Mennonite Education Agencies announces initial plans for "the new MEA"
(Mennonite Education Agency) — Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) has identified its guiding values and strategic goals for a "new MEA" that aims to adapt to the evolving needs of education within the Anabaptist and Mennonite context. At a March meeting, the MEA board described the new MEA as "cultivating energy and synergy for the whole of Anabaptist/Christian education by communicating compelling stories, coordinating services and collaborating with partners."
"The new MEA has a greater focus on partnering and walking with schools at all levels to enable us to accomplish more by working together than any school or MEA could accomplish by working alone," said Dick Thomas, MEA board chair. This is a shift away from the primary focus on governance MEA has had since it was first created in 2002, at the beginning of Mennonite Church USA, according to Thomas.
"In the past, many of our Mennonite schools were developed by and for Mennonites. In these changing times, we understand Mennonite education to be for Mennonite students and the world," said Thomas. "Our schools will be educating the increasing numbers of people who see the Anabaptist/Christian faith as providing relevant faith understandings and life skills to be faithful Christians in our current social and global context."
Some of the goals for the new MEA include functioning in the role of "community collaborator" and bridge builder between schools, the church and world; developing a network of grassroots initiatives to connect experts in MEA-affiliated schools and educational programs with others seeking best practices; and providing training in diversity and intercultural competence on school campuses, including audits and recommendations for growth.
As part of the strategic plan, MEA and its partners — the Mennonite Higher Education Association (MHEA), the Mennonite Schools Council (MSC) and Hispanic Educational Programs (HEP) — are developing a new mission statement and vision statement to more clearly focus and guide their work together. A five-person committee was appointed to propose new statements by July 2019, based around five guiding values: Christ-centered, innovative collaboration, trustworthy relationship, culturally informed and responsiveness. These values were identified through a discernment process with the MEA board, MHEA Presidents, MSC Executive Committee, leaders of HEP and MC USA Executive Board representatives.
The preliminary draft of MEA's strategic plan that emerged out of the March meeting identified overall priorities and goals. MEA staff, including the recently appointed interim executive director, will add specific initiatives, polish language and share with all stakeholders for feedback and counsel. The hope is to present a more finalized plan to the MEA board this summer.
"We understand the strategic plan document as a 'living document' and not stagnant," said Carlos Romero, MEA executive director, who plans to end his tenure in this role in July 2019. "This plan will guide MEA as it walks with, empowers and partners with schools, conferences and educational programs in and beyond Mennonite Church USA. I am working to have things in the best possible position for the next executive director to lead MEA as it cultivates the soil, so that Anabaptist education can flourish and advance the kingdom of God."