful contributor, wise discerner, organizational guru and champion of the details on our staff for the past six years, and we are grateful for the work she has done serving as editorial director,” Beck Kreider said.
- Walt Wiltschek of Broadway, Virginia, began as news editor on the Communications Team in a half-time role on Sept. 12 and will increase to full-time Oct. 1, primarily based out of the Elkhart, Indiana, office. Wiltschek has recently been serving as staff writer for Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, after six-plus years as campus pastor and director of church relations at Manchester University in Indiana. Previously, he served as director of news services and editor of Messenger magazine for the Church of the Brethren from 2000 to 2010. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and an alumnus of Eastern Mennonite Seminary.
“I have immensely enjoyed being involved in denominational and ecumenical journalism in the past, and I’m excited about the opportunity to work in that area again,” Wiltschek said. “Being able to do it in an Anabaptist context with Mennonite Church USA makes it especially appealing.”
Beck Kreider said Wiltschek’s background covers a wide breadth of skills.
“One of Walt’s strengths is his experience in so many different areas – sports journalism, magazine editing, pastoring and writing, just to name a few,” she said. “The combination of Walt’s gifts is rare; I am excited to welcome him onto our team.”
To contact EB staff members, see the staff listing online: http://mennoniteusa.org/who-we-are/structure/executive-board-staff/.
—Mennonite Church USA staff