Ohio Conference Leadership Team welcomes MC USA Executive Board to Ohio

MC USA Executive Board members in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 19, 2023. (Front row, left to right) Marty Lehman, Linda Dibble, Margie Mejia-Caraballo, Susan Hart (Second row) Mitch Kingsley, Phil Helmuth, Karen Zehr (Third row) Lesley Francisco McClendon, Todd Lehman, Rosetta Landis (Fourth row) Jon Carlson, Thomas Dunn and Emily Merolli. (Not pictured: Richard Aguirre, Chaiya Hadtasunsern and Jerrell Williams). Photo by Camille Dager.

By Camille Dager

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Mennonite Church USA) — The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board strengthened key relationships and discussed creative strategies for convention and revitalization at the first Executive Board meeting of the biennium Oct. 18-20, 2023, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ohio Mennonite Conference welcomed the Executive Board and staff, as well as attending CEOs from Everence, MennoMedia, Mennonite Education Agency, Mennonite Mission Network, and MHS Association, with Ohio-themed gift bags and a catered lunch at the Crowne Plaza Cleveland Airport Hotel. Denominational leaders networked with OMC’s Ken Sims, moderator; Paula Snyder Belousek, assistant moderator; Andrew Blount, Stewardship Ministry chair; and Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Credentialing Ministry representative, during lunch.

“Community is the center of our life together, so I’m always thankful for opportunities to establish and strengthen relationships throughout every part of MC USA,” said MC USA Moderator Jon Carlson, about connecting with OMC leaders.

Reimagining Convention

In response to delegate action calling for togetherness, the Executive Board began planning for MC USA’s 2025 biennial convention, reimagining it as a more intimate gathering focused on the biennial theme, Follow Jesus.

Ohio Mennonite Conference leaders (from left to right) Paula Snyder Belousek, Ken Sims, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach and Andrew Blount. Photo by Camille Dager.

MC USA Executive Director Glen Guyton presented a report on the MennoCon23 convention. More than 1,400 people attended the convention in Kansas City, Missouri, in July 2023. Demographic shifts included an increase in the percentage of BIPOC attendees (14% of total) but a decrease in the percentage of youth. Children and youth represented 37% of attendees. In post-convention surveys, 97% of respondents rated the event positively, with speakers, worship and seminars ranked most favorably.

The event yielded a net deficit of $235,000, even though MC USA staff reduced convention costs by more than 10% over initial projections.

Proposed changes for MC USA’s 2025 convention include contracting with more cost-effective venues, reducing production costs, tightening up the convention schedule and raising participant registration fees.

For a full report of the MC USA Executive Board meeting, see https://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/executive-board-strengthens.