Several major items were brought to the table at the Canadian Conference of MB Churches executive board meeting Jan. 29–30 in Winnipeg.
The resignation announcement of executive director David Wiebe, who intends to remain with the conference through Celebration 2010 but not past the end of the year, had an impact on board members. “This puts us into search mode,” says Don Petker, assistant moderator. “It will take of lot of energies.”
The board affirmed the executive budget for the next two years. Projected expenditures from reserve funds, as presented in the 10-year strategic plan at Gathering 2008 in Montreal, are below budget. And although many churches continue to contribute 10 percent of their receipted income, a marked decline in church giving to the conference was reported. A fund was established to ease the financial burden for small churches to send a pastor plus one to the national yearly Gathering/study conferences.
The board also approved a theological director position within the conference, to be filled upon appointment of a new executive director. The theological director will represent the strategic service of upholding biblical and ethical integrity, acting as the “voice” of both the board of faith and life (BFL) and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. This staff person’s tasks will include researching and writing on theological issues, and making recommendations for BFL discussions.
Board approval of the transfer of MBBS-Fresno to Fresno Pacific University was another key action item. Although the move raises structural and political questions, the board sees this as a positive opportunity for new direction. A national task force will survey the pastoral constituency regarding implications for Canadian theological education.
“There will be some sadness [at the news of the transfer],” says Petker, “but at the same time, it’s a huge opportunity to re-imagine what seminary education can look like in Canada.”
As a ripple effect of changing governance structure, several updates are being made to the general operating by-laws. A revised version will be circulated to the constituency and posted to www.mbconf.ca in March 2010, then presented at Gathering 2010 in July. Findings of the Key Cities/Key Communities Initiative evaluation will also be brought forth at Gathering.
Finally, the board confirmed MBMS International’s official status as a separate entity from the Canadian MB Conference, complying with CRA regulations for independent charitable receipting.