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Q&A with moderator Bruce Enns

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During its meetings, Nov. 24–26, 2016, the executive board released a statement that “after much discussion and prayer, the board came to consensus that a leadership change was required for the opportunities and challenges facing the conference at this time.” As a result, “Willy Reimer will be leaving his position as Executive Director effective November 25, 2016.”

Moderator Bruce Enns responds to questions surrounding the executive director’s departure.

What was the main reason for the board’s decision?

Photo: Lisa Hamm

Photo: Lisa Hamm

Many things accumulated over time to develop mistrust between board and staff – and it went in both directions. There was no one weakness or incident that led us to the final decision. There were complicated, layered issues. Some are Willy’s to own and some need to be owned by the board. But by either going unrecognized or undealt with, the issues grew larger with more implications, creating more mistrust – in both directions.

Willy is a point leader who had taken our conference a long way with passion and faith, which made the decision so challenging. Many responded well to Willy’s leadership, while some had challenges with his style and approach.

Without the confidence of the board, no executive director can successfully lead, especially in challenging times. It was evident that this level of confidence was not there. At the same time, Willy didn’t have confidence in the board’s mode of operating. After taking everything into account, the board decided that Willy should not continue in his role.

That was an extremely difficult decision. Willy is a godly man whom we love and respect deeply.

What are the issues the board has to own?

My personal observation is that the boards of the past few years have to take their share of responsibility for where we’ve landed today. We have not implemented or lived out our governance model the way it was intended. Our current structures and relationships are complex and very challenging to lead. Our current representative board, with a high turnover rate, lacks the continuity to properly support a vision.

This left Willy in a vulnerable position from which it would have been difficult for anyone to lead. The broken parts of the system further exposed points of conflict. All these things together led to a breakdown in relationship between Willy and the board.

How did Willy respond?

He walked with much grace through a painful process. The senior leadership team has done the same, and we appreciate how they conducted themselves during those difficult days.

I remain in contact with Willy and will continue to support him in any way I can. We have known each other for a long time and our relationship is important to me.

What is happening with the executive director position?

I am so thankful that Ron Toews agreed to serve as interim executive director for the short term. He is doing exceptional work in this time of transition.

The board has indicated their desire for each of the senior leadership team to continue their work. We have a gifted, passionate staff throughout the conference who are committed to the mission, and we will stand behind them.

We have started the process of discernment for the executive director position and are actively working on plans for what follows next. The board has added meetings in January to keep moving forward on that process. We will keep you posted on developments.

I should also mention that Michael Dick was appointed as assistant moderator at our last meeting, and the board affirmed my appointment as moderator. I’m looking forward to working closely with him and the rest of the board as we plan for the future.

What challenges do you see ahead for the conference?

Our big challenge is that we are not structured well for mission together. We need to set up better support structures that allow for the best way forward as we work together. One of the structural changes is in process – our Legacy Fund is getting established. See more information in the finance update (facing page).

Another challenge is to develop more effective two-way communication to hear voices from across the country. I commit to work diligently with the board, staff and our MB family to address the issues in front of us; to listen well and communicate as transparently and effectively as possible.

Although there’s much to do, we need to leave time to pause, listen to the Spirit and discern what is God doing in our midst right now.

What are your hopes for our family of churches?

As I connect with people across the country, I am encouraged by the strong commitment to our mission of multiplying Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission and Great Commandment that Jesus gave the church continue to guide us.

Incredible transformation is happening through our MB family in churches and the ministries of CCMBC such as L2L and C2C. God is at work among us!

I also see this as a unique moment in time. Our MB family has been recently discussing what it means to be united under one mission that is local, national and global. That continues to inspire me. I dare to dream that God will amaze us as we pursue his mission together.

Do you have any final words?

Throughout this process, I have known what it is to be upheld by prayer warriors. I am grateful and humbled. Please continue to pray for Willy and Gwen – they are dear people who are loved deeply.

May God give us wisdom, humility and courage as we walk together in faith.


CCMBC Executive Board

Bruce Enns (Sask.) – moderator
Michael Dick (B.C.) – assistant moderator
Marilyn Hiebert (B.C.) – secretary
David McLean (B.C.) – member-at-large
Howie Wall (Sask.), member-at-large
Karen Grace Pankratz (Man.) – member-at-large
Don Petker – BCMB moderator
Matt Dyck – ABMB moderator
Tony Martens – SKMB moderator
Ruth Schellenberg — MBCM moderator
Karen West – ONMB representative
Zacharie Leclair – AEFMQ representative
Paul Lam (B.C.) – BFL representative
David Miller (Que.) – BFL representative

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1 comment

Doreen McCaugherty January 8, 2017 - 11:16

I met Willy in Sept. of 1995. Pastor of Sunwest church plant in Calgary. Since I was not a church goer or had any ideas of what church should be I did find out by attending Sunwest for many years. Willy baptized me Oct.20, 1996. I learned relationship with Jesus and not life done in religion. It was true community. When my son died by a drug overdose the church was their for me. Trying to sleep was difficult so knowing the faces of those praying for me I thought of them and asked Holy Spirit to receive their prayers and I slept. No meds needed. I have often said that I was blessed by having Sunwest as my introduction to church, but more important Jesus. Over the years I learned to know God’s timing and how He truly is a personal Saviour. I do pray for unity in His believers as we all have the promise of Heaven which unites us. I’m not sure thank you is enough to say to Willy and Gwen, but, God knows our hearts.


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