The Ohio Conference Leadership Team has approved entering into an agreement with Design Group International to assist in a three-part Conference review. The Leadership Team is taking this step based on feedback from delegates at the March 2022 Annual Conference Assembly. Delegates overwhelmingly affirmed the idea of using a process consultant to assist the Conference over the upcoming two years.

Design Group International has more than 20 years of experience offering strategic planning and process consulting to businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and faith communities throughout North America and beyond. Many of the group’s consultants have Anabaptist faith backgrounds. You can learn more about the group at

Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi

The primary consultant will be Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi. Jeanne has almost 30 years of experience in strategic planning and process consulting with Mennonite Central Committee in DR Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and in U.S.-based settings. Jeanne is a member of Orrville Mennonite Church.

The feedback from many of the delegates at Annual Conference Assembly stressed the importance that the consultant be of Anabaptist/Mennonite faith and have some knowledge of the inner workings of our congregations and Ohio Conference, while not being so close that he or she might not be able to be objective and unbiased. The Leadership Team feels that Jeanne’s faith background, her qualifications and experience, and the fact that she has not been an active part in Ohio Conference life for the past 30 years make her the right choice for Conference at this time. Further information about Jeanne can be found at

Jeanne has been tasked with facilitating the work of Conference staff and volunteers in three main areas:

  1. Developing a process to review and make a decision about our future affiliation with MC USA;
  2. Developing a structure that fits with who Ohio Conference is today based on our new mission statement that was unanimously affirmed by our delegates at the 2022 Annual Conference Assembly; and
  3. Revising our Constitution.

The Leadership Team sees all three of these areas as being interrelated, needing to be addressed together as we discern God’s vision and purpose for Ohio Conference and our congregations into the future. While there will be some overlap in the two-year process, we envision that much of the first year will be focused on the discernment and decision making, and the second year focused on the implementation of the decisions and the revising of the Constitution.

The strategic planning process will actively involve stakeholders from across the Conference with the desire to build enthusiasm, cohesiveness and forward thinking for Ohio Conference. This process is an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive. Among many other things, the two-year agreement includes the following commitments by the consultant:

  • Facilitating an all-day Leadership Team retreat on April 28, 2022
  • Facilitating a gathering of the Ministry Development Team in late spring or early summer 2022
  • Facilitating a gathering of all credentialed ministers in late summer/early fall 2022
  • Facilitating the gatherings of delegates in the fall 2022 and early 2023
  • Supporting a Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee as they compile a concise Strategic Plan to be ready for a delegate vote at the Annual Conference Assembly, March 3-4, 2023. The Strategic Plan will include a new leadership structure to provide a leaner and more effective way to implement the vision and mission of the Conference as well as affiliation options.
  • With the Strategic Plan in place, the work of 2023 will be to revise the Ohio Conference constitution, preparing for the final revision to be voted on at the Annual Conference Assembly in March, 2024. The consultant will facilitate the work of an ad hoc constitution committee.

As the Leadership Team, we are looking forward to Jeanne helping us, our other leaders and staff, our credentialed ministers, delegates, and other congregational members as we discern God’s future vision for us as a conference. If you have any questions about this process, please contact one of the members of the Leadership Team. If you would like to review the full agreement between Ohio Conference and Design Group International, please contact Judy King at the Conference office at or 330-857-5421.

Consultant Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi and Conference Minister Dick Barrett participate in a Leadership Team retreat on April 28. Photo by Sherah-Leigh Gerber.