New shoes for SKMB director
Saskatchewan closes Gliege chapter, opens Froese
The 2014 convention of the Saskatchewan Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, held Mar. 12–15, 2014, at Forest Grove Community Church, Saskatoon, marked the end of a long chapter in the book of SKMB churches: Ralph and Grace Gliege’s ministry. Conference minister since 1992 and local pastor in Hepburn, West Portal and Woodrow before that, Gliege has been a fixture in the conference provincially and nationally and has been regarded not only as a mentor but as family by generations of Saskatchewan pastors.
In the tradition of Gliege’s trademark analogies and illustrations, director of finance and congregational services Pat Dergousoff wielded a mallet in a tribute video as he spoke of Gliege “leaving an impact on our lives.”
A processional of representatives from each church marched into the sanctuary carrying the quilt Gliege had used as an illustration at past conventions, wrapped the Glieges in it and surrounded them with prayer. Stitched with the name of each SKMB congregation, the quilt is an “‘inventory of letters’ (2 Corinthians 3:2–3) to display God’s faithfulness.”
The convention’s Friday night session was devoted to farewelling Gliege who will continue to serve until June 2014 alongside Terrance Froese, the new director of ministry affirmed and commissioned the next day.
For Gliege’s final formal address to the assembly of churches and delegates, he spoke the words of 1 Timothy from memory. “If you would take a few nuggets and put them into practice,” he said, “we would see such health.”
Celebrate the past and future
- Despite a $6,244 deficit in 2013, delegates approved an ambitious 2014 operating budget of $619,980, drawing heavily on transfers from the reserves. “We’re not here to accumulate funds; we’re here to do mission,” said Dergousoff. “We’re in a position to take strong steps forward for Christ – we ask you to join in the journey.” To meet the needs of the C2C Network arm, the budget anticipates an income of $40,000 through fundraising. “We have a PayPal account and link on our website – you should try it out and see if it works,” said Dergousoff.
- Having already been discussed at prior leadership forums, a new governance structure and constitution was approved with little discussion albeit a handful of opposing votes. Under the new governance, the executive board – answerable to the churches – sets the policies and bylaws for the director of ministry. In turn, staff and volunteer ministry (development, C2C-SK, ministry support, pastor and church health) are accountable to and support the director of ministry.
- The Saskatchewan church extension arm Harvest Saskatchewan completes its transition into a C2C Network regional team, with accountability to the national C2C leadership. It’s a shift in thinking between “caring groups” whose focus is “up and in,” to a missional community whose focus is out, said C2C Network Saskatchwan director Dwayne Barkman. One example is Forest Grove’s “Broadway” campus The Gathering which added an evening fellowship meeting and moved to a new morning location to accommodate increased attendance. Pastor Don Froese says the church is “developing a warm relationship” with the principal of the independent First Nations school that hosts Sunday morning services.
|Riverhurst, represented by pastor Doug Rempel also of Prairie Winds Church, Moose Jaw, Sask., was officially welcomed into the MB family in Saskatchewan. The congregation will hold its charter service June 1, 2014.|
Director of ministry commissioning
Gliege drew on the Kings text of Elijah passing his mantle to Elisha as he blessed Froese to continue the ministry. “Some say Terrance has big shoes to fill,” said Gliege. “But he doesn’t; I’m keeping my shoes.” Gliege made an appeal to the churches to support Terrance and Wanda Froese the way they supported him and Grace.
Froese acknowledged the way Gliege had “thrown his cloak” over him and blessed him to “do things very differently, yet we’re very unified in heart,” he said. Saskatchewan has “a family feel where we watch out for each other,” said Froese. “That’s a gift we have to give to Canada,” he said, stressing it wasn’t a superiority factor, but a “puzzle piece we have to give.”
“I’m a different leader with different priorities and values unique to this time,” said Froese, identified four priorities that will inform his leadership.
- shaping the staff team “to function like a Stanley Cup-ready hockey team.” Staff will work together in one location instead of three separate home offices.
- moving forward with systems congruent with 21st-century communication. This will include an improved web presence and more modes of online communication.
- cultivating not only “excitement for prayer,” but mobilizing pray-ers in each church to discern and intercede for local and national concerns.
- partnering with the Canadian conference “as an equal partner at the Lord’s table,” facilitating conversation, and finding unity of purpose at the local and national level.
Froese called on “good theological thinkers” to help the conference deal with “theological debates challenging us to the core.” Above all, he called for a “gospel-centred” movement: a conference that exists to inspire, empower and model Jesus in making disciples, molding leaders and multiplying missional churches.
See also “SKMB: A close-knit family”
See also an SKMB tribute video to Ralph Gliege.
Updated Mar. 24, 2014: photos and video added.
Updated Apr. 10, 2014: link to tribute video added.