MC USA director to retire in 2018
Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, has announced his retirement, effective in spring 2018. He has served in the role since January 2010.
The announcement came March 30 during the meetings of the church’s Executive Board, which will form a search committee to find Stutzman’s successor.
MC USA moderator Patty Shelly expressed appreciation for Stutzman’s strong executive and pastoral leadership.
“I thank God that, at this time in the young history of our denomination, we have had a person like Ervin Stutzman to lead Mennonite Church USA,” she said.
During his tenure, Stutzman played a key role in developing the Purposeful Plan to guide the work of the denomination while helping the church navigate a time of deep polarization and division.
“Despite all our differences across the church, it’s painful to see people going their own way, because I believe we’d be better together,” Stutzman said.
“It’s been a particularly challenging season for Mennonite Church USA. With the effects of the 2008 economic downturn, building a new facility [in Elkhart, Ind.], the controversy about same-sex marriage and gridlock and more, there have been a lot of things to work through.”
Stutzman has seen a wide swath of the church during his career. He estimates he has spoken in about 400 congregations in his various roles and visited numerous others. He will turn 65 next year and has decided it is time to turn his focus closer to home.
This feels like an appropriate time, he said, as the church is at a change point with the Future Church Summit scheduled during convention in Orlando this summer.
Stutzman began life in an Amish community in Kalona, Iowa, and grew up in Kansas. He entered churchwide service in 1982 when he was called as associate director for home ministries with Eastern Mennonite Missions. He served as Lancaster Mennonite Conference moderator for nine years.
Stutzman completed his doctoral degree in rhetoric and communication at Temple University in 1993. In the late 1990s he became professor of church ministries and then academic dean at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va., where he and his wife, Bonita, currently live and plan to remain in retirement.
Writing may be part of Stutzman’s post-retirement life, as he has already penned several novels. He also hopes to spend time in his hobbies of woodworking and remodeling.
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