Reflecting on leadership, preparing for pilgrimage

Terry Shue reflects on his time as director of Leadership Development with MC USA and his hope for the future of the church.

(Mennonite Church USA) — Terry Shue has served as MC USA’s director of Leadership Development and a member of the Executive Board leadership cabinet for eight years. His last day was June 1, 2018.

 

How long have you been in ministry and in what capacities? 

I started seminary at AMBS when I was 30 years old when we moved to Elkhart with our three young daughters, the youngest being only 5 weeks old. We were there for three years. I took my first congregation as a solo pastor of a small rural/mission congregation, Pine Grove, in Stryker. Ohio and was there for seven years. It was a good time of learning the ropes of ministry and the multiple layers of opportunities and expectations as a solo pastor.

While in that role, I was called to be the lead pastor of Kidron Mennonite Church, a large multi-staff congregation in northeast Ohio, the home church of my wife Kay. The change was a challenge in several ways. First, the smaller of two balconies at Kidron was larger than the whole congregation of Pine Grove — from about 60 people to 600 with a staff of five people — and the retired pastor I replaced had been there for 37 years and continued to live 100 yards from the church. Although there were those (myself included) who predicted an early demise, I served there for 13 years and had a very positive ministry for which I am grateful. While I was ending that role, Ervin called me to become the director of Leadership Development for the denomination, and I have been here for 8 years in this capacity.

 

What is next for you as you transition away from MC USA? 

I will become the director of Development for Central Christian School, the small Mennonite school where I have had my office for the past eight years. I will be part time at the school and will either look for something to compliment this work or be an active grandparent!

 

What do you most look forward to?  

As much as I loved meeting people from all over the church, I will be happy to have more time at home with my family and get more connected to the congregation where we are now members: Salem Mennonite Church in Kidron, Ohio.

For the month of June, my wife Kay and I will be doing our second Camino de Santiago — this time the Portuguese route. Pilgrimage is something deep in our hearts and we look forward to the time of reflecting on the dance of contentment, simplicity, gratitude and generosity in our lives.

 

What will you miss?  

I will miss the friends I have made literally all over the church — good people with a rich tapestry and testimony of what it looks like to follow Jesus in various contexts. I will miss the close relationships with my coworkers, both on the cabinet and with the Leadership Development team. Nancy Kauffmann and I booked some serious time together on projects with our Canadian peer Karen Martens Zimmerly.  I won’t miss working on some of those topics, but the relationships that were formed through that intense work continue to be a gift.

 

You’ve connected with so many leaders (congregational, area conference, others) in your role as director of Leadership Development. Can you name a particularly meaningful event or encounter that has shaped your leadership?   

The first time that Nancy and I called pastors forward at a national convention for a blessing, I was moved with the rousing applause the audience gave their pastors. With our theological understanding of leadership being a bit ambiguous as Mennonites, it served as a reminder of the need to thank, bless and respect the pastoral leaders in our midst.

Other highlights have been working with new pastors in the Transitioning into Ministry program of MC USA.  There are many good and competent new pastors coming into our church that give me great hope for the future of our church.

 

How have you experienced changes in the church over the years? 

I see local congregations as a whole who have become smaller and way more informal on Sunday mornings. I see Anabaptist distinctives diminishing in many of our congregations as evangelical voices question and shape a new identity in our polarized culture. I welcome the church becoming less defined by ethnicity and more through persons who join from a personal conviction. Some of the best leaders in our congregations are persons who have discovered the church as adults and joined out of conviction.     

 

What are your hopes for MC USA?   

I hope that we can find a way to nimbly navigate the cultural and theological shifts we are going through these days, refraining from employing the same vile rhetoric which the political parties do. I hope that as we increasingly become the progressive wing of the Anabaptist expression of North America, we can employ a thoughtful critique of issues. I hope that my grandchildren will grow up in a church where they have to ask what an ethnic Mennonite is and for them to discover for themselves there never was such a person!