Transition plans, storytelling and navigating change were all part of the Jan. 27-28, 2018, weekend when the Mennonite Church Canada Joint Council convened at Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond. This was the second time that the Joint Council has met since the October 2017 special assembly in Winnipeg.
In business meetings, the Council approved a three-year transition plan for the work of International Witness, during which time each Witness project will be enabled to achieve the necessary relational funding through national and regional support. This plan anticipates that most current workers will return to North America pending normal term reviews.
Witness workers will be supported financially for their next three-year term, during which time the workers will be expected to move towards raising half of their funding on an ongoing basis through relationships with individuals and the regional churches, with MC Canada continuing to fund the other 50 percent.
Following an in-depth review with the finance team in December, the financial guideline of $1.9 million presented at the October assembly “looks to be on track,” said Joint Council moderator Calvin Quan. The regional church moderators are testing this plan, and their respective boards will be finalizing it as they look at budgets in the coming weeks in anticipation of upcoming annual meetings.
While meeting for business, the Joint Council also recognized the importance of meeting with local church members to hear about happenings in the life of individual congregations, and for better conveying how decisions on important church matters are made. Time was set aside on Jan. 28 for any interested MC B.C. people to get acquainted with the Joint Council and to allow for questions. Forty-one attended, including representatives from the regional church’s executive staff and members of congregations in the Vancouver area, Abbotsford and Kelowna.
This public meeting “was not about making decisions, but rather about having conversation as to the regional church’s place in the nationwide agenda, the Making Healthy Connections agenda that we in MC B.C. have been working on all year,” said MC B.C. moderator Lee Dyck, who sits on the Joint Council.
Lydia Crutwell, pastor of Vancouver’s First United Mennonite Church, and Winston Pratt, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church, shared stories from their congregations, as did Council members Alicia Good from MC Eastern Canada and Andrea De Avila from MC Manitoba. MC B.C. executive minister Garry Janzen gave an update on happenings in B.C., and time for questions and conversation over coffee followed.
“The amazing part of the evening, which was completely unanticipated, was that people stayed at their tables after the closing prayer and continued the conversation,” Dyck added.
Despite the fact that meeting on the West Coast meant many had a distance to travel, Good felt the time in B.C. was worth it. “I left the meeting feeling encouraged that we are a part of working together at being God’s people, developing a shared identity and shared priorities as we work out together what it means to be Mennonites in today’s culture,” she commented later.
“Nurturing trust is important as we navigate this time of change,” Quan told Canadian Mennonite. “What we realize is that, even though we come from different backgrounds, we all belong to a local congregation that’s trying to make sense of what faith means as a follower of Jesus in a changing world,” he said. “My hope is that excitement we feel as the Joint Council, the possibilities we see for the future would be felt and experienced by people in all our local congregations across the country.”