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Ben Sprunger appointed new interim head of MPN


Mennonite Church Canada/MC USA/MPN joint release
March 13, 2003
-by Jim Harder (419-358-3445, e-mail:

SCOTTDALE, Pa. (MPN) – Ben E. Sprunger, recently retired president of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), has been appointed interim executive director of Mennonite Publishing Network (formerly Mennonite Publishing House).

He will assume the position in mid-March, succeeding Phil Bontrager, who has held the position since July 2002 but must now move on to other obligations.

In making the appointment, the MPN board anticipates that Sprunger will lead the restructured denominational publishing organization for several months, until an ongoing search process for a permanent executive director is concluded.

“We are fortunate that Ben is available for a short-term assignment like this,” said Ron Sawatsky, chair of the interim MPN board. “He brings a wide range of leadership experience and knowledge of our constituency to this task. We look forward to his ministry in this new role.”

Sprunger, who lives in Worthington, Ohio, has held many leadership positions throughout his career. He served for the past nine years as president and CEO of MEDA, an organization with 3,500 U.S. and Canadian members and 180 staff worldwide. Prior to that, he headed Life Skills International, Quest International and the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and Universities. He served as president of Bluffton (Ohio) College from 1972 to 1977. He holds a doctorate in education from Michigan State University.

In addition, Sprunger brings significant denominational experience, including knowledge of the publishing agenda. He served 12 years on the General Conference Commission on Education and chaired the Faith & Life Press board. He also served 12 years on the General Conference Mennonite Church General Board.

“The financial restructuring of MPN will have essentially been completed by Phil Bontrager before he leaves,” Sawatsky said. “Ben’s primary tasks will be to solidify the newly emerging organizational culture at MPN, and to take the next steps in strengthening MPN’s ties with our churches, area conferences and publishing partners in the United States and Canada.”

Sprunger is available to Mennonite Publishing Network under contract from MRN Ministry Resources (formerly Mennonite Resources Network), a consulting and resourcing ministry.

At this time of transition, the MPN board expressed “enormous gratitude” to Sprunger’s predecessor, Phil Bontrager.

“Phil answered our call and spent considerable time away from his wife and children during a time when he had really planned to be closer,” Sawatsky said. “For eight very challenging months, Phil has given unstintingly of his business skills, time and energy to the publishing arm of the church. He has brought a new sense of excellence, open communication and financial control to the organization, and has helped to build our credibility in the constituency. We are grateful to God for Phil’s many contributions.”

Jim Harder is secretary/treasurer of the MPN interim board.