Some 200 delegates and guests gathered Mar. 7–8 at Eastview Community Church, Winnipeg, for Assembly 2014, Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba’s (MBCM) annual convention.
Under the theme “Jesus is Lord…?…! Punctuation Matters,” attendees explored what it means to be authentic followers of Christ at all ages, with a focus on local church ministry.
“As a province, our MBCM board discerned that this isn’t the time to build something new,” said MBCM executive director Elton DaSilva. “It’s time to resource the local church for mission. And we want to do it in partnership with the Canadian conference. In the past, we viewed each other as competitors. Now we see each other as complementary.”
On Friday night, MB Mission general director Randy Friesen shared stories of the church around the world, highlighting its incredible growth in geographical areas where persecution and danger exist. “These brothers and sisters are completely surrendered to the lordship of Christ and are willing to submit to his authority,” said Friesen.
On Saturday, delegates gathered around tables to discuss what it looks like to create passionate followers of Jesus through children’s, youth, adult and seniors’ ministry.
“We want to distill best practices and name future challenges,” said MC David Balzer, promising the suggestions would be posted on MBCM’s website, in order for conversation to continue throughout the year.
Gerald Dyck, family life pastor from Westside Community Church, Morden, said it can be challenging to equip people who are so diverse and view the lordship of Christ in such different ways. “’Jesus is Lord? Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord!’… I’m all three every day,” said Dyck. “Let’s be open to the question mark. Let’s be open to the period. Let’s be open to the exclamation mark.”
Ewald Unruh, C2C Network Manitoba regional director, said his 2014 priorities will include: providing support and coaching for the province’s six existing church planting projects; finding new workers; developing a new immigrant church network; multiplying churches; and finding new ways to partner with others.
Unruh also announced that C2C Network has hired Gospel Coach developer and co-author Scott Thomas on a six-month retainer. “Scott will teach Gospel Coaching in workshops across the country, and will also coach our regional directors,” said Unruh. Thomas will remain based in the U.S., but will travel to Canada as required. Thomas previously served as president of a large church planting network.
National C2C Network director Gord Fleming reported on a one-day training event that took place in Montreal in February, focused on equipping and mobilizing the church into everyday life on mission. “There were 240 leaders – guys who don’t always get along or talk to each other – all in the room at the same time. Surely the Lord’s favour is on the C2C Network!”
- Lloyd Letkeman of MB Mission’s Central Canada regional office announced a new 8-month apprenticeship program being developed in partnership with MBCM. Patterned after MB Mission’s international TREK program, the initiative will provide an opportunity for participants to be part of TREK’s training and debriefing sessions, and to gain practical experience on North American soil. The 20–30-year-olds will be resourced by agencies such as C2C, Canadian Mennonite University and Bethany College to help them clarify their call and discern next steps in ministry.
“For this age group, there’s been a gap,” said Letkeman. “With this new Manitoba-based TREK program, the students are right in the river of leadership. No more black hole of leadership.”
- President Bruce Guenther reported on the work of Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary Canada, , saying the school is currently developing non-formal, not-for-credit courses. “Our goal is to successfully combine education and mission,” said Guenther. “Because mission without education results in shallow discipleship, and education without mission results in irrelevance.”
- Delegates voted in support of a $684,207 budget for 2014. The conference expects a surplus of $46,000 by the end of the year.
Updated Apr. 10, 2014: MB Mission internship partners and resources clarified.