At the special general meeting in Abbotsford, B.C., Nov. 1, 2017, delegates vote on a budget that significantly changes the operation of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC).
The financial operations previously known as stewardship ministries (including mortgages, deposit funds, accounting services, payroll and benefits, information technology) will function under CCMBC Legacy Fund Inc. Developed by the Executive Board finance team and incorporated 2015, Legacy operates as a separate legal entity and registered charity to support the core service “resourcing ministry.”
Legacy will continue to offer subsidized rent and information technology support to CCMBC ministries and partners, free benefits and pension plan administration, and payroll and accounting services for a small fee.
In response to the amendment introduced at Gathering 2016, CCMBC’s spending and operations for 2018 rely on contributions from churches ($1.4 million) along with subsidized rent from Legacy.
The total proposed CCMBC budget is $3.4 million (pending the C2C Network/MB Mission merger approval and exclusion of $3.7 million C2C budget). CCMBC 2017’s budget was $8.6 million which included C2C. Legacy’s proposed 2018 budget is $5.5 million(non-registered deposits are not included).
CCMBC leaders and Executive Board finance team took a zero-based budgeting approach where “all expenses must be justified for each new period rather than making incremental changes from an existing budget,” says CCMBC CFO Jim Davidson. “Decisions are based on the priorities to achieve the mission.”
“The ministry model framework is shared by the provinces and helps to coordinate all of our service delivery ,” says director of operations J.P. Hayashida. “Our goal is better ministry collaboration and less competition.”
National spending on the remaining three services of the CCMBC ministry model break down as follows, (with 9 percent spent on administration):
- building community – 43%
- multiplying churches – 32%
- developing leaders – 16%
Developing leaders sees the most significant changes with the closure of L2L at the end of December 2017, resulting in the release of four staff (interim director Daniel Beutler, and associates Dave Jackson, Teresa Born and Alain Després). CCMBC contributions to MB Seminary and ETEQ are halved. The Leadership Training Matching Grant remains in place to support emerging leaders to study at MB Seminary.
“It’s been a privilege to listen to God with you and to be part of your journey in following Jesus,” says Beutler, on behalf of L2L’s ministry of training leaders within community to equip the local church.
CCMBC will continue to collect and distribute funds to support MB church planting. Some $700,000 in flow-through contributions from the provinces, $300,000 from CCMBC coffers and 800,000 from C2C fundraising will pay salaries and rent for new congregations that do not have enough momentum to self-sustain.
The statistical survey conducted by the Centre for MB Studies for 2016 suggests a plateau in church growth.
MB churches across Canada gave highest ranking to the “building community” service of CCMBC on a 2005 by governance consultant Les Stahlke The work of the Board of Faith and Life and Executive Board will continue, though the One Mission Task Force and Governance Project will re-vision and bring restructuring recommendation to Gathering 2018. Interim executive director Steve Berg’s term comes to an end in July 2018, at which point a new job description should be available, compatible with the new structure.
The Centre for MB Studies is reduced to one-third of 2017’s budget. In 2018, CMBS director and sole staff member Jon Isaak will reduce his hours to three days a week. “I expect to continue CMBS’s commitment to donors to preserve, describe, and make accessible donated records, reports, correspondence, photos, meetings minutes, yearbooks, etc.” says Isaak. “I’ll do my best to keep editing/publishing and to keep responding to requests for historical and theological research, analysis and counsel.”
Funding to ICOMB (the International Community of Mennonite Brethren) is also reduced.
Communication is crucial in a time of change. The communications department based in the Winnipeg office retains its staff, but MB Herald readers will experience changes due to cuts. For the Herald to continue within the revenue available from church giving, readers will be asked to pay a subscription fee to recover the costs of printing and shipping the magazine ($24 for 6 issues/year). As always, church members may subscribe electronically for free.
One new budget line under multiplying churches is $255,025 for a national ministry to Indigenous peoples. (See facing page for story.) “There has been an invitation to work with tribes across Canada,” says CCMBC executive director Steve Berg. It falls under national ministry because Indigenous communities does not organize according to provincial boundaries.
“The recognition of [the unsustainable model and unhealthy strategy of previous years] and a shift into a new modality of operations is a heartening development,” says Jericho Ridge Community Church pastor Brad Sumner. “But it also comes at a cost– of relationships and loss of what has been.”
“We recognize that 2018 could be a bridge year toward a new future for the MB family,” says Berg.
Did you know?
Revenue and direct expenses relating to non-registered deposits will not be incorporated into the 2018 budget, acting as a sabbath year. The net impact of this decision is a $3.8 million reduction of revenue.
Non-registered church plants will continue to receive accounting services for free.
CCMBC continues to sell off properties, investing the proceeds of the sale into the deposit fund. Capital gains continue to be added to the investment reserve.
Delegates at the special general meeting Nov. 1, 2017, vote on motions to elect new members to the board of faith and life and the Legacy board; to approve the C2C and MB Mission merger, and to approve audited financial statements and 2018 budgets.