Annual convention of Alberta MB churches meets in Edmonton
Alberta churches voted unanimously for an ad hoc committee to lead the conference into the future, after nomination ballots for vacant board positions were virtually empty. The 2008 Alberta MB convention, held at Lendrum MB Church Mar. 14–15, was titled “The Way Forward” – an apt moniker given the province’s ongoing ministries but exhausted governance structures.
Without a new moderator, assistant moderator, or treasurer, the conference executive was unable to continue, although they had accomplished much in the past year, including hosting the province’s first leadership development day and establishing a new provincial conference website.
“We feel God is leading us to something new… New vision calls for new structures,” said provincial moderator Gary Giesbrecht to 64 convention delegates. “Currently the lack of nominations may be a sign that God is asking us to move more rapidly. While this is risky, it’s also an exciting step of faith.”
Current executive members will appoint the ad hoc committee, called the Implementation Team, sometime in the coming months.
“I want you to know how I’m feeling,” said provincial executive minister Merv Boschman. “I’m scared. But I believe it’s the way forward for us. This can’t happen in two months.”
The team’s mandate will be to implement the findings (affirmed by delegates) of the province’s recent ReFocusing process, which was conducted with the help of Dave Jackson, Canadian conference coach for church health. The ReFocusing process allowed leaders to look back over the history of the conference, discern the current state of Alberta churches, and establish vision for the future.
Delegates expressed their support for this new direction. “We need to be increasingly missional. There are good stories from our past, but we need to change,” said Willy Reimer of SunWest Christian Fellowship, Calgary.
The Implemention Team will sort out the province’s new structure and governance, and then bring their recommendations to next year’s convention for ratification. In the meantime, they will stay in contact with churches to invite feedback and involvement.
The convention began Friday night on a high note. Despite a predicted $80,000 shortfall, churches responded to a financial plea made earlier in the year by the executive and helped the conference present a balanced 2007–2008 budget. Next year’s budget will look much the same at $248,550.
Several delegates shared personal testimonies, including Nelson Presley who told the story of how he and his wife welcomed three children into their family through open adoption. Due to the illness of one of their sons, the couple had an opportunity to build a relationship with the boy’s biological grandparents and share the gospel with them. “God has his own way of creating missions for you,” said Presley.
On Saturday, Jake Doerksen, chair of the camping ministries commission gave an update on Camp Evergreen, prompting a flurry of discussion. Camp director Rick Arkell completed his ministry at the end of January, leaving the camp without a director for the coming season. Evergreen also faces several other challenges, including governance, finances, finding people to serve on the camp commission, and overall goal-setting.
“We’re good at making plans about where we want to go, we’re not necessarily good at following through on it,” said commission representative Kerry Precht.
“Maybe it’s time for the camp to take a sabbatical,” said Merlin Enns of River West Christian Church, Edmonton. Other delegates agreed. “Is it time to put Camp Evergreen in the garage for a complete overhaul?” asked Al Quiring.
“The commission would have no pleasure in sinking a sailing ship,” said Doerksen. He asked, however, for input about future direction from constituents. Camping commission members left delegates with the poignant reminder that more than 100 young people (many from unchurched homes) met Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour last summer at Evergreen. “It would be difficult to imagine the Alberta conference without our camping ministry,” said commission representative Bob Thiessen.
- Camp Evergreen completed construction on its Welcome Centre in May 2007, and is now trying to raise $56,000 for a new ropes challenge course.
- The Alberta conference launched its website in early 2008. See www.abmb.ca for more information.
- The church extension commission reported on the status of Vision 2012.24 – the goal of seeing 24 new ministry initiatives in Alberta by the year 2012. “We have a challenge,” said Elroy Senneker. “To pray – that’s the hard work – to imagine, to dream, and to uphold the vision of the past two years.” The commission is celebrating the health of several non-English ministries (including Bethel Eritrean Evangelical Church, Edmonton; Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Calgary; House for All Nations, Calgary; and Sudanese MB Fellowship, Calgary), but is still looking to raise funds to hire a New Initiatives Coach to oversee the vision.