MC USA installs first African-American executive director

Glen Guyton left the military as a conscientious objector

Aug 27, 2018 by

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GOSHEN, Ind. — Mennonite Church USA celebrated the leadership of Glen Guyton, the denomination’s first African-American executive director, at an installation service Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church.

Guyton began serving May 1.

Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, and his wife, Cyndi, listen as Joy Sutter, MC USA moderator-elect, reads a litany during an installation service for Guyton on Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind. — Rex Hooley/MC USA

Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, and his wife, Cyndi, listen as Joy Sutter, MC USA moderator-elect, reads a litany during an installation service for Guyton on Aug. 18 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind. — Rex Hooley/MC USA

Bishop L.W. Francisco III and Titus Peachey, two spiritual leaders whom Guyton credits as teaching him what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian, led parts of the installation.

Peachey reflected on walking with Guyton as he discerned a decision to leave the military as a conscientious objector.

“It is a profound act of faith and discipleship to speak and act on the powerful truth of the gospel growing inside you, amidst the hierarchy and culture of a powerful military system,” Peach­ey said. “But God’s Spirit and the wider church community gave you the courage to stand on your faith and persist.

“I can’t think of anything more truly Anabaptist.”

Francisco, pastor of Calvary Community Church where Guyton initially joined the Mennonite church in 1993, led the installation charge.

“I believe that Glen was fashioned for such a time as this. His life’s journey has equipped and prepared him for this assignment,” Francisco said. “. . . We called him to seek the heart of God. We called him to bring us back to a place of revival.”

Hannah Heinzekehr, former MC USA staff and mentee of Guyton, reflected on his passion for leadership development and faith formation for all ages, sharing several letters from young leaders across MC USA whom Guyton mentored throughout his career.

“When I was working with Mennonite Church USA, Glen modeled a commitment to high-energy teamwork, to leadership with Scripture and worship at the center of our work,” said Heinzekehr. “He modeled a robust expectation that the convention planning and the communication that we did would draw on input and conversations with and from diverse communities across the church.”

Guyton was presented with a wooden crozier, designed by Ken Gingerich and made by Weldon Friesen, as a symbol of Guyton’s own understanding of his leadership role “as more of a shepherd than a business executive.” He was also given a stole embroidered with the MC USA dove, created by Carol Honderich, on behalf of MC USA staff.

“I don’t see it as my job to save MC USA. I say that’s God’s job,” Guyton said in his closing reflections. “I am focused on what’s before us. I am focused on the journey forward as one of the leaders here in MC USA.

“If we live into our call as a church, as people of peace, God will provide us the tools we need for the church to continue to grow and to thrive.”

Other pastors and leaders who participated in the service were Marty Lehman, a pastor at College Mennonite Church; Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltz­­fus; San Antonio Mennonite Church Pastor John Garland; Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church pastor of faith formation Joanne Gallardo and several MC USA staff members. Special music was provided by The Open Fifths, pianist Robina Sommers and the Reuel Band.


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