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Gathering 2016 business report


Oxygen for ministry

Gathering 2016A collegial spirit permeated Gathering 2016, the biennial convention of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Toronto July 6–9, 2016, where the 136 delegates earnestly engaged the agenda and respectfully listened to differing perspectives.

Gathering 2016

“The goal of gathering is to create a space where community can happen,” said Gathering 2016 emcee Mandy Kasper, (New Hope, St. Catharines). Share your story, she encouraged delegates and guests. It may be what someone else needs to hear. PHOTO: Kristi Lee

A proposed merger between the denomination’s international witness agency MB Mission and the interdenominational national church planting agency C2C was up for discussion, as was financial shortfall in the Canadian conference budget.

Unfinished business

Gathering 2016The first business session was hardly underway before a delegate added a motion to the agenda to approve the mission statement. The mission statement “We exist to multiply Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ” was accepted in principle as part of the sandbox document approved at Gathering 2014, but never separately offered to constituents for ratification.

Kevin Koop (Crestwood, Medicine Hat) moved to strike “multiply” from the statement (for its failure to reflect CCMBC’s other three services areas). After discussion, the amendment was defeated and the motion passed.

Arising from the discussion, moderator Harold Froese noted an action item that the terms “multiply” and “transformation” be referred to the Board of Faith and Life for definition and contextualization.

Bylaw changes

Gathering 2016

“Is God inviting us to move closer to our two national conferences to develop national strategy, expressing mission in new ways with resource sharing and mutual learning with C2C, USA and global family?” says Randy Friesen. PHOTO: Kristi Lee

Delegates passed motions to approve changes to the CCMBC operating bylaws and an updated Memorandum of Understanding with MB Mission. Changes to CCMBC bylaws pertain to technological updates in communication, and to clarifying definitions of delegates and board members.

For Gathering, quorum is 100; the revised bylaws reduce quorum to 30 for the study conference where “the agenda is limited to the appointment of an auditor, approval of annual budget, and the receiving and approving of the financial statements.” A delegate suggested the number “seems too low to approve a national budget.” The motion passed.

C2C-MB Mission merger

Gathering 2016

“Through [MBBS president Bruce Guenther’s] acumen, perseverance and savvy, we were able to accomplish something almost unthinkable [– gaining a degree granting charter and receiving accreditation with the province],” says board chair Ron Penner. “He has made massive contributions to us, all while he continued to teach, research and write.” PHOTO: Kristi Lee

The motion “that a task force be affirmed to work with the MB Mission board to investigate options for C2C and MB Mission for church planting ministries locally, national and globally” passed. Delegates encouraged the task force consider a variety of collaborative partners (e.g., ICOMB and Mennonite Central Committee) and to seek diverse perspectives (e.g., gender balance) and regional representation with task force member selection.

“This task force is being approved with the expectation a recommendation will come back to vote on later,” said Matt Ewert (South Abbotsford).

Delegates carefully considered implications of the subsequent motion, “that C2C, in collaboration with MB Mission, be authorized to assist the USBM conference as invited by the leadership of the USMB and be allowed to function interdenominationally in the USA without any negative impact on Canadian church planting ministries and budget.”

Gathering 2016

Michael Dick and Len Penner are part of the C2C-MB Mission task force. PHOTO: Kristi Lee

This motion “feels like ‘let’s go right now and start working together already’ without letting the task force figure it out,” said Ben Kramer (Parliament, Regina).

A proposed amended to remove the collaboration with MB Mission was defeated.

The collaboration of MB Mission and C2C in the U.S. “will provide a lab to test what it looks like to deliver on local/national/global integrated vision,” said MB Mission general director Randy Friesen. “It’s essential to The Big idea.”

Gathering 2016

“ICOMB is your family,” says David Wiebe. “Please pray for national leaders – each is in spiritual battle for the Kingdom of God.”
PHOTO: Kristi Lee

“When I put on my international hat, I am sensitive to one conference operating hegemonically,” cautioned ICOMB executive director David Wiebe. “There is a lot of money and power and dominance in CCMBC right now.”

The motion carried with encouragement for more clarity. “We need specificity,” said Brian Cooper (Mountain Park, Abbotsford). “We’ve had need articulated, which is not the same as vision.”


Gathering 2016

“Lost people matter to God – there’s no other reason we’re here,” says Janet Thiessen (North Langley). PHOTO: Kristi Lee

“We’re figuring out how to get oxygen [money] over to ministry so it can continue,” said Len Penner. The motion to approve the Legacy bylaws carried unanimously after the committee reported four action items arising from the previous day’s breakout session for revisions on clarity and transparency.

The two-part motion to approve the budget received an amendment:

“That CCMBC take all necessary actions to achieve a balanced ministry budget (in accordance with designations in page 21 of 2015 audited statement).”

“That CCMBC direct stewardship income (Legacy) to take all necessary actions to replenish investment reserves by annually directing all net capital gains, all profits from for-profit companies (embedded in stewardship), all net returns on impaired mortgages and 10 percent of net investment returns (beginning in 2018).”

Gathering 2016

“The church needs to hit the reset button mission,” says Metro Community pastor Laurence East; “a call to obedience rather than comfort.” PHOTO: Kristi Lee

“We’re taking non-sustainable income and turning it into sustainable expenses,” said Arthur Block (Fraserview, Richmond). “We haven’t been healthy in this entity for some time. This motion is attempting to correct it.”

“You eat an elephant one bite at a time, said Penner. Rebuilding the reserves should not occur at the expense of ministry, he said.

A survey of depositors revealed “the reason people invested money was the mission of providing mortgages to pastors and churches,” said Froese. “It’s heartwarming.”

The greater emphasis on rebuilding reserves beginning in 2018 requires continued cost reductions in the 2017 and subsequent budgets, said CCMBC CFO Jim Davidson. “Based on conversation in last two days, CCMBC is in a place of needing to cut or increase revenue from another source.”

Gathering 2016“Here is a way to increase revenue: our churches investing in the conference. Paying our dues,” said Gerald Dyck. “We have amazing things happening. We need to go back to our churches and say God is at work – we need to invest.”

—Karla Braun





Gathering 2016
“L2L helped us ask questions... to dentify present strengths, realized what was a fit [for our changing church],” says Jon Osmond. “God is guiding us through this.” PHOTO: Kristi Lee
Gathering 2016
“Legacy will be efficient, functional, CRA compliant, and will provide resources for church mininistry and mortgages to pastors,” says Jim Davidson. PHOTO: Kristi Lee
Gathering 2016
Experience Toronto closed with a concert of prayer at St. Paul’s Bloor Street in downtown Toronto. PHOTO: Kristi Lee
Gathering 2016
Delegates learned about and prayed onsite for ministries on Experience Toronto tours. PHOTO: Kristi Lee
Gathering 2016
A privileged white male from the North with 15 women around the circle telling stories of sojourn from Syria to Lebanon, MCC director Don Peters will never forget one woman’s words: ‘Don’t forget me – whoever you are and wherever you come from, don’t you forget me. Tell your people not to forget me. “It wasn’t about her, though, it was her as symbol of a person in need.”
Gathering 2016
PHOTO: Kristi Lee
Gathering 2016
Gathering 2016 participants took communion together. PHOTO: Kristi Lee

Nominations: new members


Executive Board

assistant moderatorBruce Enns, pastor, Forest Grove, Saskatoon
secretaryMarilyn Hiebert, retired administrator, BCMB
MALDavid MacLean, member, Willow Park
MALMichael Dick, former BCMB moderator
Two MALs remain vacant; these positions will also serve on the Legacy Investments Inc. board.

Nominating Committee

MALRalph Gliege, retired SKMB conference minister

Board of Faith and Life

MALRobyn Serez, member, Waterloo MB

MB Biblical Seminary

Donna Vollett, member, Forest Grove, Saskatoon

MB Mission

Shirley Falk, member, Faith River, Saskatoon

For ministry reports from the breadth of CCMBC’s work across Canada, see

For daily session recaps, including inspirational sermons on the theme Compelled, see

To watch the plenary sermons, see

Full the full motions and financial statements, see

For more photos of the event, see
Gathering 2016


Updated Sept 1, 2016: motion corrected

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Kurt Sawatzky September 9, 2016 - 16:30

Dear Karla Braun:
In your recap of the Gathering 2016 , during discussions about finances, a delegate is quoted as saying “ Here is a way to increase revenue: our churches investing in the conference.” Perhaps it should be pointed out that churches do have their own financial challenges meeting their local budgets. And besides, look at how CCMBC handles our finances. The 2015 approved budget was $1,575,000 but actual receipts from the churches was $1,322,619. At the same time, the Multiplying Churches (C2C ) Program received $1,250,000 from CCMBC, in other words, 94.5% of the churches donations went to C2C, an interdenominational church plant protocol that will use $30.2Million from 2012-2017based on CCMBC reports!! Many of us are still trying to find out what these funds were used for. In addition, a $9.9 Million write down on CCMBC’s assets was called a mere “dust bunny” by the leadership. There is a feeling that the CCMBC leadership, which has allowed the reserve funds to be depleted, are not good stewards of our money so why should churches send more of their limited funds? To make matters even worse, ,an approved bylaw amendment now requires a quorum of only 30 people to approve the annual budget in years when there are no Gatherings or Study Conferences. In other words, the CCMBC head office staff can pass their own budget without consultations with the churches. Until the CCMBC leadership can demonstrate transparency in their decisions and provide proper accounting of the use of all the funds and regain our trust, it will be difficult for the local churches to be motivated to invest in the conference which isn’t doing much to support existing churches across the country.
Sherwood Park, AB

Karla Braun September 9, 2016 - 16:49

Thank you for your observations, K.Sawatzky. It is valuable to receive constituent feedback.

Kevin Koop September 12, 2016 - 14:05

Hi Kurt,

I think there’s some traction to review the by-law re: quorum. I confess I’m still the early stages of learning how by-law changes are made–hope to learn a little bit more over the next few years.

One suggestion that has come up is considering leaving it at 30, but adding some sort of phrase that requires representation from 30 different churches perhaps. Would that be helpful in your opinion? I think that might solve the concern.

Or would putting it at 50, or 75, or 100 be more helpful?

Part of the reason that issue came up was the idea was to add the budget to the non-gathering years (which make sense–and so was incorporated in the by-law amendment). The quorum was set at 30 in the old by-laws. So, it would be appropriate to consider amending the quorum by-law at the next appropriate meeting of delegates.

Re: all of the above–particularly finances. I think (hope) this is something we can figure out together, despite our divergent views. I hear the executive board is meeting in November, I might encourage you to take up your concerns with a specific member of that board directly. In my experience so far, they have been quite open to being approached with specific concerns on any matters under their consideration.

My 2c for now.

Kevin Koop
Crestwood MB – Medicine Hat, AB

Carol Penner September 13, 2016 - 14:23

Thanks for your comments Kurt and Kevin. I think it would be helpful to have a discussion about how bylaw changes are approved. Kevin, when you raised an issue on the delegate floor about one bylaw change, it was deemed a hostile amendment. I think the assumption was that if you amended a bylaw change on the delegate floor, it could not be voted on at that gathering, since there needs to be a certain number of weeks of notice of any bylaw change. With that thinking any bylaw amendment proposed by a member at a delegate session is inherently hostile. I was going to raise another issue about a different bylaw, but I gave up, because i could see it would be ruled as a “hostile amendment”.
You can easily see that with this way of operating there is no possibility of amending a bylaw change on the delegate floor. The delegate body seems to have no power if they are ruled out of order when they make comments, working to give input into the organization. This, of course, is contrary to the spirit of Robert’s Rules of Order, which are written to encourage group participation and corporate decision-making.
I would encourage the leadership of the conference to review this, to give instruction on how to effectively engage future bylaw changes. I am assuming you don’t just want a rubber stamp on what the leadership suggests, but actual engagement. Please give instructions to delegates on how to engage problems they see with bylaw changes.
One final note, Robert’s Rules of Order is clear that each individual bylaw change must be voted on separately. This was not done at the delegate session. While this may seem tedious, it would allow the delegate body to sift out the one bylaw change they are uncomfortable with, and vote it down.

Kevin Koop September 13, 2016 - 15:42

Hi Carol,

Thanks for your feedback. I’ve done a little more preliminary reading on the topic, and I think we were on track in many senses and off track in one sense.

I think we were off track in that the by-law changes were presented as whole, rather than as individual amendments. My guess is, however, that the gathered delegates would find that process of presenting them individually tedious and instead would rather accept the proposed changes as a whole. Most people don’t make the connection that: constitution & by-laws = who we are (in a legal sense). The chief principle of Robert’s Rules (as I’m sure you know) is that within the limit of the law, with the appropriate warning you can do pretty much anything with 2/3rds majority (that’s an over simplification–but the general sense). So, if 2/3rds of us don’t want to go through each by-law amendment individually, it certainly isn’t out of order to propose them as a group.

What I learned was that:
a) adopting wholesale by-law changes is probably the norm in our denomination – mostly because it’s more efficient.
b) amendments to by-law changes are indeed hostile unless they fall within the scope of the notice of motion – the quorum change fell outside that scope and was out of order.
c) people in leadership seem quite open to dialoguing on possible changes, even within the setting of the gathered delegates, provided it’s part of an ongoing conversation before and after the fact (nobody likes surprises).
d) there is quite a wide array of views in our denomination on the role of parliamentary procedure. I suspect you and I would be more comfortable with more open dialogue, and there are those who would find it almost offensive. I’d like to see the pendulum swing back towards a greater level of trust in the delegates at an AGM (and think that if that was the case, we’d have more people show up) but that behoves us as delegates to earn that trust by partaking in open and honest dialogue ourselves inside and outside of meetings.

As I said, we were quite on track in that my suggested amendment re: quorum was out of the scope of the notice of motion. It’s quite an important principal when it comes to by-law amendments–that everyone have a chance to speak into possible changes. I was grateful Harold call me out of order so quickly. It was a very good learning experience. And, to be honest, helped carry on this conversation any how.

I’d be happy for correction on any of the above from anyone with greater experience in these things.

Kevin Koop September 19, 2016 - 14:53

Had a further conversation with someone who has more experience than me. Apparently by-law changes are best handled in a special meeting rather than an AGM. Especially if changes are extensive. You can then discuss and debate changes within the terms of reference without holding the whole thing up.

Lots of logistical issues to sort out with that, but worth considering, for sure.


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