It has been good to see the healthy engagement and conversation regarding the closure of the MB Herald and the launch of a new publication and web strategy.
The declining level of engagement with the Herald and the desire to have a denominational periodical that fully reflects the mission to which we are called as Canadian Mennonite Brethren have motivated changes to the editorial direction of the Herald in recent years. The decision to change to a new publication represents our desire to create a new forum for missional conversation that will engage the next generation of Mennonite Brethren readers.
Although strategic thinking about the Herald has been ongoing for several years, the public notice of change came suddenly and appeared hasty to some. Adding to the loss some feel with this decision, we didn’t announce what the new publication would look like.
We had originally intended to conduct a series of strategic planning meetings with our denominational partners, which would have allowed for more clarity about future plans before making any announcement about the Herald.
However, financial constraints accelerated the timeline for change. Concern about government subsidy for the Herald, and the necessity to cut spending in the national conference budget meant that action was urgent, and we needed to inform staff of the results of coming changes. This made it impossible to prevent the news from spreading, and we wanted to ensure our
constituency heard the information directly from us.
From the feedback we’ve received, it is clear we misread the sentiments associated with the Herald. We underestimated the feelings people had toward the Herald as a vehicle for creating community. We did not provide a mechanism that would invite participation in the process of moving from the Herald to a new publication and communication plan. It was wrong to assume that we as leaders had the support to execute such a change to fulfill the vision of our MB churches without constituency consultation. We apologize for taking action without more dialogue.
Therefore, we will continue to publish the Herald until we do more process work. We will use focus groups and surveys to communicate with Herald readers, pastors and denominational leaders, in order to shape the publication and communication plan.
To start, we have commissioned a survey to gain feedback on the needs and interests of our constituency. We will present the survey results at our October AGM along with an opportunity to feed into the communication plan development process.
It is our intention for the periodical of our Canadian MB churches to equip and inspire Mennonite Brethren as disciples of Jesus Christ. We strongly believe that we need new and proactive ways to cultivate discipleship among Canadian Christ followers, and a new periodical will be an important part of meeting this need.
The following priorities guide our planning:
Strengthening theological identity and engagement.
The periodical serving Canadian MB churches will be the voice for our theological identity as Mennonite Brethren, led by the thinking and writing of the Board of Faith and Life, and allowing for healthy engagement with important issues in light of the gospel. Many Herald readers assumed that whatever was printed in the magazine’s pages was the “official position of the conference,” which created joy and worry in equal amounts. While we need space for theological engagement, it is important to provide a forum that encourages conversation without creating theological confusion for readers.
Community building and inspiration.
Canadian MB churches are not connected in the same way they once were. They have little way of knowing what is happening in other churches across the country. It is very important that we tell the stories of God’s work in and through our churches and attendees.
Ministry equipping and communication.
CCMBC has an approved ministry model that brings together our national ministries, programs, provincial conferences, MBBS Canada and MB Mission. It will be beneficial for our constituency to know what God is doing through these ministries, and to learn about the resources available to our members and leaders for their growth and ministry effectiveness.
Inspiration in faith and life.
Our goal is inspirational writing with a focus. We want to glorify God and his work among and through us by providing discipleship material to readers.
The CCMBC Executive Board and Board of Faith and Life have heard your concerns and are committed to working with you to accomplish our mission of multiplying Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.
Harold Froese, CCMBC Moderator
Brian Cooper, BFL Chair
Willy Reimer, Executive Director