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“What’s this going to leave us with?”

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Board meetings are boring. And Canadian conference boards seem to do a lot of self-congratulation. These are prevailing notions. After attending June national board of faith and life (BFL) meetings, I would contradict both.

Although some discussions may be a bit dry and following Robert’s Rules can turn a traightforward discussion into an intricately choreographed dance, BFL members care about the issues they face and seek to do everything in a way that honours people. Both successes and opportunities for improvement result from an evaluation of events, initiatives, and conversations.

It’s not exciting work, but it’s important. “Visionary leaders charge out with ‘what is this going to get us?’ not ‘what is this going to leave us with?’” said Saskatchewan representative Terrence Froese. That’s why a board such as the BFL that can assess resources and initiatives through theological lenses is so important.

To that end, the long-ago proposed theological director position was revived. Executive director Willy Reimer, who attended his first meeting in this capacity, and MB Biblical Seminary Canada interim president and developer Bruce Guenther will continue to develop that proposal.

BFL members banter and laugh even as they work on policy and process. They’re concerned to maintain “fraternal relationship” with agencies like MCC and USMB, and to create a climate of open communication with the executive board; they’re passionate about mission. While this language sounds formal and buzzword-laden, it conveys the spirit in which the board members deliberate – a desire to work collaboratively and with a heart attuned to the people involved, even as they talk so much policy.

The meeting wasn’t all celebration. With sadness, the board accepted chair Vidya Narimalla’s resignation at the close. “I recognize there’s a new direction that I believe calls for a new kind of leadership,” said Narimalla. The board wrestled with repercussions of the Ontario convention boards’ current struggle to find consensus for future direction.

With a new executive director at the helm, having hammered out four organizing prin-ciples defining the purpose of the BFL, and with study conference approaching, the board, though diminished by Narimalla’s departure, is moving forward“on mission.”

“The BFL sees its future role increasingly as serving the executive board as a resource in articulating the theological centre of our mission to reach Canada for Christ,” said vice-chair Brian Cooper. “Doubtless much prayer and conversation is needed as the BFL seeks to clarify its role amid the fruitful discussions that are taking place in making the provincial and national collaboration more effective.”

—Karla Braun

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