Board plans for executive director transition
by Myra Holmes
When the USMB Leadership Board met Oct. 24-26 in Wichita, Kan., they affirmed the preliminary recommendation for a revised Article 13 of the USMB Confession of Faith as proposed by the national Board of Faith and Life (BFL), and they made decisions regarding leadership transition following the July 2014 retirement of Executive Director Ed Boschman. USMB staff met Oct. 23-24 and joined the board for meetings Oct. 24-25.
Article 13 of the USMB Confession of Faith, currently titled, “Love and Nonresistance,” describes biblical peacemaking in a violent world. The proposed title is, “Love, Peacemaking and Reconciliation.”
The BFL will hold one more meeting to finalize the revision before publishing a formal recommendation. The revision of Article 13 will be presented to the USMB constituency at the biennial convention in July 2014 as a joint recommendation from BFL and the LB.
In meetings Saturday after staff was dismissed, the LB decided to defer the appointment of a new executive director following Boschman's retirement from the role in July 2014. According to Steve Schroeder, board chair, in an email following the meetings, “An appointed partnership and structure review team will be consulting with MB Foundation and our district ministers to help the board reevaluate which leadership ministries and services we will provide in order to better serve our pastors, districts and churches in the coming years. A temporary Interim Leadership Team will be appointed by July 1 to provide continuity for our USMB ministries.”
The board also heard reports and updates from staff, learned about the International Community of Mennonite Brethren and discussed the 2014 budget.
As part of his report, Boschman shared personal feelings about his upcoming retirement and the transition in USMB leadership, telling the board, “God is still at work inside of me through this season.”
Don Morris, director of Mission USA, gave updates on church planting projects, including three new churches that Mission USA had a significant role in planting in 2013: The Greenhouse, Saratoga Springs, Utah; Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia, Mission, Texas; and Friends of Jesus, Las Vegas, Nev.
Myra Holmes reported for Christian Leader magazine and USMB social media efforts, noting that CL received two awards from the Evangelical Press Association last spring, a significant achievement for a small publication. She also outlined plans for a new online communication tool that will launch in early 2014. Holmes serves as both assistant editor for CL and USMB social media coordinator. Connie Faber is CL editor.
Lori Taylor, executive assistant, gave the board a preview of a new USMB website, to be launched in January 2014.
Donna Sullivan, administrative assistant, bookkeeper and events coordinator for USMB, gave a financial summary and an update on plans for Conection 2014, the biennial national convention, scheduled for July 25-26 in Santa Clara, Calif.
LB members prayed for staff after hearing reports and updates.
Guest David Wiebe, executive secretary of International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), gave a presentation on the diversity and gifts found within the global Mennonite Brethren family and how ICOMB seeks to connect, expand and strengthen that family.
Board and staff also discussed the budget for 2014. Both staff and board members expressed a strong commitment to pass a balanced 2014 budget that does not compromise ministry. Staff members will continue to work with USMB treasurer David Hardt to reach that goal before the budget is finalized.
Illness and various schedule conflicts significantly impacted attendance for both staff and board at these meetings; five board members and five staff members were present. The full LB includes: Steve Schroeder, chair, Hillsboro, Kan.; Marv Schellenberg, vice chair, Wichita, Kan.; David Hardt, treasurer, Bakersfield, Calif.; Sue Kliewer, secretary, Auberry, Calif.; Clyde Ferguson, Jr., Hudson, NC; Aaron Hernandez, LaGrulla, Texas; Vyacheslav “Slavik” Gladysh, Clovis, Calif.; and Jodi Thomas, Rapid City, SD. Matt Kolbert, Clovis, Calif., has resigned; the LB hopes to fill his board position by their next meetings in March 2014.
USMB staff also met before the board Oct. 23-24 to pray, connect and plan. A significant amount of time was dedicated to prayer for each other, for the national Mennonite Brethren family and for the nation. When it came time for staff business agenda, a key topic of discussion was Conection 2014, the biennial national convention coming in July 2014. Staff also discussed plans for two “Plant 2014” fundraising dinners: Feb. 22, 2014, at Bethany MB Church, Fresno, Calif., and Mar. 8, 2014, at First MB Church, Wichita, Kan.
The six staff USMB members live and work in four different states: Boschman and Taylor work out of Bakersfield, Calif.; Morris is based in Edmond, Okla.; Sullivan and Faber work from offices in Wichita and Hillsboro, Kan.; and Holmes works from a home office in Littleton, Colo.