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MB pastors reflect on the past and plan for the future

On Nov. 17, more than 100 representatives from Ontario Mennonite Brethren churches met at Glencairn MB Church, Kitchener, Ont., for a special meeting called by the board of directors. Ninety percent of the churches were represented, reported Ed Willms, executive director of the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, and one of the meeting’s facilitators.

The gathering opened with a time of singing led by Matt Unruh, associate pastor at Mountain Park Church, Niagara Falls, Ont. Board chair Karen West says, “We are putting a more purposeful emphasis on mission, worship, and prayer in our gatherings, as a priority and main focus, in addition to the business portions of our meetings.”

Willms gave voice to difficult and heavy issues faced within Ontario from the past decade, which surfaced through the ‘Journey Wall’ discovery session earlier in the year, led by church health leader Dave Jackson, of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. Willms went on to lead a time of corporate prayer and confession addressing five key questions: Where have we been? What would God affirm? What would God challenge us on? What do we need to release? What do we need to address?

Together, church representatives prayed, “Help us claim responsibility for our past while offering forgiveness during our collective future. Father, unite us in mission, vision, and love.”

Philip Serez of MB Mission led a longer prayer session later in the morning.

Jim Evans, pastor at Orchard Park Bible Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., said after the meeting, “We may need to own up to things from the past that might require repentance. There has been division, but God is sovereign and we need to move forward as he directs. Let’s be sure to focus on fulfilling the mission, vision, philosophy, and methodology [to which] God calls our Ontario conference, as we seek to faithfully serve the Lord together in the future.”

Before the morning was out, the gathered representatives reaffirmed the nominating committee. Three of the four members from last year will continue on until February: Ed Heinrichs, Ron Willms (chair), and Les Block.

—Stacey Weeks Ontario correspondent
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