Despite structural uncertainties ahead, the Board of Faith and Life is running full steam ahead under its mandate of providing spiritual watch care over the theology of Canadian Mennonite Brethren churches, at their meetings Feb 9–10, 2018.
Beginning with Article 8 on baptism – an issue that has seen diverging practices in local MB churches over the past 20 years – the BFL is beginning a review process on the Confession of Faith (1999). “Initially, the intention was to review only the commentary and pastoral application sections of the Confession,” says chair Ingrid Reichard, “but we will look at the wording of the articles as well. The goal is to ensure the phrasing is clear and speaks to the issues of today.”
An action team was struck to propose a process that includes constituent participation, to be presented at Gathering 2018.
“We’re looking forward to reinvigorated conversation around the Confession of Faith which is quite a remarkable document,” says Reichard. “We want to make the Confession of Faith living and relevant because it is constantly under conversation.”
After Baptism, the next articles for consideration are likely Article 5 on Salvation and 13 on Love and Nonresistance.
Reviewing the collaborative model (see video here) the One Mission Partnership Task Force presented to the executive board, the BFL “affirmed that it should facilitate increased national-provincial collaboration and communication, provide greater clarity in who is providing services to churches, and is more church and province driven than executive driven,” says Reichard. “The BFL is encouraged in observing the desire of the executive to patiently communicate the collaborative model at provincial levels and to listen carefully to the feedback.”
Considering that the new model anticipates a heightened role for the BFL in creating a theological centre, consistency, and community, the members examined their deliverables over the next two years to evaluate which voices and expertise are missing around the table to address the needs of the new structure.
“I hope the BFL will move to more of a strategically oriented model so we can support the Canadian MB family well,” says Reichard. “We would love for people to pray for the BFL that God would give the right people, energies, clarity, and direction to accomplish all that is on our plate.”
At this meeting, the BFL said goodbye to Brian Cooper, who has served for eight years including in the roles of vice chair and chair. (See chart below for board openings.)
The BFL also had a conversation about what faithfulness to the Confession of Faith looks like in a congregation and how provincial bodies can continue to “do good pastoral with the churches” to identify those markers.
Evaluations of the recent EQUIP study conference were positive, with 90 percent ratings in the good or excellent category. The next study conference (October 2019), in Ontario, is slated to examine Mennonite Brethren approaches to application of Scripture in our context (hermeneutics) in in Ontario. More extended “on-ramping and off-ramping” will be encouraged, including more events and mediums for continued engagement with the study conference materials in local contexts.
Due to a coincidence of location, the BFL shared a lunch and brief presentation with the ICOMB executive who were also meeting to plan structural changes for the future. “It was great to see that God is moving everywhere,” says Reichard. “We have this common passion to bring people in relationship with God and grow them up to be solid followers of Jesus.”
|Paul Loewen||interim vice chair||Alberta|
|Rob Thiessen||secretary &
provincial conference minister
|Laurence Hiebert||provincial representative||Alberta|
|Gerald Dyck||provincial conference minister||Manitoba|
|Christine Longhurst||provincial representative||Manitoba|
|Ed Willms||provincial conference minister / executive director||Ontario|
|David Miller||provincial representative||Quebec|
|Phil Gunther||provincial conference minister /
director of ministry
|Ben Kramer||provincial representative||Saskatchewan|
|Robyn Serez||member at large||Ontario|
|Andrew Dyck||MB Seminary appointee|
|Awaiting appointment||C2C/ MB Mission appointee|
|Awaiting appointment||provincial representative||B.C.|
|Awaiting appointment||provincial representative||Atlantic Canada|
|Awaiting appointment||provincial representative||Ontario|
|Awaiting appointment||member at large|