Stutzman installed as executive director
Augsburger, Shelly and Villegas talk about roots, branches and wings.by Everett J. Thomas
More than 400 people packed Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va., on March 7 to participate in the formal installation service for Ervin Stutzman as the new executive director for Mennonite Church USA. Stutzman began his role on Jan. 1.
Executive Board member Terry Shue (left) leads the commissioning of Ervin Stutzman. Stutzman's wife, Bonita, is at right. At far right is Executive Board member Patty Shelly. Photo by Everett J. Thomas.
Park View pastor Phil Kniss and Iglesia Menonita Hispana (Hispanic Mennonite Church) moderator Juanita Nuñez were the worship leaders for the service. Jack Suderman, general secretary for Mennonite Church Canada, brought words of affirmation.
The message was provided by three people. The first part was "roots." The second part was "branches." The third part was "fruit."
"The roots of our faith call us to faithfulness in discipleship of Christ," said Myron Augsburger of Harrisonburg, Va., "to building congregations that share the discipline of Christ, to transcend individualism and materialism by a meaningful sense of community, to hold to the priority of God's kingdom now, to be active extensions of love in an increasingly violent society and to share a witness of God’s saving grace with those about us."
Patty Shelly, Executive Board member and member of the executive director search committee, spoke about branches.
"God has been faithful," Shelly said, "sustaining and empowering the branches of our church as it spreads out in witness, ministry and fruitfulness of many kinds. Abiding in the vine brings blessing. Today we celebrate that God continues to call forth leaders for the church—not only at the national level but throughout the church."
Park View choir members (from left): Pearl Hoover Hartman, Rachel Whitmer, Kim Troyer Schmucker. Photo by Everett. J. Thomas.
Isaac Villegas, pastor of Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Church, ended the three-person sermon by talking about fruit: "The future of any garden lies with the seeds and the soil," Villegas said. "When the fruit dies, the seeds are set free to produce new life. The secret to new life is in the compost, with the decomposing fruit, where the seeds of life abide. Compost shows us how fruit dies its way into the future. Jesus, the fruit of Mary's womb, dies his way into the future. With Christ, resurrected life is our future as well, a life that we die into."
Terry Shue, a member of the Executive Board, provided the charge to Stutzman:
Moderator: Do you believe that you are called by God and God's church to this ministry?
Ervin: I believe I am so called.
Moderator: Will you respect and be guided by the beliefs and practices of Mennonite Church USA?
Ervin: I will.
Other elements of the service included several solos by Tony Brown, Hesston (Kan.) College faculty member, and the Park View choir, which sang "Ye Shall Have a Song." Stutzman spoke briefly, giving thanks to the many people who helped make the new assignment possible.
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