New season dawns for Quebec churches
Quebec conference of MB Churches (AEFMQ) annual convention 2012
Église Chrétienne de Ste-Thérèse
The day began with 10 churches, it concluded with 12. The “heart of MB Quebec,” Église Chrétienne de Ste-Thérèse (the second congregation established in the province), was a fitting place to welcome two new churches to the Quebec MB conference (AEFMQ) at the annual convention Apr. 14. Host and longest-serving MB pastor Robert Dagenais – himself sent by Ste-Thérèse to plant the St-Eustache church in 1977 – exhorted the nearly 50 delegates and guests to unity under “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).
- L’Église Missionnaire de Montréal and L’Assemblée de la Grâce and their pastors were officially accepted as church plants. The former, led by intern pastor “Mama” Thérèse Nandoh, meets near a downtown YMCA, and reaches out to new immigrants from Africa with the love of Jesus as they find their feet in a new country. L’Assemblée de la Grâce, in Laval, reaches out to the Haitian-Canadian community. Pastor Westerne Joseph served as a Mennonite-affiliated church planter in his native Haiti.
- Texan Yanci McGregor and her two young sons represented their “planting” family (husband Chris was away at another conference). After a year as interns with The Living Room (an English congregation at Concordia University), they are discerning a neighbourhood to begin a new work.
- Church planting associate director Alain Després reported that several more church planters are in conversation with the AEFMQ regarding new plants.
- National church planting director Gord Fleming shared the vision of the C2C Network as a specifically Canadian initiative; the work of Rendez-vous Montreal will take on this branding, with Patrice Nagant as regional director. Fleming apologized for his lack of facility in French. A delegate remarked that a French name for the network would be a sign of goodwill.
Interviewing church planters kept the provincial board of faith and life busy over the past year, reported representative Jean Bieri. The BFL also processed theological questions raised during congregations’ ReFocusing sessions. Switching to his Le Lien editor hat, Bieri issued a call for churches to take ownership of the French-language magazine by submitting articles, news, and events. Reduced funding from ETEM (theology school) resulted in reduced circulation from 3,500 to 2,000 and from bimonthly to quarterly. Bieri is also seeking assistance with editorial duties; late ETEM professor Éric Wingender was heavily involved in producing the magazine.
Horizon Quebec, led by conference minister and St-Eustache pastor Stéphane Rhéaume, is responsible for church health, fostering a missional spirit in existing churches, and creating church-to-church partnerships (e.g., Ste-Thérèse and Greendale MB, Chilliwack, B.C.).
Rhéaume supervised ReFocusing in several congregations, including the French church in Manitoba (Église Communautaire de la Rivière Rouge), and is walking alongside two congregations facing declining numbers. St-Laurent is meeting as two congregations due to divergent theological teachings. St-Jérôme (now called La Clairière) – reduced to a core group of 25 – sold the building, but is moving forward with clarified vision and mission, and plans to hire a pastor. Rhéaume also supervised pastoral intern Stéphane Thériault at Ste-Thérèse.
Youth activities coordinator and MB Mission liaison Marie-Eve Nagant, expecting her first child, will turn her duties over to her husband, Vincent Gamache. Under MB Mission, linkages have been created with francophone evangelical-Anabaptist groups in DR Congo, Burkina Faso, and France, and SOAR/SOMMET Montreal is increasingly led by local young people. Youth groups are small and rare in Quebec, but several times a year, they unite for “Uni-T,” an interchurch evening of worship.
New life characterized partners’ reports as well.
- With a newly inked parntership with Laval University, and new programs to roll out in fall, ETEM-IBVIE “saw night become day,” after a year that included termination of a partnership with University of Montreal, threat of severe budget shortfall (averted by generous donations from Western Canada), and the loss of beloved faculty member Éric Wingender. ETEM-IBVIE’s two boards collaborate to bring together different school cultures; fall course offerings will include certificates in pastoral studies, biblical studies, and theology, a full bachelor in theology (all in conjunction with Laval), and a 10-month experiential cohort program targeted at 19–24 year-olds (also for university credit). President Kristen Corrigan celebrated stable and on-target finances in the first months of this year, partly due to the increase of per-student revenue under the new agreement with Laval University.
- The past year saw the launch of a two-year continuing education program under the direction of Danielle Lajeunesse to bring ETEM’s gifts to congregations. Lajeunesse organized biblical and theological courses presented in the Montreal area with a total participation of 268. In addition, she supervised the redesign of AEFMQ’s website in French and English, and collected and organized materials for children’s ministry.
- On the brink of closure at the previous convention, Camp Péniel, Wentworth, Que., is now bursting with youth. New directors Jason Levesque and Esther Lachance bring prior camp experience, and are backed by a board of fresh young faces. “You are the owners of this camp,” AEFMQ treasurer Roger Deschênes exhorted delegates. “The directors need your support.”
- The work of MCC Quebec includes supporting a refugee-focused centre, and coordinating activities like AmiCamp (a weeklong residential program at Péniel for youth), and an annual bicycle rally for peace, and a peace festival. MCC staff Claude and Muriel Queval, also involved with the St-Eustache church, lost their office space and are currently in search of a permanent and suitable location.
- In June, Maison de Sophia, a women’s shelter in St-Jérôme, will take possession of an apartment and townhouse – the fruition of five years’ planning. Not an official AEFMQ project, it receives financial and moral support from MCC, and draws board members from the conference.
“What motivates us,” said AEFMQ president Ginette Bastien, “is to be transformed more and more to the image of Christ, to live the kingdom of God, and to work together so those around us can taste the peace only Christ can give.”