The executive board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) convened in Winnipeg, Oct. 14–16, at Eastview Community Church. Leadership development ranked high on the agenda.
The executive board made “good initial progress” on two pressing concerns, says CCMBC executive director David Wiebe: the first, regarding increased collaboration between its national and provincial conference leaders, and the second, regarding the issue of leadership development in several of its significant sectors.
Paul Loewen (moderator of the executive board) brought the “welcome” on Thursday, Oct. 14, emphasizing the spiritual leadership entrusted to the board.
“The responsibility of the board is firstly spiritual,” says Loewen, “Out of that, flow the responsibilities related to vision, values, direction, and fiduciary and general oversight.”
Terry Walling of Leader Breakthru later assisted the board in working through operational value statements, to be added to the strategic plan in 2011, and helped them explore a “developmental approach” to ministry.
“We’d like to be characterized more and more as coming alongside leaders and churches asking, ‘where are you at, where are you going, and how can we help you get there?’” says Wiebe. On Friday, Oct. 15, the board heard from two key leaders dedicated to the endeavour of leadership development – John Unger (MBBS board chair and Canadian caucus leader), and Ewald Unruh (director of church ministries at CCMBC).
Unger presented a detailed update from recent meetings of the Canadian caucus, an elected group dedicated to the redesign of seminary education in Canada. The board affirmed the proposed direction of the caucus, including a list of members for the newly formed Canadian Seminary Commission, and future plans for two Canadian regional summits aimed at gathering a wide range of constituent feedback.
It’s an indication that “the seminary wants to deliberately position itself as being linked to the practical needs of the churches,” says Wiebe. “The executive board is absolutely affirming of that.”
Unruh reported on leadership development from the perspective of CCMBC and two of its resident directors, Cam Priebe and Willy Reimer.
Issues of MB “identity” automatically surface in high-level discussions about leadership development, says Wiebe. For this reason, Abe Dueck (chair of the Historical Commission) and Sam Reimer (board member and sociologist at Crandall University) presented their findings from Renewing Identity and Mission (RIM), and the Canadian Evangelical Churches Study (CECS), respectively.
This meeting marked the last of its kind for Wiebe. Regarding the search process for a CCMBC executive director in the new year, Loewen said: “We were once again reminded to discern whom God has already called, rather than search – we are and will continue to pray for the ability to discern the person already chosen by God.”
Until an executive director is hired, John Wiebe, chief financial officer, and Ewald Unruh, director of church ministries, will serve as interim leadership team to ensure staff are well-supervised and administrative systems remain strong.
“We don’t expect it to be a very long period,” says David Wiebe, “if all things work out according to the way we’ve seen them develop.”