We want to work together. Last year, I travelled across Canada, gathering with Mennonite Brethren pastors, leaders, and interested members. As we met, from Sainte-Rose in the suburbs of Montreal to Neighbourhood Church on the Island in B.C., you told us you want unity in the church.
It was so important to be there, face-to-face, around the table with members from the MB family. After a brief explanation on the collaborative model, we had the opportunity to simply listen. We wanted to hear the heartbeat of MB churches.
The Canadian Conference of MB Churches, the MB family in Canada, is changing structures to adjust to changing times, and we want to listen to the wisdom and concerns from within our family.
We asked a few questions:
- What would make you excited to be part of this family of churches together (or what already does)?
- Should we name “holistic witness” – already a demonstrated commitment – as a value of the conference’s ministry? (This would not entail the creation of any entities, but a recognition of the importance of this aspect within our existing ministry and ministry partnerships.)
- What is the best way to fund the conference’s ministry?
We noted your feedback, and it will be processed in detail by the Executive Board, the National Ministry Team (meet a few members on the facing page), and the National Faith and Life Team.
Across the country, we heard several themes of what our churches want from the conference:
- Leadership development for the next generation. We want to wisely invest in discerning and training new leaders.
- Local and global mission. Bearing witness to God’s transforming power in individuals and in groups continues to be a central focus for our churches.
- Evangelical Anabaptist. Many outside influences colour our understandings of these words in ways that create ambiguity or division. Amid our diverse understandings, we want to rally around shared commitment to the values implicit in our theological positions.
- Unity. From one side of the country to the next, we want to hear each other’s stories, share resources, and support our partners.
We need a communal identity and sense of belonging despite distance and diversity.
We want a strategy that calls for all our participation and contribution.
So what next?
At Gathering 2018 in Saskatoon, we made an important change in the motion to accept the collaborative model. You voted to approve that CCMBC develop the collaborative model “in partnership with the provincial conferences and MB ministry partners.”
The Executive Board, National Ministry Team, and National Faith and Life Team are working hard over these days to develop a new governance manual and bylaws, and funding structures, and five-year plan for the collaborative model.
You will continue to have opportunity to speak into these plans at provincial conventions this spring.
Under the existing governance structure, delegates will vote on implementation of the collaborative model at the annual general meeting at the EQUIP study conference in Ontario in October.
My great thanks to all those who participated in the regional meetings across Canada. It was so good to hear from you.
I like to think of the conference as a family; everyone has a role to play, and we need to gather regularly around the dinner table together. I hope to revisit each region every year to continue to listen in a round table setting.
Please pray with us to see God’s transforming power at work in Canada as we live out the unity to which God calls us.