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Suderman to succeed Nighswander as General Secretary


Dr. Robert J. (Jack) Suderman

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Aug 26, 2005
-by Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — The General Board of Mennonite Church Canada has announced the appointment of Dr. Robert J. (Jack) Suderman to the post of General Secretary. He will succeed outgoing General Secretary Dr. Dan Nighswander, who served in the post since 1999.

Esther Peters, Assistant Moderator, made the announcement to staff on behalf of the General Board and search committee. Peters noted that the Search Committee and the General Board unanimously supported the decision. Together with staff, Peters offered a prayer of guidance and blessing for Suderman.

Suderman has served the Mennonite Church in Canada since 1996, most recently as executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada Witness, the mission and outreach ministry of the national church. He has nine years of experience at the executive leadership level, and played a key role in the transformation process of the former bi-national General Conference Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church to Mennonite Church Canada.

Suderman noted that the shift will trigger a “domino effect” as Witness will seek a successor for his current role as executive secretary of Witness. “I feel that my own energy and vision for what Witness can be had not yet been exhausted. I was looking forward to continuing to lead this department. However, the encouragement, from so many quarters, to consider this other position, has simply been too strong to ignore. At some point I felt that I did need to listen to these voices from the church,” he said. Suderman invited prayers for this time of transitional adjustment.

In response to the announcement, Suderman said that the agenda for Mennonite Church Canada, though simple, has complex implications.

To be “… a Mennonite church within Canada as well as a church for the world from a Canadian base [is a] simple agenda, but also very complex and complicated. We need all the gifts we can muster, and more,” Suderman said, alluding to the confidence he placed in his staff colleagues.

As a founding chair or director of five organizations in Canada and Colombia, Suderman has used his extensive experience as a teacher, principal, facilitator, and consultant to hone his leadership, administrative, and team building skills. In recent years he has enjoyed keeping abreast of the evolving church by teaching various courses in theology in Canada and Latin America.

Suderman is fluent in Spanish, having completed his doctoral studies in the Spanish language in Bogotá, and has authored several books in Spanish and English, as well as numerous papers, articles, and curricula. He has served in international ministry in Bolivia, and Colombia, and has worked and lived in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Henry Krause, Moderator for Mennonite Church Canada, said, “I am very pleased with the decision to appoint Jack Suderman as the next General Secretary for Mennonite Church Canada. Jack’s rich experience working with the church in Canada and globally will be a real asset as he assumes this new role. His passion for the church and vision for the future will help us as a national church to continue to move into what God is calling us to.”

The transition from Nighswander to Suderman will begin in September. Suderman, who will officially begin in the role on Dec 1, noted his gratefulness for Dan Nighswander’s significant contributions of energy and devotion to the formative years of Mennonite Church Canada.

Suderman is married to Irene (Penner). They have three married sons: Derek and Rebecca (Zoe), Bryan and Julie (Matthew), and Andrew and Karen, all of home reside in Ontario.