Here are the highlights from the November 16, Executive Board Meeting:
- The 2022 audit report was approved by the Stewardship Commission and Executive Board. The report declared no alarming concerns and all records in order.
- Listening Process Update: The listening process planning team is continuing to work with WDC congregations who have expressed interest in receiving a visit to secure dates for the visit and then to assign teams of trained volunteers to each congregation.
- Dismantling Racism Task Force: Ben Woodward-Breckbill and Jenna Ratzlaff are the co-chairs of the new task force, with additional members to be determined. Ben and Jenna met and discussed the anti-racism audit report recommendations. They met with the conference ministers to seek their recommendations and input. Ben is working on the task force application which will be presented to the Executive Board for approval at the January board meeting.
- A letter was sent by the Ministerial Leadership Commission to the Executive Board asking if WDC is making any efforts as a conference to process the MC USA Resolution on Repentance and Transformation. The Executive Board members reviewed the letter, discussed statements some other MC USA conferences have made, and decided that a statement should come from the Executive Board in support of the resolution and listing ways WDC is working on repentance and transformation efforts within WDC. EB members discussed partnering with the Ministerial Leadership Commission on the effort.
- The Executive Board approved the appointment of Chris Becker from Austin Mennonite Church in Texas to serve on the Executive Board for a three year term. This is in accordance with WDC bylaws which state that the Executive Board may appoint up to three additonal members in addition to elected board members, as needed to bring desired balance or expertise to the board.
- The Executive Board approved a request from the Hope Fund Task Force that it be allowed to expire and that the remaining funds be retained in a restricted fund with oversight by the Executive Board, for future use of congregations with emergency needs. Revised guidelines for the fund will be developed and approved by the Board in January.
At their meeting on September 30, the Executive Board:
- Appointed Executive Board member Ben Woodward-Breckbill as a WDC representative to MC USA Constituency Leaders Council for the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 CLC meetings.
- Took action to establish a Dismantling Racism Task Force to review the recommendations from the audit report and develop next steps. Ben Woordward-Breckbill will serve as the Executive Board representative on the Task Force, with further work to be done on appointing additional members and developing a job description for the Task Force.
- Received an Annual Assembly report from planning coordinator Kathy Neufeld Dunn, and a proposal for how to disperse the balance of funds from Assembly registrations, expenses and offerings. The Board approved the proposal to retain $2,000 for future assembly expenses such as a facility down-payment, and to transfer $558.98 to the Restricted Church Planting Fund. The Board also acknowledged concerns raised at Assembly related to annual budget preparation, and will work with Stewardship Commission to address these concerns in next year’s planning process.
- Received an update on the Listening Process. In September was the first congregational visit by a volunteer listening team.
- Noted that Mike Lamb, Fund Development Coordinator, began work with WDC in September.
- Decided to appoint additional members to the Executive Board, according to the WDC bylaws which allow for the Board to appoint up to 3 members in addition to elected members, in order to bring desired balance or expertise to the board. Announcements will be made inviting WDC members to suggest names for the Board to consider.
Highlights from the June 17 WDC Executive Board meeting:
- Building sale update – The sale of the 2500 Place building is continuing as scheduled. More details will be made known publicly after the closing which should occur soon.
- Listening process update – Letters of invitation went out to all WDC congregations and some have responded to set times for a listening team to make a personal visit. Two trainings have been held for listening team volunteers. Several grant applications are in process to help with expenses.
- The Executive Board joyfully approved Church Planting Commission’s request for certification of Iglesia Arca de Salvación in Uspantán, Guatemala as a church plant in WDC. The church will be introduced at the upcoming Annual Assembly.
- The 2024 Budget proposal brought forth by the Stewardship Committee was approved for recommendation to delegates at Annual Assembly.
- A workshop will be held at Annual Assembly to present the anti-racism audit report and future recommendations.
Highlights from WDC Executive Board meeting April 20, 2023
1. The Executive Board approved a transfer of 20% of the Bequest Fund to cover deficits from the fiscal year ending 1/31/23. After this transfer of bequest funds there will still be a slight deficit, resulting in a decline in the operating fund balance (retained earnings).
2. Two congregations have been visited by Listening Process planning team members Heidi Regier Kreider, Doug Penner, and Wendy Funk Schrag. The goal of the Listening Process is to visit as many WDC congregations in person this year to empower the vitality of WDC congregations by hearing their stories, offering ongoing relationship, and supporting their witness and mission. Our hope is to discover common themes among conference congregations and to animate hope, joy and shared vision in the months and years ahead. Additional volunteers are being contacted to be trained to begin visiting more churches. A letter will go out to all WDC churches in the near future inviting their participation.
3. The full report of the Anti-Racism Audit has been translated into Spanish. The report will be posted on the WDC website. A report about the Anti-Racism Audit and next steps will be provided during the delegate meeting this summer at Annual Assembly, as well as a workshop.
4. Planning continues for Annual Assembly to be held August 11-13 at Tabor Mennonite Church, rural Newton KS.
5. WDC is able to send 7 adult and 2 youth delegates to Mennonite Church USA delegate assembly this summer. The Executive Board is in the process of appointing delegates.
Highlights from the February 25th, 2023 WDC Executive Board meeting:
·Listening process update: The team organizing the listening process tour of WDC churches held its first pilot visit at Buhler Mennonite Church on February 19. The team of Heidi Regier Kreider, Doug Penner, and Wendy Funk Schrag visited and led the congregation through 4 questions of appreciative inquiry and provided information about resources available through WDC. Willmar Harder, pastor, reported it was a good experience. Heidi is working on a grant application for more funding. At least one additional pilot visit will be conducted before recruiting and training volunteer teams of 3 people each with a goal of visiting every WDC congregation in person throughout 2023 and 2024.
·Anti-racism audit – The English and Spanish summaries of the anti-racism audit team report are posted on the WDC website (below). The full report will be posted after being translated into Spanish. The Executive Board discussed plans for an anti-racism action group to form to work on the recommendations of the audit report.
·Facilities assessment team recommendation – The Executive Board unanimously approved two recommendations from the facilities assessment team: That a team be formed to negotiate with interested buyers to determine an agreed-upon sale price for the 2500 Place building (with the agreement that WDC would lease back space in the facility, and other use of the building would be compatible with WDC’s mission), and that the team negotiating the sale would recommend to the Stewardship Commission how proceeds from the sale would be used. The Executive Board also approved a motion that the final sale would be approved by the Board.
·Hope for the Future conference – Sandra Montes-Martinez reported on the recent Hope for the Future conference. The purpose of the conference is for Mennonites of color to discuss how to influence the church, to have a safe space with people who look like them, and to learn from each other. It’s also a place to express pain and suffering expressed from groups, although this year was more of a celebratory focus on recognizing elders. A curriculum for leadership was debuted this year (https://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/aama-curriculum/) .
·Plans for Assembly – Heidi, the WDC staff and the Listening Process planning team recommends that this year’s WD Assembly in August dovetail with the Listening Process theme of listening to God and one another. The board members affirmed this approach.
At its meeting on December 15, 2022 the WDC Executive Board:
- Discussed the anti-racism audit report in greater detail. The executive summary of the report (available in Spanish and English) will be distributed throughout WDC (see above). The full report will be distributed once it is available in both languages. A request for people interested in serving on an anti-racism action team to be appointed by the Executive Board will accompany the distribution of the reports.
- Discussed the listening process proposal presented by planning team members, Doug Penner, Heidi Regier Kreider and Wendy Funk Schrag. It is hoped that in person visits by teams of volunteers will occur to all WDC congregations in 2023/2024 with the purpose to empower the vitality of WDC congregations by hearing their stories, offering ongoing relationship, and supporting their witness and mission.
- Reviewed a report that was provided by the Facilities Assessment Team. A recommendation will be coming to the Executive Board at its February 25, 2023 meeting about whether to sell the building that WDC owns and is located in. If the building is sold, WDC would remain in the building as a tenant, and use of the building would continue to be compatible with WDC’s mission.
At its meeting on October 29, 2022 the WDC Executive Board:
- Continued planning for a Listening Process to be conducted in person as much as possible, over the next year with all of the WDC churches focusing on relationship building and re-connecting after Covid-19. A work group was appointed to work on a more specific plan, timetable, and budget.
- Received the Anti-Racism Audit Team report. The Board expressed their thanks for the team’s work, listened to the summary presented, and will have future conversations about implementing recommendations from the report.
- Heard updates from the Facilities Assessment Team as it continues its work to discern the future of the WDC building. A proposal will be presented at the December Executive Board meeting.
- Received a proposal from the Church Planting Commission for a new church plant, Iglesia Menonita Casa de Restauración, in Houston, Texas. It was approved.
- Renewed the Israel Palestine Task Force for a three-year period.
- Listened to a report that was shared from the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council, with a link to the CLC news release at https://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/constituency-leaders-council-meets/
At its meeting on August 25, 2022, the WDC Executive Board:
- Received and approved the annual independent Audit report from Knudsen Monroe & Company LLC. It was a clean report.
- Approved a sabbatical leave for Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-based) from November 14 – December 31, 2022.
- Approved an interim assistant moderator for 2022-2023 – Lee Lever has agreed to serve in the absence of a Moderator-Elect this year.
- Developed a process to review 2022 Assembly delegate table conversation notes and share feedback with the delegates.
- Appointed Lois Barrett, Delon Martens and Heidi Regier Kreider as WDC representatives to the Mennonite Church USA Constituent Leaders Council for 2022-2023.
- Heard an Institutional Report from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). Cleo Koop reported on the new cabinet shop in Goessel, KS, and Wanda Knight reported on a learning and service trip to south Texas. Following Kansas MDS bylaw changes that require only one representative from WDC on their board, Cleo will remain WDC’s representative on the Kansas MDS Board and Wanda Knight will serve as an at-large member.
- Accepted Tabor Mennonite Church’s invitation to host WDC Assembly 2023, August 11-13.
At its meeting on June 11, 2022, the WDC Executive Board:
- Reviewed plans and agenda for Annual Assembly, July 29-31, 2022, at Camp Copass near Denton, TX, with a reminder for congregations to appoint delegates to assembly soon.
- Approved special offerings at Annual Assembly for assembly expenses and for church planting; undesignated gifts will go first to Assembly expenses until they are met.
- Reviewed membership application materials from Iglesia Menonita Aposento Alto (WDC church plant in Wichita, KS), and approved a motion to bring a recommendation to delegates at WDC Annual Assembly to receive Aposento Alto into membership in WDC.
- Received an update from the Anti-Racism Audit Team, and its plans to interview BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) leaders in WDC.
At its meeting on March 24, 2022, the WDC Executive Board:
- Received correspondence from Turpin Mennonite Church, stating that the congregation had voted on January 30, 2022, to withdraw from membership in WDC and Mennonite Church USA, and become independent as Turpin Mennonite Church. Their letter stated, “This comes after several years of discussion and prayer as we have watched the evolving changes in MCUSA. We believe the conference has left the Biblical foundations outlined in our constitution, so you have left us already.” (On behalf of the Executive Board, moderator Lois Barrett has responded to Turpin Mennonite Church, expressing sadness at their decision, and welcoming future participation by Turpin Mennonite Church or members of their congregation in particular projects and activities of WDC, even though they would not be members of WDC. According to the WDC constitution, a proposal to release Turpin Mennonite Church from membership in WDC will be on the delegate agenda for WDC Annual Assembly, with a formal notice of this to be sent to WDC congregations and delegates no later than 60 days prior to the assembly.)
- Reviewed membership application materials from Iglesia Cristiana Anabautista Casa de Paz, Guatemala City, Guatemala; and approved a motion to bring a recommendation to delegates at WDC Annual Assembly to receive Casa de Paz into membership in WDC.
- Discussed plans for delegate agenda at the WDC Annual Assembly, July 29-31, 2022 at Camp Copass, TX.
- Considered varied responses to the Pastoral Letter on Credentialing for LGBTQ Ministers in WDC that was sent to congregations and ministers in February.
- Confirmed appointees to the WDC anti-racism audit team: Vicki Penner (EB representative), Ben Woodward-Breckbill (EB representative), Michelle Armster, and Sandra Montes Martinez;
- Confirmed appointees to a Facilities Assessment Team: Delon Martens, June Krehbiel, Willmar Harder as Executive Board representatives, and Cleo Koop as Stewardship Commission representative; Heidi Regier Kreider, staff liaison.
- Received reports from Rosie Epp, WDC representative to the Mennonite Central Committee-Central States board; and from Joan Entz, WDC representative to the Camp Mennoscah Board.
- Confirmed Magdalena Wenger from First Mennonite Church/Hutchinson, KS to be a WDC youth delegate to the special delegate assembly of MC USA in May 2022; another youth delegate is still being confirmed; they will join WDC adult delegates announced earlier: Heidi Regier Kreider, Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Sandra Montes-Martinez, Lois Barrett, June Krehbiel, Lee Lever, Delon Martens, and Jim Stucky.
At its meeting on January 22, 2022, the WDC Executive Board:
- Affirmed a new Strategic Plan recently adopted by the Church Planting Commission, to plant churches and empower Anabaptist church planters, foster relationships with emerging Anabaptist/Mennonite groups, strengthen partnerships and communication with WDC congregations, and encourage all congregations to seek opportunities for church planting in their own contexts.
- Approved the appointment of a team to do an internal anti-racism audit of WDC’s structure, programs and policies, in order to determine next steps in our ongoing work toward greater racial justice and equity. (This follows last year’s engagement by members of the Executive Board, Ministerial Leadership Commission and Staff in anti-racism training and the Intercultural Development Inventory)
- Received a report from Diana Schunn and Sharon Nance, two of WDC’s representatives to the Bethel College Board of Directors.
- Approved the appointment of a Facilities Assessment Task Force, to consider WDC’s long term facilities needs and priorities in light of our conference mission and core tasks.
- Decided to sponsor a Zoom forum in March to help equip WDC congregational delegates and leaders to prepare for the special session of Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly in May 2022.
WDC Review of Culture and Responsibilities Summary Report
In September 2018 the WDC Executive Board directed WDC leadership to conduct an internal review of WDC Culture and Responsibilities — to learn from the experience of processing ministerial misconduct and sexual abuse responses and to understand and strengthen WDC’s accountability and ministry practices. This review focused on how WDC engages with credentialed ministers as well as congregations and their leaders when responding to complex challenges and crises and how this is shaped by WDC practices, polity and programs and by expectations, support and accountability for WDC conference ministry staff. A summary report from the review was completed in June 2020 and is posted HERE. Questions or comments may be directed to Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister.