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Gracious and dedicated service


With Assembly 2012, Andrew Reesor-McDowell completed his term of service as Moderator for Mennonite Church Canada’s General Board, a role he has held for 4 years. For the past 39 years he has been dedicated to a wide variety of volunteer positions and has been employed in the children’s mental health field, first as a group home parent with his wife, Joanna, and for the past 33 years, until his retirement on June 30, 2012, as director at a children’s mental health centre in Toronto. The couple has two adult sons; Martin, and Allan, who plans to marry Winnie Siu this summer.

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July 12, 2012
-Deborah Froese

Winnipeg, MAN. — Any conversation with Andrew Reesor-McDowell garners his undivided attention. He listens intently and responds thoughtfully, allowing dialogue partners to know that they—and their contributions—are important. This gracious and meticulous approach to others has shaped Reesor-McDowell’s service as Moderator to Mennonite Church Canada’s General Board for the past four years.

“I have greatly appreciated Andrew’s servant leadership,” says Willard Metzger, Executive Director, Mennonite Church Canada, describing Reesor-McDowell’s non-anxious style and his willingness to serve. “Andrew took the call of the church seriously and served it with great energy and commitment.”

Reesor-McDowell has been on the General Board since 2000, where he originally served on behalf of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) as moderator of the Area Church. Moderating Assembly 2012 on behalf of the General Board was his final official duty.

His track record shows a strong commitment to service.  At 20 years of age, Reesor-McDowell served as the President of the Mennonite Youth Fellowship in the former Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec (now MCEC).  Since that time he has participated on various councils and boards of churches, counselling institutions, and church organizations from Mennonite World Conference (MWC) to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

He credits his parents, Emerson and Elsie McDowell, with instilling in him a desire to serve.  “My mother has a wonderful ability to welcome the “stranger” and relate to people who feel they are on the margin,” he says. His father, a pastor, was deeply involved with children’s camping ministries—perhaps the motivation for the years that Reesor-McDowell provided leadership to camps at Fraser Lake and Glenbrook.

One of the most concerning aspects of his tenure with the General Board has been the downward trend in financial contributions, and the resulting budget reductions in 2004 and 2011. “This is very difficult and we have lost excellent people and programs in this process,” he noted in an email interview.

Despite such challenges, he has been inspired by the work of the national church, particularly the Being a Faithful Church process (BFC). “Part of the gospel work is dealing with difficult issues. In the BFC process we are increasing our capacity to work directly with difficult issues.  I am very pleased with the developments.”

Reesor-McDowell says he is grateful for the opportunity to serve as Moderator, a role he views as a calling. He accepted the responsibility trusting that God would provide what was needed—like “incredibly gifted, generous and committed leaders, Jack Suderman and Willard Metzger, and a thoughtful and wise General Board.”

Hilda Hildebrand, Assistant Moderator, says that she is grateful for Reesor-McDowell’s generosity and consensus-building style.  “He invites all into the conversation, then from a diverse range of perspectives, thoughtfully seeks to weave together the threads of common ground, testing as he goes along to ensure integrity. It’s been a joy to work alongside Andrew. He has a quiet strength grounded in a deep faith and love for the church.”

Past General Secretary (Executive Director) Robert J. Suderman says that few people recognize the depth of Reesor-McDowell’s commitment and sacrifice. “Most of the meetings and assemblies he has attended and led have been done on his holiday time from his full-time work. And he has done this for many years.”

Reesor-McDowell may be leaving the role of moderator, but his relationship with the national church will go on. “I will continue to pray daily for our staff, the General Board and the leaders of our supporting ministries, and trust that God will provide what is needed to build the church as it shares the gospel.”

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012