Many-tongued worshippers united in Christ
Quebec Conference of MB Churches annual convention/
Association des Églises des Frères Mennonite de la province Québec, Apr. 13, 2013
In the opening meditation of the Quebec conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (AEFMQ) convention, Apr. 13, host pastor David Manafo (Westside Gathering) said Christ-followers have the identity of children of love and children of light (Ephesians 5:1–2, 8).
“In Christ, we don’t move into a new environment; we move into being new people,” said Manafo.
We don’t shift from being in darkness to light, but of darkness to light, he said. As children of Christ himself, how might we live differently if we remember that “every person we lock eyes with longs for that identity shift?” Manafo challenged.
The gathering at Westview Bible Church (rented for the day’s proceedings) received the covering of God’s presence, invoked in French, English, Spanish, Khmer, and Indonesian, with open arms.
Outgoing AEFMQ board president Ginette Bastien likened the conference to a car – a Fiat: “a little car, with panache!” Driven by a small engine (the board), it established bylaws approved by convention vote, and presented a 5-year strategic plan responding to the essential questions of “which services to offer to what people in which places in what order of priority.”
“It’s important to know what our direction is,” said Carlos Saavedra, pastor, Église Les Ambassadeurs Chrétiens (Hispanique), encouraging members to read the 27-page document.
AEFMQ executive director Gilles Dextraze called on churches to incorporate individually, according to the advice of Conseil Québécois d’Organismes Chrétiens, a cognate organization to CCCC. He cited advantages of having a legal existence before government, including an identity not dependent on the government’s approval of the conference, and increased profile and strength as a religious organization.
Farewells and welcomes were observed on the board and in churches.
- Ginette Bastien stepped down from three years as president of the board (consisting of Sainte-Thérèse pastor Robert Dagenais, Saint-Eustache pastor Bruno Synnott, and new member and representative to the CCMBC executive Sainte-Thérèse member Réginald Fauteaux). There was no nomination for president at press time.
- The dual MB Mission and youth activities coordinator position has been vacant since June 2012 when Vincent Gamache (L’Intersection Terrebonne) stepped down.
- Also in June 2012, bookkeeper Lyne Renaud left her position; Yvon Descormiers (Église Nouvelle Vie) took charge of accounting in fall.
- Peter Brown came from two decades of ministry in France to pastor La Clairière (Saint-Jérôme) in October.
- Terry Sawatzky (previously Elmwood MB lead pastor), who came to Quebec under the C2C aegis in summer, was introduced and welcomed as a church worker.
Cheers greeted the unveiling of the C2C spring brochure translated into French.
- Chris McGregor, C2C intern at The Living Room church, is readying to launch CityChurch in the midtown/Côte-des-Neiges region in partnership with the Southern Baptists. A weekly fellowship of anglophones, francophones, and hispanophones has been gaining momentum since January.
- Haitian pastor Jean-Westerne Joseph and a young ETEM student, Simon Nadeau, will go through the C2C planter assessment in May 2013.
Sainte-Rose pastor Martin Lanthier urged that efforts be made to plant more French-language churches; C2C director Patrice Nagant lamented the difficulty of finding francophone workers.
Despite some unmet giving expectations, and aided by transfers from CCMBC reserves, Dextraze presented a balanced budget for 2013: $153,600 for AEFMQ, $181,970 for Horizon Quebec, and $314,650 (mostly from national funds) for Réseau C2C Québec.
Ministry, agency, and partner reports
Horizon Quebec is in its fifth year as an initiative to strengthen and support healthy development of churches. Provincial conference minister Stéphane Rhéaume administers the ReFocusing process to build the churches of the future today, and facilitates four pastor luncheons for training and encouragement over the year. Canadian conference funds are committed to support the program until 2014.
Danielle Lajeunesse, continuing education coordinator, hosted several study days, oversaw translation and updating of Martha Wall’s Tutti Frutti children’s Sunday school curriculum into French, and pursued connections between churches, the conference, and related agencies.
Jean Bieri reported that Le Lien is eager to publish more material from francophone MB writers, and the board of faith and life is pleased to announce the French-language release of the BFL pamphlets on baptism, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage. Work is also underway to translate the Confession of Faith pastoral commentary and application into French.
The BFL also shepherded development of a new Montreal fellowship, L’Essentiel, a dialogue-based approach to church, meeting Sunday mornings in the facilities at ETEM.
President Kristen Corrigan likened École de Théologie Évangélique de Montréal (ETEM) to SuperMario: meeting and conquering obstacles. Funding from CCMBC and much greater revenue per course from the accreditation relationship with Laval University have ameliorated the financial difficulties; a new student recruitment system is having an impact on the number and variety of students; and empty rental space in the building is now filled by fellow ministries MCC Quebec and FAREL (a Reformed Bible college). Bastien shared about a young woman from her church who has grown more confident and discerning in her faith through her studies in the new 19/24 student discipleship program.
Camp Péniel directors Jason Levesque and Esther Lachance exude enthusiasm for the growth of the camp. In their first year as directors, Peniel hosted several rentals, MCC’s AmiCamp week, the AEFMQ pastor retreat; officialized its mission and vision; and starting making improvements to cabins and lodges. The directors’ long-term vision includes extending the number of programmed camp weeks, increasing camper capacity, developing closer relationships with churches through congregational ambassadors, and continuing infrastructure improvements on the site.
MCC Quebec director Muriel Queval reported on the agency’s ongoing activities and urged people to volunteer at the Truth and Reconciliation national event, Apr. 24–27. It’s an opportunity to be a Christian presence, to hear an Aboriginal perspective, and to build Aboriginal-church relationships: “there is work to do,” she said.