Churches talk Bill C-4
One of our new national communication and connecting tools is the National Town Hall which happens twice a year. These meetings are open to any member of an MB church with the primary purpose of inviting our churches’ opinions and questions on important matters within our denomination.
In early January 2022, Bill C-4 was made effective, bringing significant changes to Canadian Criminal Law. In response to this new piece of legislation, CCMBC hosted a Town Hall event on January 20, 2022, to provide an opportunity for our churches to receive information and ask pertinent questions.
One of the ways we wanted to resource our churches was to allow space for our legal counsel, Kevin Boonstra, to unpack the possible implications of Bill C-4 for the church. Kevin provided a one-page guideline to those in attendance and responded to questions asked by attendees.
Critical pieces of information we received from Kevin include:
- There is a low risk of criminal prosecution for pastors and leaders preaching a sermon on a Sunday morning about a biblical view of sexuality.
- Pastors cannot formally counsel anyone to reduce their non-heterosexual sexual behaviour.
- Churches cannot advertise or promote any formal programs or study groups that are designed to help those attending repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or behaviour.
Present at the meeting was Ted Falk, Member of Parliament for Provencher, who shared how this law came into effect.
The National Faith & Life Team will be engaging in conversation to provide churches with guidelines on how to proceed in light of the implications of Bill C-4. CCMBC is also in conversation with the Canadian Council for Christian Charities (CCCC) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) to further understand the constitutional challenges with this law.
It is important to note that the Canadian MB Church opposes any coercive or forcible forms of conversion therapies. We do not engage in programming that restricts people’s personal choices.
— Elton DaSilva, National Director
Vaccination and living well for Jesus
The second hour of the CCMBC Town Hall meeting was devoted to a discussion of the NFLT’s recent document entitled “Vaccination & Living Well for Jesus” (Discussion Version Draft 2.3). As the title implies, the NFLT believes that issues like vaccination, mandates, and religious freedom are opportunities for discipleship and evangelism if, and only if, believers reflect Jesus well to the watching world. However, deep divisions about how to respond has led in some communities to hostility and polarization both inside and outside the church.
Even though the NFLT had hoped to provide a resource like this much earlier in the pandemic, they still felt that even in the midst of our present deep divisions and relational fatigue, sitting together to explore our biblical and theological convictions could both inspire us and guide us in this moment. The presupposition for all of our actions is that we want to reflect Jesus well. We are, above all else, disciples of Jesus living out his character and mission. Five theological foundation stones were presented to help us think about what discipleship necessarily involves as we face questions of illness, health, and community responsibility:
- The first foundation stone is that we want to be people who together seek and speak truth in our world.
- The second foundation stone is that we value and support whatever is in the direction of rich and robust human life (physical, spiritual, relational, etc.) lived in harmony with creation.
- The third foundation stone is that our actions must reflect God’s true love of neighbour (Matthew 22:39) and God’s true love of the enemy (Matthew 5:44).
- The fourth foundation stone is that we are answerable to God for the stewardship of our own bodies (and for those individuals under our care).
- The fifth foundation stone is that we are called to live wisely in relation to human governments—both when they pursue good and when they choose to oppose God’s plans in the world.
The conclusion was that we need to pray for more of the Holy Spirit’s presence so we can be better able to listen to each other well, demonstrate care and curiousity, and communicate with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Over twenty virtual break-out groups spent time sharing and reflecting on how we could better image Jesus in our churches and communities at this moment. Each group recorded their feedback to be shared with the NFLT. Most expressed appreciation that the document encouraged respectful and gracious conversation when this has been so lacking at this time. Others expressed that it was just good to be in conversation with others to lament about how these topics have broken and divided churches, neighbours, and even siblings/families.
And unsurprisingly, some groups got to experience a taste of the conflicts that the discussion document was trying to address. But, if there was a consensus, it was that we are blessed to have Town Hall meetings where we can interact with MBs from all over Canada about issues that really matter.
— Ken Esau, Interim National Faith anD Life Director