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Authors call for spirituality as ‘leaven in the bread’ rather than ‘frosting on the cake’


Setting the Agenda


Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network Joint Release
March 4, 2011

Waterloo, Ont. and Scottdale, Pa. — Spirituality in the work of organizational boards needs to be seen as “leaven in the bread” rather than simply “frosting on the cake” says Rick Stiffney, co-author of Setting the Agenda: Meditations for the Organization’s Soul.

“Faith and spirituality should influence the whole of board engagement,” he adds, “and not be used simply as a perfunctory act to open and close a meeting.”

In the first part of their book, co-authors Stiffney and Edgar Stoesz provide perspectives that can help to make spirituality an integral part of board work. “The book takes a holistic approach that does not use spirituality to escape the hard decisions that boards face,” says Stoesz, “but rather to navigate through the complex issues that organizational and congregational leaders face.”

The second part of the book consists of more than 90 meditations by a variety of writers. The meditations address different moods or challenges that boards face in their work: celebrating accomplishments, facing major disappointments, contemplating a major decision, dealing with conflicts that threaten board unity, seeking wisdom and deeper spirituality. Each section ends with prayers.

“An appropriate motto for board work should be: not plan or pray, but plan and pray,” says Stoesz. “Meaningful spirituality helps to get the ownership question right,” he adds. “Boards serve in a fiduciary capacity—they do not own the organization.”

“Naming and claiming the place of faith and spirituality in governance,” says Stiffney, will lead to board decisions that “exhibit sensitivity to the mission and core values of the organization, evidence a profound commitment to stewardship, and demonstrate attention to the needs of multiple stakeholders.”

Setting the Agenda is available from Herald Press at or by calling 1-800-245-7894 (U.S.), 1-800-631-6535 (Canada). Price: $15.99 USD/$18.50 CAD.