MC Sask: Summary of Future Directions Task Force Conversation

at the Annual Delegate Sessions, March 11-12, 2016
by
Anita Retzlaff, FDTF member, pastor, Nutana Park MC
;
March 14, 2016
;
Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Church Saskatchewan
stylize dove logo with text: FDTF Mennonite Church Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

After considerable and animated discussions in several venues, the recommendation put forward by the FDTF was overwhelmingly accepted. Only a handful of voters dissented. It was evident that as conversation continued throughout the weekend, delegates became much more enthusiastic about the possibilities for the future of our church.

Some of the anxieties expressed included:

  • Uncertainty about the donation trail
  • Some felt like they lost part of the family when several MC Canada staff were terminated a short time ago
  • A fear of becoming weaker as a church
  • Concern was expressed about Indigenous Relations
  • How will International Witness be administered?
  • Are we really finding answers to the question of what God is calling us to?
  • Are we ready for the shifting responsibilities that will be given to area churches?
  • Do we trust those who are leading the church? Do we trust the church with our money?
  • Structure is not the problem. Will a new structure attract young people?
  • Where will strength come from to provide a national identity?

Some of the excitement and hope expressed included:

  • Greater ownership of the church’s mission is the goal of supporting congregations in their work
  • We want to know how to support the staff and those who are working with transition in the coming months and years
  • We await a tangible vision so that we have something to latch onto
  • The biblical vision isn’t changing but the context is: we need to get the structures out of the way so that congregations can prepare for the future
  • There are many opportunities as much of the work has been and will continue to be shifting to the congregations

We are much richer than we often publicly acknowledge: let us find inspiration to give

  • Having access to the Resource Centre (now CommonWord) is very important – many smaller congregations need this lifeline
  • Is there something we can ask the congregations to do/discern during this time of transition?
  • The vision is still unclear but some vision elements are evident. The churches really want to be updated as this all unfolds
  • Gratitude was expressed to the FDTF to get us to this point. The observation was made that in the 1960s to 1990s, we built many Mennonite institutions. We have lost a significant percentage of our membership base more recently. This means that our situation has changed.

The question was posed: “How do we lead and structure our denomination through a change that is likely a long one: maybe 30 years?”

We value diversity and we are centred on Christ. We are learning to know who we as Mennonites are now – in 2016.

The process that we find ourselves in is truly an expression of our Anabaptist values as we discern how we live out our faith and our values locally.

Review the FDTF Final Report, supporting documents, and Area Church conversations