Trilingual brothers and sisters in unity on mission
Association des Églises des frères mennonites du Québec (AEFMQ)
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” With these words from Psalm 133, host pastor Carlos Saavedra of Les Ambassadeurs Chrétiens (Hispanique) opened the annual convention of Quebec churches (AEFMQ) Apr. 11–12, 2014, at Église chrétienne de Saint-Laurent, Montreal. “Live this verse in talking, singing, dancing,” he said.
For the first time, AEFMQ’s annual convention included a Friday night session of worship and prayer, attended by youth and delegates. Jaime Barran led his music team from Les Ambassadeurs in electric guitar-driven worship through Spanish, French and English.
Interim moderator Bruno Synnott challenged the gathering reference to 1 Chronicles. “God’s promises are still active,” Synnott said, “and he has called us to bless all nations.” Churches must take up the call to be God’s answer to problems in the world.
“We want God to breathe on our churches and fill us with his Spirit,” said conference minister Stéphane Rhéaume leading into a time of corporate prayer. In small groups, attendees prayed for church health, leadership development and ministries of mission and proclamation.
Opening Saturday’s business session, Saavedra said, be attentive; “God will speak to you today.” Reflecting on Colossians 1:15–23, he said, “If Christ is sufficient, why seek after other things? Add nothing to Jesus.”
In a workshop, Canadian conference (CCMBC) executive director Willy Reimer presented on “the sandbox” – new guiding principles for the CCMBC executive board – and challenged delegates to set an alarm to pray at 10:02 each day for “Lord of the harvest…to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).
“Leadership starts in the heart,” said Ron Toews, head of CCMBC’s Resourcing Churches Developing Leaders, drawing insights from Nehemiah while presenting on Leaders 2 Learners. “The essence of leadership isn’t how to do things, it’s loving God deeply and reflecting his holiness.”
AEFMQ executive director Gilles Dextraze held a workshop to help churches learn how to walk through the process of incorporation with help from the CQOC (a Quebec body similar to the CCCC). Dextraze recommends incorporation for churches who meet the criteria because it gives them legal status, their own charity number and responsibility for their own governance and administrative affairs.
- Synnott was approved as moderator. Church planting in the Montreal area has increased the number of churches from 10 in 2012 to 15 in 2014; however, the AEFMQ board still lacks personnel. Member-at-large Reginald Fauteux is the representative to the Canadian executive board. Synnott urged delegates to “keep prayer at the heart of the conference.”
- C2C Network Quebec has two apprentice church planters (Simon Nadeau at L’Echad and Westerne Joseph at Assemblée de la Grace), two churches in development (Communauté chrétienne L’Essentiel and Église Missionnaire de Montreal) and partners with churches from other denominations (Initiative 22, L’Église du Plateau, L’Église Connexion, Axe 21 in Sherbrooke and Magog). The C2C budget for 2014 is $336,000.
- Conference minister Stéphane Rhéaume, who resigned to focus full-time energy on his pastorate at Saint-Eustache, said Horizon Quebec funding ($900,000 received from CCMBC since November 2008) concludes in 2014. Horizon Quebec built relationships among local pastors, and between Quebec congregations and MB churches across Canada.
- Rhéaume has produced faith & life pamphlets in French and supported the translation of the Confession of Faith’s Commentary and Pastoral Application into French by Suzanne Brown of Église La Clairière, Saint-Jerome.
- “To make a disciple, you need more than a message, you need people who share their lives,” said Synnott, who also serves as youth coordinator. Camp Péniel and ETEM are important partners for developing young disciples, he said.
- Jean-Raymond Théorêt returns to ETEM as board chair. Due to the hard work of ETEM and IBVIE, there is “unprecedented cooperation” as two schools from two denominations function as one. President Kristen Corrigan announced the September 2014 launch of a Quebec City delivery site to earn a fully transferable 30-credit hour certificate of pastoral studies through weekend intensives.
- Camp Péniel has seen “an explosion of life,” said board chair Serge Lachance, presenting on behalf of directors Jason Levesque and Esther Lachance who were away on holiday after two-years without time off. Programming is increasing year-round and a summer internship saw 14–18-year-olds discipled over eight weeks.
- Mennonite Central Committee Quebec contributes to the cultivation of Anabaptist identity in Quebec, collaborating with Camp Péniel and local churches for leadership development opportunities for young people and activities supporting peace and social justice.
- Maison de Sophia, an independent women’s shelter supported in part by MCC and AEFMQ churches and the only facility of its kind in a 300-km radius (outside of Montreal), currently houses four women. With support from subsidized housing of the town of Saint-Jérôme, Maison de Sophia hopes to expand its capacity to house and support women to gain skills for independent living, says director Sylvie Plante.
Delegates passed the 2014 budget of $109,550, a reduced number after the 2013 shortfall of $38,084. They also accepted a pastor salary grid, modelled after those used in the Prairie provinces.
Saturday’s meeting was held at École de théologie évangélique de Montreal (ETEM-IBVIE) because Saint-Laurent’s building was unavailable due to six different services it hosts each weekend.
The Canadian conference board of faith and life, having just completed meetings in Montreal, was present at the convention. Ginette Bastien provided live interpretation into English on Friday night, and Xina Oukil provided simultaneous translation on Saturday.