Pastors’ Credentialing and Orientation, April 30–May 2
Every year, new pastors come into service in Mennonite Brethren churches, some new to the denomination, others as fresh graduates or newly employed in MB ministries. Therefore, every spring the Canadian conference and MB Biblical Seminary (MBBS) partner in a special three-day Pastors’ Credentialing and Orientation event. This year, it was held at ACTS Seminary in Langley, B.C., Apr. 30–May 2, and drew people from Ontario, the prairies, and B.C.
Participants were treated to MB history and culture, doctrine, and concepts of leadership and church life. But there is another element, says John Neufeld, conference coach for emerging leaders. The event intentionally encourages people to network, to make new friends. Although some attendees commuted to the sessions, most of them stayed on campus and got to know one another.
Historian Bruce Guenther, an MBBS ACTS professor, led the group of 50 through highlights of Mennonite theological development, the politics and economics that influenced church development, and the persecutions and times of prosperity that influenced MB people. He talked about the relationship between religious practice and culture, spending particular time on MB
Matt Dyck, Drew Johnson, Tom Mulhern, and Erin Field are a few of the new pastors in the MB church.
For many, it was a rich day – rich in new understanding and appreciation of MB roots. Tim Bartsch, worship arts pastor at SunWest Christian Fellowship, Calgary, liked Guenther’s candid version of the MB story. “What I’ve heard before wasn’t nearly as balanced,” he said. Tom Mulhern, youth pastor from Calgary’s Dalhousie Community Church, gained a new understanding of the church as a point of change. “I saw that change doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. Keith Reed of Langley’s Jericho Ridge now grasps 20th century MB realities – that many people experienced sacrifice, and that there are reasons why most Mennonites put high value on education, family, and the authority of Scripture.