After 58 years of encouraging and uniting the MB family across Canada, the MB Herald will cease publication of its print magazine at the end of 2019.
Due to decreasing revenues for CCMBC support, a depleted reserve fund, and low Herald readership, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches executive board eliminated funding for the Herald in the 2020 budget. Delegates approved the budget at the Oct. 23, 2019 annual general meeting.
The budget cuts also eliminate the positions of four Communications team members effective Dec. 31, 2019: Karla Braun, MB Herald managing editor (on staff since 2008); Angeline Schellenberg, copy editor (2010); and Rebecca Watson, communications assistant (2017), all in the Winnipeg office; and Colton Floris, designer and illustrator (2015), based in Abbotsford, B.C.
“The conference is grateful for the thoughtful and creative way these staff have served our churches,” says Carson Samson, CCMBC communications and operations director.
In the coming months, national director Elton DaSilva will develop a new Communications strategy for CCMBC that adjusts to the Collaborative Model of governance and focuses on multi-modal online communication. The website www.mbherald.com will continue sharing news from MB partners.
“We commit to working with provincial conferences and agency partners, encouraging more voices to be head and extending our reach,” says DaSilva.
The MB Herald began as a weekly black and white magazine in 1962. It moved to 24–26 issues/year in 1969, decreased to 17 issues/year in 2003, 12 in 2007, and became full-colour in 2008. In 2015, production changed to bimonthly, and in 2018, with a fresh design, to quarterly.
For its final January 2020 issue, the MB Herald is collecting the voices of our readers into a community prayer. Using the following prompts, reflect on your hopes for the MB family and email your one-sentence prayers to email@example.com by Nov. 15, 2019.
- Thank you for leading us to…
- May we become…
- May we be known as…
It is very unfortunate that we will be losing another communication link (MB Herald) with our conference both nationally and provincially. There is virtually no communication currently for the average church member or adherent to hear what is happening in the world of MB,s.
In my opinion we are in a dry desert when it comes to communication trickling down from national matters to provincial matters, as everything seems to stops there, never being communicated further down the line.
If there is to be support from the masses they need to be informed as to what they are being asked to support.
Here’s an example of changes having consequences because they sneak up on us. We don’t realize what we have until it is gone. Did we think that we would escape the realities of the cost cutting that has taken place in the newspaper industry because of the capibilites of what the Internet? I would encourage creativity from enthusiastic individuals to reignite the vacancy we will feel without the familiar MB Herald in our mailbox at the end of the driveway. Our provincial conference offices could take up the challenge with positive and productive coverage of local and national content.
I’m probably a little unusual for a supporter of the MB Herald because of a singular interest in individuals I knew who are still alive and those that passed on. I’m 82, with an early youth spent in Alberta and a couple of years in the Coaldale Alberta Mennonite High School. I’m not interested in the Herald unless it continues to have articles similar to those in the MHSA Chronicle, a newsletter supported largely by Alberta Mennonites with the usual personal stories, book reviews and anecdotes pertaining to life as a Mennonite. I don’t want to know of what pastors and their wives are doing or who has been ordained, etc. I do want people to post the obituaries of relatives that have died, with enough details given as to who they married, the names of their children and so on.
However, I think there might be a considerable number of other people interested in an on-line publication of the Herald, so I am willing to make a small monthly donation to keep it going. If enough people contribute it could become a viable alternative.
Thanks for writing, Frank Martens. We appreciate all our readers: those who only read the obituaries and those who never do (although we think the latter are missing out).
Beyond the January 2020 print issue, the Herald will continue to have an online presence. The exact nature of that presence is still being determined, but there is a possibility it may continue to include these brief glimpses of a life story of faithfulness to Jesus.
This is a misleading headline. From what I understand from the article, the headline should read, “CCMBC shuts down the MB Herald.” They are not just closing the print portion, they are terminating all Herald staff and have not allocated any money to the Herald. A website cannot be maintained without money. CCMBC leadership should be more transparent on this important issue.
The concern of the printed MB Herald being discontinued stirs up many other issues.
I will begin by addressing the matter of having obituaries in a printed form. I’ll give five comments. First, our Clearbrook MB Church is unique in that we are an older congregation and therefore have more funeral services than most churches. Second, this is evident in two recent editions of the MB Herald. In the summer 2019 edition of the MB Herald five of the people in the “Finish Lines” were from our church family and in the fall edition of the MB Herald seven of the 13 individuals where part of our church family. Third, the value of having a brief life story was demonstrated by the family of one of these people who repeatedly asked, “When is the obituary of our mother in the MB Herald?” Fourth, I am fully aware that some people wish to eliminate obituaries in our national paper. But, what better way to give testimony to God’s faithfulness and to inspire us to remain steadfast than reading about God’s grace and mercy in the lives of his people? What better way to honor our elders? Fifth, posting obituaries on the website certainly (as is suggested) will not address the needs of family members who are looking to see the obituary of their loved one in printed form.
I realize that one approach to resolve the matter of having our MB Herald in print is simply to continue on the course our leadership is taking – this being to provide communication avenues that are available to most of society – such as a blog, a website, a Facebook, and emails. I am aware that there are some elderly people in our church who are familiar with these communication avenues. But, as a pastor of care in a church with mostly elderly sisters and brothers, this will not meet the needs of the majority of my spiritual family.
Before I give several comments of concern I wish to give an example of how our denominational MULTIPY leaders were sensitive to the elderly people in our church. At the 2018 Gathering in Saskatoon we were presented with the changes in our MB Missions. Knowing that our Clearbrook MB church has a long history of missions involvement and commitment I believed our people should know about the changes. When I requested where our people could find information on these changes I was told it was on the MB Missions website. I responded that many of our seniors do not use computers and many therefore will not be able to find this information on our denominational missions that they are committed to. Then the MB Missions, now MULTIPLY, staff person sent me a written explanation of the changes. I was able to provide this in print form. I commended the MULTIPY leadership for their sensitivity to communicate in a platform that our seniors could understand.
As I am reflecting on the announcement that the MB Herald will no longer be in print form I am thinking of two things that both involve the printed page in our church. The first is a Christmas Party our church is hosting for an agency, Positive Living Fraser Valley, on Tuesday, December 3. PLFV exists to provide “inclusive health and support related service to ALL those affected by or at risk of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, TB and Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections.” The expectation is that seventy individuals will be at this Christmas Party. These individuals can attend only if they or their family member or partner are affected by one of these diseases. Our church has the privilege to partner with this secular agency. Together we will serve a delicious Christmas dinner and then sing Christmas Carols. This will be the only Christmas event most of these people will have. Each year since 2013 our church has worked with PLFV in providing this special evening. The leaders of PLFV are very open to the fact that I will provide about six different Christmas booklets as well as Bibles. This is possibly the only time these people will be in a church this year, will experience the love from each other and from our people, and will receive inspiring literature. And, I am very confident that most, if not all of them would not consider or be able to look on a website or a blog for the Christian message.
A second thing happened this Friday morning, November 29. I was setting out Christmas booklets and digests as I have done each year at this time since this Sunday is the first Advent Sunday. Included in the seven items are the printed “As We Wait – Advent Devotionals,” prepared by our MB Seminary (150), “The Christmas Digest,” from Power to Change (about 100), “God With Us,” and “For God so Loved,” each contains 10 Christmas reflections from Our Daily Bread, (200 each), “The Christmas Alphabet,” (Scripture Gift Mission). I requested that our office staff prepare an insert listing the inspiring literature we make available.
Our goal is that people will both be inspired by this printed literature and then give it to friends and family members.
As I reflect on all the literature that will be available each Sunday during Advent for our church family and all our visitors, and specifically to the members of PLFV, I sense that I am out of step with our denomination. I suppose I could simply tell the people who come to the PLFV Christmas party to go to a website, or Facebook or Instagram – and search for the stories of Christmas.
Why should our church provide the clear and attractive printed stories and articles about the Christmas story when our denomination is choosing to eliminate the printed format? I am told that “MB partners are developing a new communications strategy, which will involve more video, audio and online resources.”
But, I want to say as strongly as possible, on behalf of many of the seniors in our church family and possibly all the people who will be at the PLFV Christmas party, this new communications strategy will not communicate the most important message we have to these people.
In the event that some readers may get the impression that Clearbrook MB Church is not serious about using the best means of communicating the Christian message I wish to note two further reflections. First, I humbly note that our Clearbrook MB Church is the only church in Canada that has its own TV station. We are very committed to use the best avenue possible to share the best message ever given. We are concerned that the people who are unable to attend a service because of their frailty are able to hear the services of the church they love deeply. Second, I requested a member of our church evangelism team to find resources on evangelism that are geared for elderly people. This person contacted three international ministries that have their main offices in Abbotsford and Langley. These ministries have ample literature for children, youth and young adults. But there is no literature geared for elderly people even though the largest demographic group in our society is those over 65.
I could strengthen my reasons we need the printed word. I simply conclude that I urge our MB leaders to reconsider, not only the decision about the MB Herald, but consider the many people who cannot receive the message they are sending out if they eliminate the printed page.
Thank you for listening,
Pastor Walter Wiens, Clearbrook MB Church
I agree with the Pastor on continuing obituaries in you on=line version of the MB Herald. Over the years we lose track of people we knew in other parts of the country. In a small way this list helps. When the obituary of our mother was put in the regular paper version of the Herald, many people we siblings had not heard from in many a year gave out their condolences. In this way we appreciated that fact that our mother had not been forgotten by the many acquaintances she had made in her younger years.