The executive and faith and life boards of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches met in October before the Special General Meeting and biennial study conference, and again by phone in early December.
In the lead-up to the SGM, the executive board was finalizing the operations of CCMBC Legacy Fund Inc. (see over) to begin January 2018, preparing for delegate vote on a reduced 2018 operating budget for CCMBC and the merger of the C2C Network and MB Mission, working with consultant Les Stahlke to discover and place organizations who are part of the extended MB family, and affirming the work of the One Mission Partnership Task Force. Additionally, the provincial conference ministers brought a “blue sky” proposal for a regional-based structure for CCMBC’s future.
With meetings shoehorned before the convention, the board was under pressure to discern well, says interim executive director Steve Berg, but the highlight was becoming prayerfully ready for the SGM. “We were getting our hearts right about what posture we wanted to have,” says Berg.
Consultant Stahlke’s work stalled in November with a serious health complication. In December, the executive board released a small survey to be completed by all members of MB churches across Canada, a scaled-back effort to collect information to present at provincial conventions in spring, with Stahlke’s more comprehensive survey deferred until later in 2018.
Complementary to but distinct from Stahlke’s exploration of the state of the MB church in Canada today is the One Mission Partnership Task Force (OMPTF) whose mandate is to “describe what we hear from agencies about our common mission that we’re leaning into together,” says Berg. “It’s about defining our longings and desires.”
The Board of Faith and Life is also involved with the OMPTF and Stahlke’s work on the future shape of CCMBC. “What I am most encouraged with is the high level of engagement by provincial representatives,” says Ingrid Reichard, who replaced David Miller as BFL chair after a two-year hiatus.
In addition to being instrumental in planning the study conference, the BFL does the ongoing work of publishing. Current projects include an MB Herald column, the ordination booklet (re-released, also translations into French and Chinese), teaching brochures, and the re-release of Family Matters.
The BFL also reviewed the annual transformation survey results. “While we are improving or staying the same in most areas, markers of resilient pastoral leadership show consistent decrease. This is of concern to the BFL and will be on the agenda in the future,” says Reichard.
“The boards do deeply and profoundly discerning work, not just pragmatic work,” says Berg. “The boards are listening, wanting to understand what God is saying.”