The Quebec conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (AEFMQ) celebrates their 50th anniversary this year. A weekend of remembrance and worship will take place June 10-12 (for more details, see www.aefmq.org), but first, the conference met in April for their annual convention. Église chrétienne Khmere de Saint-Laurent (Cambodian church) was the first-time host for the annual convention of the AEFMQ at their Montreal location, Apr. 9. “The atmosphere was very good,” says executive director Gilles Dextraze; “it was an excellent gathering” of 38 people, including 29 delegates.
AEFMQ’s agencies are “going through a rough period,” says board president Ginette Bastien. Camp Peniel requires improvements to the site and facilities to the tune of $100,000. In addition, the Quebec ministry of education, leisure, and sports requires the camp to employ a program director and licensed lifeguard in order to qualify for grants and subsidies. Church support for the camp is low and the board –unable to attract new members – has been reduced to two. A proposal to close the camp at the end of 2011’s summer season was deferred to further discussion between the camp and provincial boards.
Other ministries, agencies, and partners of AEFMQ that reported include École de Théologie Évangélique de Montréal (ETEM), Church Development and Horizon Québec Ministries, Le Lien, MCC Quebec, the Board of Faith and Life and MB Mission. ETEM continues to struggle with viability. Le Lien is exploring reducing its publishing schedule from six to four times a year, from 24 to 20 pages, with a circulation of 2,000 instead of 3,500.
On a more encouraging note, church planting is growing. The Living Room, a four-year old English-speaking congregation led by Michael and Michele Jones, grew out of a Bible study. The Westside Gathering, Église les Ambassadeurs Chrétiens, and L’Intersection continue to serve their members and their communities. Dialogues are on course with some church planters candidates.
It was a year of networking, with the first all-Canadian MB church planters retreat in B.C., followed by the beginning of bimonthly lunches for Quebec planters. Partnerships are also on the table in conversations with the Four Square denomination, and with European Mennonites regarding bringing a church planter from France. On the Canadian scene, Église Chrétienne Évangélique de Sainte-Thérèse is partnering with Chilliwack churches through Horizon Quebec, and Église Chrétienne Évangélique de Sainte-Rose has grown a relationship with College Drive Community, Lethbridge, Alta., through a Ministry Advantage coaching relationship.
Additionally, Horizon Quebec supported ReFocusing activities, some publicity pieces for local churches, an intern, and a staff person at Sainte-Thérèse.
Following round-table workshopping of the strategic plan, the assembly affirmed the staff and board of AEFMQ, reorganized to better serve the churches. New staff, Danielle Lajeunesse, coordinator of continuing education (part-time); Marie-Ève Nagant, MB Mission coordinator and youth worker; and Lyne Renaud, accounting clerk (part-time), were added. Gilles Dextraze continues as executive director; Stéphane Rhéaume, conference minister; Patrice Nagant and Alain Després, director and assistant director, respectively, of church development; Jean Bieri, board of faith and life representative; and Roger Deschênes as treasurer.
“Delegates listened to the difficult decisions that were being put forward with mixed feelings at the potential loss,” says Bastien. “Nonetheless, there was a general sense of encouragement as the churches continue to move forward with Horizon Quebec and a possibility of a church plant in the northern part of Montreal.”
—Karla Braun, from reports