With a name and leaders, Evana group moves ahead

Apr 20, 2015 by and

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Evana Network will be the name of a new Anabaptist group of churches set to launch in September.



Evana announced its name — a combination of “evangelical” and “Anabaptist” — along with a transitional leadership team, a vision and a set of common values, at evananetwork.org on April 13.

Congregations that join Evana can continue to be part of Mennonite Church USA or any other group.

“We do not seek to prevent congregations from having other affiliations, but we do require a commitment to our common values,” the site says.

John Troyer of Goshen, Ind., will serve as the transitional administrator and only paid staff person on a leadership team of seven.

“My goal is to do everything needed to build a community of churches that are ready to work together in September,” said Troyer, who from 2007 until this spring worked with his wife, Sheila Troyer, as youth pastors at Clinton Frame Mennonite Church near Goshen.

He will communicate the vision, raise funds and take care of administrative details.

No churches or groups are members yet. Most of the interest so far comes from churches that are currently or were once part of MC USA.

“This is the first opportunity these groups have had to know about the name, vision and values,” Troyer said.


According to its website, Evana affirms the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, a 1995 document that MC USA and Mennonite Church Canada use.

However, MC USA and Evana are entirely separate, Troyer said.

“We are not focusing on the ways we are different from MC USA but want to simply declare our vision and values,” he said. “That may be confusing for some, but we’ve also encountered many who have appreciated the approach we have taken.”

The website states that Evana is also separate from Anabaptist Renewal Circles, a revitalization group that helped Evana organize initially. Evana plans to support ARC’s mission of renewal.

“We anticipate giving time and space to congregations to work out their relationships with other entities,” Troyer said. “We don’t yet know how that will work, as we have only identified the broader aspects of our identity.”

Four Cs

Evana is in the final stages of gaining 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

evanalogoweb2It intends to credential leaders but won’t be considered a denomination, according to the website.

A document of Evana’s vision and values cites “four Cs” as its anchors: confession, commission, community and covenant.

Seven core values are: Jesus-centered identity, biblical authority, Anabaptist theology, evangelistic energy, covenanted accountability, gospel community and Spirit-empowered ministry.

“Congregations have been asking for a focused evangelical Anabaptist vision and a way of being accountable to it, and this network is working at filling that need,” Troyer said.


About 170 people met in January in Hart­ville, Ohio, to consider what a new network would look like. Feedback from the consultation informed the selection of a leadership team.

The team includes: Matt Hamsher, pastor of Longenecker Mennonite Church in Holmes County, Ohio; Tyler Hartford, lead pastor of Pleasant View Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind.; Virginia Leichty, associate pastor of Burr Oak Mennonite Church near Rensselaer, Ind.; Samuel Lopez, administrator of the Spanish Mennonite Council of Churches in New Holland, Pa.; Larissa Moore, pastor of Victory Community Church in Solon, Ohio; and Keith Weaver, moderator of MC USA’s Lancas­ter Mennonite Conference.

“They seek to ensure we are moving in the right direction, determine the best strategies for getting there, and providing accountability and oversight to me and to our finances,” Troyer said.

Team members who were asked to comment for this article either deferred to Troyer or did not respond.

Troyer hopes churches that share Evana’s vision will be strengthened by its mission.

“I believe the vibrancy and health of the Anabaptist movement around the world is also happening here in North America,” he said. “Evana wants to be a partner and resource in strengthening that.”

According to the website, the January consultation demonstrated “a desire for a sense of home, for empowered and accountable leadership, and for renewed focus on the centrality of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission which defined the early Anabaptists.”

A focus of conversation at the consultation included the question of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender membership and participation.

Evana’s website includes no mention of homosexuality but states: “As we respond to today’s conflicts, we are committed to being advocates for God’s shalom in the areas of peace and nonviolence, in caring for the poor and the marginalized, in marriage and in caring for the unborn. . . . We look to the Bible and the Confession of Faith to shape our response to changing cultural values rather than changing our values to fit the culture.”

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