MC USA Executive Board Responds with Open Letter
By Sue Conrad Howes
On Saturday, January 28, 2023, Mosaic’s Moderator Angela Moyer Walter and Assistant Moderator Roy Williams met virtually with the Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board, a 15-member volunteer board that guides the denomination and supervises the MC USA Executive Director.
During the meeting, Moyer Walter and Williams shared a timeline of Mosaic Conference since 2007. In that timeline, the MC USA Executive Board learned about the growth of recent-immigrant churches, the addition of California and Florida congregations, reconciliation work between Eastern District and Franconia Mennonite Conferences, Mosaic’s experiences at the MC USA Special Assembly in Kansas City in May 2022, and the development and implementation of the Pathway Forward document in the fall of 2022.
This meeting was a follow-up to an open letter that the Mosaic Moderators sent to the MC USA Executive Board on November 15, 2022. After receiving the letter, MC USA’s Executive Board invited the Mosaic Moderators to meet with them face-to-face. During the course of the meeting, Moyer Walter and Williams read portions of the open letter to the Executive Board.
“It was good that we read parts of the letter; it was honest and accurate,” said Moyer Walter. “They heard the hurts, the pain, and the frustration.”
After 20 minutes of presentation, Moyer Walter and Williams invited questions and conversation. When the 45 minutes of allotted time was over, the Executive Board extended the time by 15 minutes. At the end of the hour, everyone acknowledged that the conversation could have continued for much longer.
Moyer Walter reported that the Executive Board acknowledged the information gained from the timeline was helpful in their understanding of Mosaic today. They also affirmed Mosaic’s 2-year time frame for the Pathway Forward process.
Moyer Walter asked the Executive Board, in light of this deeper level of understanding, “Is there room for Mosaic’s diverse perspective within MC USA?” The Executive Board overwhelmingly responded “yes.” Moyer Walter therefore invited MC USA to more engagement with Mosaic Conference over the next two years.
Although the time for discussion was limited, Moyer Walter reported that she and Williams felt heard, the Spirit was present, and the response from members of the MC USA Executive Board was kind. At the same time, the conversation needs to continue. “It is very difficult to try to speak as Mosaic in such a short time frame. Mosaic has multiple things to say to MC USA leadership,” said Moyer Walter. “I’m aware that we need to honor all our Mosaic voices, and that can be tricky. I felt like we were able to do that as best we could.”
Moyer Walter knows that some members of Mosaic Conference desired for her to express their anger to MC USA leaders. She is willing to share that anger, but wants to work at understanding what is underneath the anger, to articulate the complicated layers of frustration and hurt. “We want to be a people of peace and reconciliation and to bear witness to the good news of Jesus,” shared Moyer Walter. “We bear witness to Jesus by how we manage conflict. That does not mean that we are weak or spineless but that we are honest and take time to listen and honor each other.”
In reflecting on the time spent with MC USA’s Executive Board, Williams said, “We are family. We may not always get along, but we are still family. We do not hide from conflict, but we commit to working with each other for better understanding in the future.”
After the meeting, MC USA’s Executive Board formally responded to Mosaic’s open letter by publishing an open letter of their own (also available in Spanish, Indonesian and Vietnamese).
Sue Conrad Howes
Sue Conrad Howes is part of the communication team for Mosaic Mennonite Conference. She is an ordained pastor in MC USA and is a chaplain at St.Luke’s Penn Foundation. She and her husband live in Quakertown, PA and are members at West Swamp Mennonite Church.