Money hatches ministry
Harold Froese: Moderator
Harold Froese became moderator of the MB churches of Canada at Gathering 2014. Harold is an egg farmer, a director on the Manitoba Egg Farmers’ board and a half-time farm loans account manager for Access Credit Union.
Although he served as the Manitoba conference moderator for five years prior, you may not have noticed this quiet businessman. MB Herald copy editor Angeline Schellenberg sat down with Harold to hear his heart for the church and the conference’s new mission statement: “CCMBC exists to multiply Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.”
How did God prepare you to be a leader?
Looking back, God was at work in my life, sometimes in spite of me.
People have mentored me. Since I was 10, I have been at Fort Garry MB Church, Winnipeg. In my teens, my life wasn’t going in a positive direction, but God didn’t give up on me.
I met my life partner, Jocelyn, who has been with me 41 years. Without her support, I wouldn’t have been able to do half of what I’ve been doing. She did a lot of the work managing the farm and raising our four children while I’ve
My dad was part of a group of 5,000 that got out of Russia under the wire in 1930; that instilled in me a gratitude for life in North America, how privileged we are to worship as we choose.
It was never on my bucket list to be on Manitoba or Canadian conference boards. I started in leadership roles at Fort Garry in my late 20s because people encouraged me. I fell in love with the role of supporting pastors, and that stayed with me.
I’m not the type of person who feels God calling them to do a certain thing. I’m not wired that way. It’s often other people saying, “Why don’t you…?” If I can’t find a reason not to do it, I often end up doing it.
What drives you?
The fact that we have a pension plan for our pastors – hundreds of pastors. It’s a positive thing God is doing through us as the MB church in Canada. Many pastors in my generation don’t have adequate pension benefits. It bothers me because part of our responsibility is to look after our staff.
When I see a page of numbers, I see a page of ministry. To see a ministry flourish because we could finance their church is great.
On the Vancouver bus tour last year at Gathering 2014, I interacted with church planters who felt God leading them to parts of cities where I wouldn’t choose to live. That spoke to me: the fact that we as a denomination would be involved in supporting their work financially, through C2C, seminary and L2L resources.
It’s not about me, or the board; it’s about discerning the plans God has to enhance ministry on the ground. We’re trying to put more and more decision-making authority in the hands of the local church, regardless of where the money comes from. That excites me!
How does the new mission statement resonate for you?
It resonates for me because it talks about growth. Sometimes we get hung up on numerical growth, but it’s about discipleship growth. The Bible tells us to keep growing as long as we’re on earth. I feel God calling us into many types of societies. Working with many more denominations across Canada.
How do you see the MB church changing?
I sense an openness. It may be challenging for those of us who are used to doing things a certain way, but God’s mission is for everybody. I see only opportunities.
I was blessed by the fact that there are more Chinese MB churches in Canada than there are total MB churches in some of our provinces. The Board of Faith and Life is translating the confession of faith into Chinese languages.
At provincial conventions this year, there was more “we” language: not “national office,” or “provincial conference,” or “C2C,” but “we.”
We tended as a national board and provincial conferences to do our own things. Lots of good things were happening, but we came to the realization that it’s better if we work together. Rather than us as national saying a program is good and encouraging the provinces to do it, we’re asking the churches and provinces, “What are the needs on the ground?”
Some things make sense for national to do; payroll for example. We work in background resourcing. We can use the strength of our resources to help.
For example, some 15 denominations are working with C2C. God has done such a great work that all those groups are coming to our small denomination for help.
What challenges are we facing?
The doors are opening quicker than financial resources are coming. The mission is catching on, but our financial support isn’t keeping up. That creates opportunities for how we communicate the message of what God is doing.
My parents’ generation, now in their 70s and 80s, give because they were taught to give, and the church is their first call. Successive generations give to projects they’re connected with. We need to make people aware of good things the seminary and L2L are doing; for example, that a pastor in Alberta and a pastor in Ontario can support each other through L2L’s website.
What opportunities do you see?
The Legacy Investments Inc. fund we’re developing is a great opportunity because the demand for mortgage financing in Canada
continues to grow, and it’s difficult for churches and pastors to get good mortgage financing. Legacy is becoming as compliant as we can with new government regulations, which will make things a lot clearer for the constituency as well.
How can we as a conference work with each pastor to make their ministry better? We want to offer more human resource services for churches. When a pastor retires, what process do you set up to hire a new one? I’m a firm believer that the moment we hire a new pastor is when the relational support should start, so there’s a support group for each pastor where they can go in
I see continued growth in L2L because the pressures in society aren’t decreasing. Through L2L, we can resource churches through high points and low points, like the time between pastors.
The area of church planting is almost unlimited. I have yet to meet a planting pastor who isn’t enthusiastic. But they’re often solo pastoring, preaching every week – how do we support them? The seminary would be a logical place to get theological support. We’re planting in different cultures and communities – it’s an opportunity for teaching the Confession of Faith. It’s good for seminary, good for planters, good for churches.
What is your dream for the future of the MB church?
It’s summed up in the mission statement: that we have churches right across Canada – and beyond through MB Mission – that are healthy and growing as disciples. That we passionately follow Jesus. Whether in our employment, or as pastor, teacher or conference worker, that our objective is to grow and to help others grow.
We are so fortunate for the ministry we have. We should never take it for granted. God’s not done with us yet; there’s so much more to do.