Partnership and prayer permeate convention
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C.
Delegates to the 2014 annual convention of the B.C. Conference of MB Churches at Cariboo Bethel Church, Williams Lake, May 2–3, 2014, were challenged to live out Jesus’ love and to keep Christ as their focus as Mennonite Brethren partner with others in his ministry. For the second consecutive year, regular times of concert-like prayer infused the annual gathering, guiding delegates to gather in small groups to pray on a variety of directed topics.
Cariboo Bethel participants led worship sessions, and there were frequent references to partnering in ministry, the theme of the convention. Of B.C.’s 106 MB churches, 44 were represented; however, some delegates had to absent themselves from the Saturday session to attend the Vancouver memorial service for the late beloved pastor and leader Carlin Weinhauer.
MB Mission prayer intercessor Esther Corbett led the spoken worship and prayer. Delegates clustered together to lift up Jesus’ lordship, give thanks, celebrate ministries and pray for workers for the harvest. One prayer segment included thanks for Carlin Weinhauer’s legacy. Another segment focused on the turmoil in the Ukraine, requesting protection for acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov (a Baptist pastor) and fulfillment of God’s purposes in the midst of that crisis.
Keynote speaker Laurence East, lead pastor of Kelowna’s downtown Metro Community Church, challenged delegates to demonstrate the love of Christ as Luke outlines it in 6:27–36. East shared stories on Metro’s ministry to the people who are disadvantaged and marginalized in the neighbourhood. As a church, “we need to go further.”
Metro Community “is a street church. We are under constant scrutiny,” said East. “Who is exhorting you daily to keep your heart soft? Jesus is talking about being a community, living it out together. If [you aren’t sharing life with others], you are not obeying the Sermon on the Mount.” He said, “I have learned grace from our community.”
“When we love the unlovable and press deeper into the kingdom community, the Lord overwhelms us with unexpected riches – here, today!” He urged, follow Jesus’ commands. Realize we are adopted. “We need to see we were so lost, and so loved, that he had to die for us.” He said then we can practise “radical, profligate generosity.”
Michael Dick, Bakerview, Abbotsford, moderated convention business. A member of the conference board of management, he will complete the provincial moderator term of Ron van Akker of Central Community, Chilliwack, appointed in April as BCMB assistant conference minister.
- Three new B.C. church plants – Victoria’s Beacon Communities, Vancouver’s Christ City and Kelowna’s Epic City – were formally welcomed into BCMB. Delegates formalized the closure of City on a Hill, Victoria; Emmaus, South Surrey; and South Hill, Vancouver, and two earlier closures: Urban Journey, Vancouver, and East Ridge Community Fellowship, Maple Ridge.
- A budget ceiling of $1.6-million, the current target, won delegate approval. The conference finished the year 2013 in the black, thanks to an unrestricted donation. Betty-Ann Dykshoorn, director of administration, said that without that donation, the year would have ended about $100,000 short of the budget target.
- Canadian Conference executive director Willy Reimer introduced the results of a reworked vision statement, updating the document that was last revised in the mid-1990s. He said, based on wide consultation, it has been edited many times and will undergo further work before final approval. He said the conference exists to help local churches, and “If it doesn’t help the local churches, it doesn’t help.
“We share an expectation that God wants to work through us,” Reimer said. “We must be abundantly clear that this is about Jesus. He is our king. Is Canada being reached?”
- Ron Toews, director of Resourcing Churches Developing Leaders, said the development work on Leaders2Learners is complete. “Today we can talk about what is,” he said. The interest is “not to have a platform and a bullhorn, but to come alongside and behind” pastors and leaders.
- C2C plants have seen more than 200 people baptized in B.C. Chris Douglas, C2C Network B.C. regional co-director reported that in addition to the three new church plants in 2013, C2C collaborated with planters from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and the Anglican Church to start new churches. Noting the demonstrated collaboration between Stillwood and Likely, he said, “thank you for partnership also with C2C in ministry.”
“Our heartbeat about planting churches is to see lives transformed into new lives in Christ,” said Douglas.
National C2C director Gord Fleming said, “Church planting is a small portion of what the Lord is doing. We are known as a peace-loving nation. What would the Lord do that we could be an influence globally?
He said C2C is working with 13 denominations, adding that he has never seen MBs in Canada collaborate and partner the way they are doing now.
“Mennonite Brethren is the one denomination that it seems everyone can work with,” said Fleming. “That’s because we put Christ first, not our theological differences.”
The convention ended with two songs, sung acapella, “Great is thy faithfulness” and the Doxology. And there was a standing ovation for Cariboo Bethel’s hospitality.
—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent