For the past two years, Sandy Miller has pushed for increased consistency in how Mennonite Mission Network relates to its global partners, including the United States. As the new senior executive of Resourcing and Mobilization, she is seeing that become reality.
Resourcing and Mobilization is a new division within Mission Network that encompasses relationships with congregations and short-term mission programs like MVS, Service Adventure, and SOOP. In her new position, Miller will facilitate deeper networking with Mission Network's partners in the United States in ways that are similar to how the agency relates to its partners across the globe.
"I'm excited!" Miller said. "A lot of the current resourcing and mobilizing is helping to connect people in missional leadership, so that they know who they can contact to help them plant new churches, work at discipleship, or open new service units."
Miller said that she is always thinking about what networking is—it is, after all, part of Mission Network's name. She wants to help mobilize people to be involved in mission and ministry—not just leaders, but people in the pew as well.
Before starting at Mission Network, Miller served as minister of worship and music at Yellow Creek Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana, where she used her gifts of music to minister to the congregation for 11 years.
Miller joined Mission Network in 2005 as the ministry support teams coach and the assistant for the senior executive of Advancement. She was the project coordinator for mission banks, one of Mission Network's most recognizable resources.
After that, Miller became the director for Church Relations and helped create the current department structure that enables representatives to serve conferences across the country and in missional and resourcing roles.
Miller holds an MDiv in Christian Formation from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. She believes this degree is one of her greatest successes. "Working full-time as a mother, grandmother and wife, I was successful in my studies and proved that my life experiences had indeed equipped me with the drive to accomplish my goal of getting a seminary degree," Miller said.
Staff members who have worked closely with Miller speak highly of her ability to inspire the building of partnerships with constituents, as well as teamwork within the organization itself.
"Sandy believes that the kingdom of God is expressed through all people groups and believes that partnership starts with our trust in following Christ," said Ann Jacobs, a Church Relations representative for Mission Network.
Miller encourages and welcomes the gifts that the Church Relations staff express and how those gifts serve the broad and diverse community of the church, she said.
"This [new position] will enable her to be a part of Mission Network's visioning work at the top level of decision making," said Marisa Smucker, director of Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS). MVS is a service program of Mission Network.
Smucker previously served full-time as a Church Relations representative before beginning her work with MVS. She will continue to work closely with Miller as a half-time Church Relations representative and half-time as the director of MVS.
"[Miller] has consistently encouraged me to utilize my own unique gifting with pastors and church leaders, while effectively reminding me or challenging me to work on areas that help the department as a whole to our goals," Smucker said. "She encourages teamwork and allows any of us to take the lead when she feels that it benefits the work that we do with our partners."
Susan Nisly, director for Service Adventure, another Mission Network service program, said she is enthusiastic about working with Miller and the new division. "I appreciate her passion for her work, and I like her enthusiasm toward the new division," Nisly said. "I think she will be a leader with a lot of heart and someone who really wants to support and encourage her staff."
Miller has assumed her position in the executive cabinet and joined several meetings and a retreat in early August.
Miller is optimistic about her new position and the future of Mission Network as she uses her past experience and current learning opportunities to help move Mission Network forward, she said.
"I have a lot to learn about how Christian Service has functioned in the past," Miller said. "What is it that we believe about young people in the church about service? How do we communicate that in ways that encourages service as part of our DNA as a church?"
"As [part of] a mission organization started by a grassroots group that is still relating to grassroots initiatives, I believe God has a place for me and for this organization in building God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven."