Changing of the guard in Quebec
L’INTERSECTION TERREBONNE and ETEM-IBVIE, Montreal
At the beginning of the annual convention of the Quebec Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (AEFMQ), Apr. 17–18, 2015, moderator Bruno Synnott addressed delegates as “partners in mission.” Why?
“Rather than saying ‘church members,’ I call you ‘partners in mission,” he said, “because our raison d’etre is not only to be members of a church but to be partners in announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ in words and action until his return,” said Synnott.
A common vision
During the business session, Synnott shared his vision for the conference, based on 1 Corinthians 13:12–13: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
- “A reflection as in a mirror”: our knowledge is partial. What is the best way to live as a church or to evangelize? There are many answers, and we must find different models in the evangelical world. No one model contains all the truth.
- “I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” One thing is certain: the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16). God knows us. According to the gospel of Jesus Christ, he died for our sins and is raised (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Therefore, have full confidence in this power that heals, restores, liberates, reconciles, brings peace and joy even in the greatest trials. Share the good news of Jesus, in any way.
- “These three remain.” We prepare with faith, hope and love for the harvest that is ready in Quebec. There are encouraging signs, for example, The Source youth group at Sainte-Thérèse (see below).
Practically, this means:
- ensuring that each partner in mission is prepared to share the gospel in word and deed, at church and in the Québécois context;
- putting in place concrete measures to offer hospitality to new people in the church (Mark 9:37);
- adopting a new strategic plan with clear benchmarks for making disciples in the Quebec context.
A questionnaire following up on these issues was distributed to delegates.
Four new board members
On Saturday, amid an atmosphere of thanks and optimism, the provincial board announced a changing of the guard. “God responded generously to the call circulated to the churches concerning our leadership needs,” sais Synnott. Four new board members accepted the call to join the board for a two-year term: Alain Després (Sainte-Thérèse), Jonathan Paradis (The Living Room), Richard Doré (Westside Gathering) and Zacharie Leclair (Sainte-Rose).
With the two existing board members, Réginald Fauteux (Sainte-Thérèse) and Bruno Synnott (Saint-Eustache), the team now contains six qualified members who have the task of supporting local churches in their mission of living out and sharing the power of the gospel in their respective surroundings, in collaboration with the two provincial MB agencies, ETEM-IBVIE (Jean-Raymond Théorêt, the school’s board president) and Camp Péniel (Jason Lévesque and Esther Lachance, camp co-directors).
The board also works in close collaboration with bookkeeper Yvon Descormiers, treasurer Roger Deschênes (Saint-Eustache), L2L representative Peter Brown (Saint-Jérôme), C2C Network representative Patrice Nagant (l’Intersection de Terrebonne), board of faith and life chair David Miller (l’Intersection), and ministry coordinator and Le Lien editor Danielle Lajeunesse (Saint-Eustache).
Prayer for our churches, ministries and leaders
On Friday night, host pastor David Miller of L’Intersection led attendees in a concert of worship and prayer along with recording artists Matthieu Nantel and Mélodie Després of Divum. Attendees were invited to grow a sense of common mission as part of the great evangelical-Anabaptist family in Quebec and Canada. Throughout the evening, small groups prayed for leaders of the 13 churches and church plants, ministries and agencies of the AEFMQ.
Youth draw life from The Source
“La Source is formed in prayer, growing in number and spirituality due to prayer, and accomplishing great things for Jesus through prayer,” says Alain Després, family life pastor at Sainte- Thérèse. This youth group is a collaboration between Sainte-Thérèse and Centre Chrétien des Milles Îles, initially developed by Després and ETEM intern and Milles Îles youth pastor Daniel Bujold. It is interchurch in character, drawing up to 80 attendees aged 12–12 from the greater Thérèse de Blainville area on Friday nights. Regular attenders are connected with a mentor and youth are encouraged to use their gifts and to get involved in a local church.
Ministries and partner agencies
- The C2C Network is active in Quebec, accompanying seven MB church plants. Several candidate couples will attend a planter assessment in June 2015.
- Camp Péniel serves the conference as a retreat centre, a centre for leadership development in young people, and a place to proclaim the gospel to campers, some 40 percent of whom have no contact with a church.
- In addition to the youth exchange opportunities and humanitarian work the organization is known for, Mennonite Central Committee’s work in the province includes an annual bike rally to raise money for an education project overseas. MCC also worked with ETEM to donate 4,000 French theology books (surplus from combining libraries with other Christian institutions) to DR Congo.
- In September 2015, ETEM-IBVIE aims to be the first evangelical school in Quebec to launch a master’s program.
- Continuing education coordinator Danielle Lajeunesse facilitated six events through the year with participation from 165 people. She also presented a workshop on Winning Kids’ Plan to Protect children’s ministry guidelines at the convention.
- Board of faith and life members David Miller and Marc Pare guided attendees through a Bible study as part of the convention proceedings in Saturday.
Two memorable moments
After 33 years of serving the board, Robert Dagenais (Sainte-Thérèse) is stepping down but will keep a close connection with the provincial association. Attendees prayed blessing over Dagenais and his wife Rita Frechette and presented them with a gift.
Gilles Dextraze is also taking his leave after more than 10 years of work for the AEFMQ (as executive director since 2008). He will continue to be part of “the good news people,” accomplishing the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Synnott presented Dextraze with an acrostic of his name (Giant, Integrity, Loyal, Learned, Edifier and Servant) and a cross-stitched wall hanging.
Canadian conference guests in attendance at the meeting were interim CFO Jim Davidson, director of human resources Norbert Bargen and C2C national associate director Scott Thomas.
In closing, Synnott expressed gratitude: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord. There is a powerful and divine wind blowing. The Lord does great things.”
Report by Danielle Lajeunesse, editor, Le Lien. Translated by Karla Braun, associate editor, MB Herald.