By Mike Sherrill
Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Reflections on Mennonite Mission Network's 20th anniversary


Since the day it was established 20 years ago, Mennonite Mission Network has been striving to follow Jesus' teachings and avoid approaches to mission that rely on colonial systems. It’s a God inspired core value handed to us by forebearers such as J.D. Graber, Irene and Ed Weaver, and Wilbert R. Shenk, my mentor.

When I received this torch from Stanley W. Green and began as executive director in 2020, the resilience of Mission Network staff was an important encouragement within the agency. Recognizing the strain of the pandemic, we decided to meet weekly as all-staff for fellowship, scriptural devotion and mutual support. At the first of those meetings, I shared two scripture verses: 

2 Corinthians 4:8. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” (NIV) 

Isaiah 43:19. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (NRSVUE). 


At that time, we could not have imagined the pandemic would continue for two years and beyond. With God’s grace, our shared creativity and commitment has enabled us to not only survive, but to thrive. It has enabled us not only to adapt, but to innovate.

Mission Network pivoted to leverage our digital capacity to maintain and expand our programs and partnership. After months of sharing, discussion, and prayer, a shared sense that structural change was needed arose across the organization. This was never criticism of the past; rather, honoring the past, acknowledging the present, and building on our legacy to include new opportunities for us to serve the needs of our constituency and partners across the street and around the world.

Through the process, Mission Network developed a well-balanced structure with the distribution of staff. The pandemic accelerated remote and hybrid hiring, which significantly broadened the applicant pool for our job openings. Now more than ever, Mission Network staff reflect our diverse denomination with employees in various parts of the country with diverse language, racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Mission Network staff worked diligently at anti-racism training, reflection and personal growth. We launched our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Team to more systematically shape Mission Network’s continual goal to be anti-racist and interculturally competent across the agency internally and externally. The DEI Team assists the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) in reviewing and refining values, language, policies, and programs with a view to incorporate our learnings into our strategy, operations, and activities.

As we drew near to the conclusion of our realignment, we engaged in a thorough strategic planning process to prepare us for 2022-2023. We began with a review of the Mission Network Global Ends Statement, People of all cultures are transformed by Jesus Christ. This has been and continues to be our “why” statement, our purpose statement. It goes further to state, Across the street and around the world, people of all cultures encounter Anabaptist expression of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.” Partnering with conferences, congregations, and others, mission congregations and leaders are established and equipped to engage their culture and world with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.

We revitalized our organizational culture, considered new strategies, and developed a strategic budget to fuel our work. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, perseverance, prayer, and commitment, we have completed our realignment process, and we have set sail on a journey of discovery in new open waters.

Mission Network personnel respond to invitations from, and partner with, organizations to work alongside them in service. Mission Network has been walking along side partners or doing “mission with” for the past 20 years. Collaborating in mission through partnership is the very heart of how we pursue our calling as an agency of mission. 



 

We articulate our passion for mission partnership regularly in our publications such as Missio DeiEach issue is packed with mission inspiration and insight in how we serve with mutual respect with partners – like #24, The ‘M’ Word, which features Irene Weaver. The most recent one, #31 published last year, celebrates 100 years of Mennonite ministry in Argentina. From issue #1 up to the present, each booklet is a must read for gaining insight into who we are at Mennonite Mission Network. 

As we commemorate our 20th Anniversary, honoring our roots and looking ahead, I especially recommend looking at Missio Dei #22 – Walking Together in Mission. This issue provides a helpful overview of what has been and continues to be our calling and identity as an agency partnering in God’s Kingdom-building mission.


 

 

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https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4796/Making-our-way

Mike Sherrill is executive director of Mennonite Mission Network.

 

 

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