Mandated with the broad and ongoing task of upholding ethical and biblical integrity, the board of faith and life meetings never lack a full agenda. At the winter meetings, Jan. 27–28, 2015, in Abbotsford, B.C., the BFL tackled three major items.
Pastors and leaders had filled out surveys on the Confession of Faith in 2014. “There was generally high support,” says vice chair Ingrid Reichard, but three articles (5, 8, 13) emerged as requiring “a facelift; review and update,” adjustments to “better or more accurate” wording with sensitivity to today’s language.
“It’s important to focus on the process,” says chair Brian Cooper. A committee of Cooper, Keith Poysti and Paul Loewen was commissioned to “engage people in our conference in conversations that will lead to revisions.”
The October study conference, the second on the topic of human sexuality is fast approaching. The BFL will release a study paper (18 pages) with questions for Bible study and deeper engagement, and theological and cultural background to invite churches to engage with material in advance. The document is slated for online release through the Canadian conference website on Apr. 1, 2015.
Due to interest from pastors and congregations with varying understanding of practice, the BFL is working on a statement on ordination. “We’ve not had broadly consistent teaching, messaging, practice and policy on the issue of ordination. This is a theological resource we need to address,” says Cooper. A “concise, recent restatement” is slated for release in summer.
The BFL also takes leadership in the annual pastor credentialing orientation which is undergoing some overhaul in response to provincial conference minister’s assessment of need. The upcoming June event in Winnipeg “will have a different look and feel” than in the past. The same content, but “less classroom,” says Cooper. Storytelling and interaction with local churches will be part of capturing history and learning theology hands-on.
Empty chairs remain at the BFL table for one member-at-large, and provincial representatives from Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan have not been confirmed due to changes at the local level. In the interim, Saskatchewan BFL team leader Greg Bright attended the meetings.