NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) — On his first day "in the office" as executive director for Mennonite Mission Network, Mike Sherrill didn't waste any time reminding staff of God's promises to protect and restore people of faith in challenging times.
During an all-staff weekly greeting via Zoom on Monday, Aug. 3, Sherrill led staff in sharing and prayer to begin their week together with God and each other. He shared encouragement from Isaiah 43:19, which says, "See, 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."
After the gathering, Sherrill reflected, "Verse 19 prompts our awareness that God is indeed working in our world, in our agency, and in each of us. What a delight to have a few minutes together learning more about each other and drawing near to Jesus through Scripture and prayer. Mission Network exists for such a time as this."
Sherrill said the gathering of cheerful faces arrayed across the screen instantly brought a feeling of gladness into his heart, as he recognized all staff members are part of a community in pursuit of a shared calling. The Zoom gathering will occur every Monday morning for the next two months to foster relationship building and a sense of shared purpose.
"I initiated the all-staff weekly greeting as a way to cultivate togetherness, starting the week present to each other seeking the Lord's peace and grace for the week," he said. "Scripture, connecting and prayer are the three components of our time."
Amongst the many staff members who attended the gathering were Haiam Gendi, Mission Network's Church Relations coordinator, and Wil LaVeist, Mission Network's senior executive for Advancement and chief communications officer for Mennonite Church USA. They said they felt encouraged by Sherrill's robust spiritual focus and collaborative attitude.
"I appreciate that Mike started his role with prayer and Scripture," Gendi said. "The fact that he is doing this for two months assures me that he desires to lead the agency by putting God and his word first, by leaning on the Holy Spirit and seeking direction together."
LaVeist said, "It was great that Mike brought us all together and mentioned each of us by name as he prayed. One of his strengths is conveying enthusiasm."
Stanley W. Green, the agency's first leader since its formation in 2002, passed the baton to Sherrill on Aug. 1. Prior to his new role, Sherrill, an ordained educator, scholar, administrator and leader with 25 years of global experience, was Mission Network's director of Asia and Middle East since 2017.
Sherrill has had a 30-year professional and spiritual journey that prepared him for being at the helm of the agency. For example, as director, he supervised and nurtured partnerships in 20 countries. Prior to this directorship, Sherrill and his family lived in Japan for nearly 25 years. While a mission worker under Mission Network, he served in Christian higher education as professor, campus pastor, and board member of two universities and a Christian nonprofit organization.
"We anticipate a smooth, uninterrupted leadership transition with Mike's long-term experience as a missionary and his recent administrative leadership position," said Mission Network board chair and search committee member Madeline Maldonado. "We are grateful to Mike for listening to and answering God's call to lead."
Sherrill graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, with an MDiv in Theology. He also earned two advanced degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, a ThM and PhD, both in Intercultural Studies. He and his wife, Teresa, Enrollment and Financial Aid specialist and administrative assistant for !Explore at AMBS, are members of East Goshen (Indiana) Mennonite Church.
They have three children, Isaiah (23), Jeremiah (21), currently attending Goshen College, and Sophia (18), enrolled for fall term at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He and Teresa were ordained in 2000 by the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference.