ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Mission Network) -- Mennonite Mission Network is renewing its commitment to be an anti-racist organization. In response to the heightened awareness of systemic racism in the United States and abroad, the mission agency is reevaluating its current internal culture and practices to become more effective and caring in its ministries.
Mission Network has hired Widerstand, a nonprofit anti-racism consulting firm, to help guide and advise the agency's transformation. Mission Network is also consulting with Roots of Justice, a nonprofit anti-racism training firm, to work directly with staff and executive leadership. Members of Mission Network's board of directors are also engaging the process.
"For Mission Network to effectively be the gospel and bring the peace of Christ into the current global context, we must embrace the challenge to acknowledge and identify how the work of dismantling oppressive systems requires both individual and collective accountability for our roles within these systems," said Mike Sherrill, executive director and CEO of Mission Network. "This is key to our growth as a mission agency prepared to fully engage the people and cultures across the street and around the world."
Commitment to anti-racism has long been encouraged, but not until 2021 has anti-racism training been a requirement of employment at Mission Network for executive leadership and staff. Intercultural competency and mutual respect have been among the agency's core ministry values and practices. In further listening to staff and ministry partners, Mission Network leadership believes a further nuance of naming and changing a culture centered on whiteness is necessary. The change will better empower Mission Network to reach its full potential as an effective faith-based international agency in the Anabaptist tradition.
Ongoing, systematic follow-up and detailed actions are vital for anti-racism practices and behaviors among all employees to permeate every aspect of the agency. Toward that end, over the next several months and beyond, executive leadership and staff will engage an intentional process to implement steps of racial justice, equity, and inclusivity in the organization.
To sustain the commitment, measurable objectives will be put in place to sustain accountability at all levels of the agency. Mission Network will collaborate with its ministry partners and congregations, with a particular emphasis on consulting Black, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian ministry partners and congregations, to better meet the needs of diverse communities.
Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, exists to lead, mobilize, and equip the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in the world. Mission Network envisions every congregation and all parts of the church being fully engaged in mission – across the street, all through the marketplaces, and around the world.