MC Canada primer

What exactly is the nationwide church anyway . . . and who came up with all those acronyms?

April 24, 2019 | News | Volume 23 Issue 9
Will Braun | Senior Writer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

Welcome to your newly rejigged national sub-denomination

In 1999, after 10 years of spellbinding deliberations, various Mennonite conferences with members in both the United States and Canada reorganized along nation-state divisions into Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada—not MCC, see below) and MC U.S.A. 

MC Canada carries on today as the most theologically liberal of the approximately 30 Anabaptist groups—or sub-denominations—on this side of the 49th Parallel. 

What follows is a profile of our sub-denomination—it’s not officially called a “conference” anymore, although many of us still use the term—as well as some related entities, starting with the big picture. 

Mennonite World Conference (MWC)
“An international communion of Anabaptist related churches” made up of member groups—such as MC Canada—in 58 countries, including 1.47 million baptized believers.

Annual budget: about $1.4 million.

Staff: 21 (some part-time), plus 19 “staff-level volunteers” around the world.

Headquarters: Bogotá, Colombia, and Kitchener, Ont.

Publication: Courier.

In addition to a youth network, various commissions and excellent social media communication, MWC organizes a global assembly every six years (next in Indonesia, July 2021). 

Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada)

“Our nationwide community of faith.”

Roughly 30,000 baptized believers in 217 churches.

Call for volunteers

Worship in 19 languages (as of 2016).

Headquarters: Winnipeg.

Annual budget: MC Canada’s budget for the Feb. 1, 2019, to Jan. 31, 2020, fiscal year is not finalized, and MC Canada did not share a draft with CM.

MC Canada is governed by a Joint Council, made up of the regional church moderators, one additional rep from each regional church, and three people elected at the delegate gathering.

Staff: 10 (some part-time), plus 12 International Witness workers. Due to funding shortfalls, these numbers are both well below what they were just a few years ago. Areas of work: CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre (2 staff); Indigenous-Settler Relations (1 staff); International Witness (1 oversight staff); Communications/event planning (1 staff); Leadership and administration (5 staff).

• International Witness workers:

  • Tobia and George Veith, China.
  • Jeanette Hanson, based in Canada, supporting work in China.
  • Bock Ki Kim and Sook Young Park, Korea.
  • Joji and Daniel Pantoja, Philippines.
  • Christine and Tom Poovong, Thailand.
  • Cheryl and Michael Nimz, United Kingdom (returning to Canada in June).

Recent changes/Future Directions

  • Since the 2017 national assembly, congregations are technically no longer “members” of MC Canada but only of their regional churches (formerly called area churches). In practical terms, this means congregations no longer send money to MC Canada, just to their regional churches, which forward a set amount to MC Canada. And regional churches, rather than congregations, send delegates to MC Canada assemblies, although congregations can send observers. These are the changes that came out of the Future Directions process from 2012 to 2017. Non-technically, MC Canada is still “our nationwide community of faith,” and regional churches still do their thing, so don’t sweat the details.
  • Another Future Directions change is that support teams of people drawn from MC Canada congregations are now asked to raise at least half the funding for International Witness workers. If interested in joining a Witness Support Team, contact your regional church.

Regional churches 
• MC Canada’s five regional churches are composed of congregations within specific geographical areas. Each has its own staff and programs. 

• Sign up for weekly email bulletins from each regional church:

Camps and schools
Various camps, high schools and post-secondary schools exist within the regional church realms, with varying degrees of connection to the denominational offices. 

Being a Faithful Church (BFC)
Not to be confused with Future Directions, although they overlapped for several years, this churchwide discernment process lasted from 2009 to 2016. It revolved around same-sex inclusion and concluded with a resolution that affirmed the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (one man, one woman. . .) and left room “to test alternative understandings.”

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
MCC is a “global, non-profit organization that strives to share God’s love and compassion through relief, development and peacebuilding.” Our sub-denomination is one of several “sponsoring denominations” of MCC. MCC Canada’s annual budget is about $55 million, dwarfing other Mennonite organizations.

Canadian Mennonite magazine
The publication you are now reading serves primarily the people and churches of MC Canada, although it is not owned by MC Canada nor is it the official publication of MC Canada. It is published by the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service Inc. (CMPS), which is governed by a board appointed by MC Canada (4 appointees), regional churches (1 appointee each), and 2 members elected by CMPS. 

—Corrected April 25, 2019
—Corrected May 7, 2019

 

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