David Hardt, the newly-elected USMB Leadership Board chair, sacrificed a little vacation time for a Five Minutes interview. Together with his wife, Amie, and their teenage son and daughter, Hardt was in Hawaii escaping a Bakersfield, California, summer heat wave. He sat on his ocean-view patio to share his story.
What is your day job?
For 12 or 13 years I worked as chief financial officer in our family home-building business, but now I have my own realty company. And if you ever get a speeding ticket you can go to one of my online traffic schools.
You were raised Catholic. How did you become Mennonite Brethren?
I had a Catholic youth leader who stirred a love of Christ in me. My high school girlfriend, Amie, and I would go to Laurelglen Bible Church (a USMB church in Bakersfield) in the morning and Catholic church at night, trying to figure out what was the difference. I came to understand that faith was not about the hoops you have to jump through for God.
What confirmed that Laurelglen was the right choice?
Two years after Amie and I were married, our son was born with special needs—29 surgeries and on a feeding tube till he was 12. Laurelglen helped us through that serious hardship and got us involved in deaf ministry. For the last 10 years we have been at The Bridge, an MB church closer to our neighborhood.
How did you begin in US Conference leadership?
They were looking for diversity on the board. My name was German, but not the Mennonite kind. I was a business and numbers guy in my 20s. I served as USMB treasurer and just finished 10 years on the MB Foundation board.
What would you say the conference is all about?
We are here to help each church be the best they can be, to facilitate local ministry. We don’t want to put God in a box and force everyone to do things the same. Our churches need to focus on being relevant and successful in their local context.
What unique contribution can a business person make in leading a denomination?
Business experience can help the church move forward in a pragmatic way. We have a lot of pastors’ input on the board, with over 50 percent of the current board members serving as pastors. It’s a neat deal that with the district ministers on the board we have essentially five (more) pastors in the room. But a business person can help us keep going down the path that God has led us.
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.