Mennonite Church Canada’s Joint Council approved updates to the MC Canada operating agreement at its latest meeting on June 8.
“The latest revision of the operating agreement builds on our learning over the past four years so that we can better operationalize the priorities we share as a nationwide church,” says Calvin Quan, MC Canada’s moderator.
The “operating agreement between five regional churches in their collaboration as Mennonite Church Canada” is an amalgamation of governance principles and protocols for MC Canada and replaces the former operating agreement that was created after a special assembly in 2017, at which delegates voted to change the organizational structure of MC Canada.
The new five-page agreement was redrafted by a Joint Council subcommittee after consultation with Credence and Co., an industry leader in organizational health, which identified inefficiencies within MC Canada’s organizational system.
Updates to the new agreement address the lack of autonomy given to MC Canada within the covenanted partnership of five regional churches in 2017 and the roles of the regional church Executive Ministers Group (EMG, formerly the Executive Staff Group) in nationwide decision-making. It recognizes MC Canada as a legal entity with its own identity and clarifies the EMG as an advisory group for the executive minister, not as staff accomplishing tasks for the nationwide church.
Joint Council was reaffirmed as “the primary setting in which the regional churches collaborate and exercise governance of MC Canada,” the agreement states.
“One of the most important things to have in any governance structure is clarity around identity, roles, authority and responsibilities,” says Doug Klassen, MC Canada’s executive minister. “This new operating agreement not only simplifies the structure but offers the necessary clarity to make it more efficient.”
The new agreement will serve as a foundational document when MC Canada leadership updates related policies and renews its covenant with the regional churches every three years.
It was adopted as a working document on June 8. Joint Council will be reviewing pending changes to Section 12 of the operating agreement in October. Unlike the operating bylaws, the operating agreement does not require Mennonite Church Canada delegate approval.
• 3. Theological identity of Mennonite Church Canada
MC Canada is a faith community rooted in the historic Anabaptist tradition, grounded in Scripture, with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective serving as an interpretive guide for faith and life. Three core convictions animate MC Canada: Jesus is the centre of our faith, community is the centre of our lives, and reconciliation is the centre of our work.
• 5. Core principles
MC Canada is a legal entity and as such has its own formal identity.
MC Canada is the five regional churches working together as one. As such the five regional churches and MC Canada are mutually interdependent.
The regional churches are accountable to each other through a covenant by which they commit to seeking the health of all regional churches and MC Canada as a whole system in their decision-making, both individually and collectively. All programming is thus ultimately programming of the larger system, whether initiated and administered by a regional church, or collectively as MC Canada. They agree that policy, nationwide agenda, and priorities are to be established through collaborative work in and through the Joint Council. They agree that they will animate the agenda and priorities of the larger system through regular attention to them at regional church board meetings and at regional church delegate gatherings, e.g., by inviting the executive minister or other senior staff to board meetings, retreats, or other such settings.
MC Canada strives to be an intercultural church, with values of equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels, e.g., in the appointment of representatives to the Joint Council from the regional churches.
• 14. Communications
MC Canada (normally) speaks on behalf of the whole (regional churches and their congregations) as it relates to MC U.S.A., Mennonite World Conference, other global bodies, international agencies, the nationwide church and nationwide denominations.
MC Canada may at times develop and declare position statements. Such statements may be drafted by various parts of the organization (e.g., EMG), but if considered significant they should be processed by Joint Council
Regional churches speak on behalf of MC Canada, including the work of the Joint Council, its program and work, and the other regional churches in their communication with their member congregations.
Regional churches agree to develop and work within a shared communication strategy, with an eye to consistent unified branding across the system.
The agreement is available to view or download at bit.ly/3xUc1gw.