Evana Network, an evangelical Anabaptist network of churches across the United States and Canada, has announced the appointment of Matt Hamsher as the new executive director. Hamsher had previously served as board chair for Evana and is finishing up his role as lead pastor at Longenecker Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship in northeast Ohio.
Board secretary Virginia Leichty said of the board’s decision, “It was clearly evident that Matt has a deep faith in God and a desire to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He demonstrates a calm, respectful demeanor with people, including those with whom he disagrees. He also has a deep understanding of Anabaptists. He has a broad range of connections among diverse Christian leaders and seeks to find what we have in common.”
Evana Network began in 2015 and has grown to 45 churches in the eastern United States and Canada. It has also formed partnerships with eleven mission and educational institutions, developed resources and tools for church revitalization, and bridged relationships between evangelical Anabaptist denominations. Hamsher will be sharing his vision for the future of Evana at Flourishing, an event for pastors and church leaders, in Fruitland Park, FL, February 15-19. Registration is still open for that event until the end of January.
When asked why he accepted the role, Hamsher said, “I have felt a sense of God's call throughout this process. Even though I had initially decided against applying, it kept coming up in my prayer time and then was confirmed by the encouragement and words of others at critical times in my discernment process.” Matt hopes to connect the past, present, and future as he moves Evana forward. He brings a listening ear and a leadership capacity to connect with Anabaptists from diverse backgrounds. He concluded, “I am excited to serve as Executive Director at this critical time in our history because of the opportunities that lie in front of us.” Hamsher is married to Kristina Hamsher and they have two children.
The search process began in the summer of 2018 when John Troyer, the current executive director, announced his plans to step down in the first half of 2019. The board formed a search team consisting of Terry Diener, search team chair and board member; Gene Yoder, consultant; Larissa Moore-Willard, board vice-chair; Virginia Leichty, board secretary; Sonya Miller, board member; and Carl Wiebe, pastor at Kidron Mennonite. They looked at a number of applications from both inside and outside the network, and Hamsher was selected from three finalists. The full board unanimously accepted the recommendation and made the appointment.
Larissa Moore-Willard had been serving as vice-chair of the board and will now give board and delegate leadership as the new chair. “I’m going into this with God’s vision,” she says, “to lead the board and stay the course.” Moore-Willard is a church planter and pastor and is known across the network for her prophetic gifts, her commitment to prayer, and love for the church.
Troyer will continue in his current role through April, and he and Hamsher will be working closely together. “I’m grateful for the way God brought all of this together with the transition,” Troyer said, “Evana has always been larger than any one person, and I see that in the ways lives have been changed, churches have been revitalized, and communities are being transformed. One of our greatest strengths has been the growth in cohesion and mission in our churches.” Wes Furlong, director of church development will be continuing his work with Evana’s City Flourish initiative and the Vital Impact Assessment.You can find more information about Evana Network at evananetwork.org, City Flourish at cityflourish.com and the Vital Impact Assessment at vitalimpact.church.