MCA: Summary of Future Directions Task Force Conversation

at the Annual Delegate Sessions, March 20, 2016
Doug Klassen, Faith and Life Commission member, pastor at Foothills MC
March 22, 2016
Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Church Alberta
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Calgary, Alberta

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the Future Directions Task Force (FDTF) discussion at Mennonite Church Alberta’s Annual General Meeting.

Alberta has a bit of a reputation for being a little fiery – not only in provincial politics, but in church life as well. I was very encouraged by the open and honest discussion that took place.

Alberta is by far the smallest Area Church, and so the fear of the unknown perhaps looms larger than it does for other regions. I was worried about an all-out rejection of the FDTF report, but the delegates rose to the challenge and found a third way. The delegates chose to accept the report, rather than approving it. This was done to ensure that the “diaspora” concerns of Alberta Mennonites would be registered; as a small Area Church, there are many factors that influence and shift our Anabaptist/Mennonite identity in Alberta. However, the end of the motion was loaded with commitment statements to the process and to the larger church in general.

I am very confident that Alberta will be at the table and whole-heartedly engaged in crafting what is to come.

MCA delegates passionately engaged in the FDTF Final Report

- by Willard Metzger, Executive Director, Mennonite Church Canada

There was strong affirmation expressed for understanding the congregation as the foundational unit, as described in the FDTF report. There was also strong affirmation for leadership being proactive in addressing a need to envision something different.

There was a reoccurring call for more detail on structure and budget. There was a consistent call to recognize that MCA feels inadequate in being responsible for all that the FDTF Final Report reflects as Area Churches. There was also a strong concern expressed about the possibility of increased fragmentation. The assumption that short-term responses are best in international responses is questioned.

After healthy conversations around table groups and two workshops, delegates reconvened and unanimously approved the following motion:

"That we accept the FDTF report but in light of the number of significant concerns that have been expressed we are not ready at this point to approve the report and all of the directions and details proposed. We understand that our concerns have been recorded and will be shared with the Mennonite Church Canada Board. We continue to be in support of current Mennonite Church Canada and encourage our congregations to continue their financial support."

I appreciate the willingness of MCA delegates to remain in this process while registering significant concerns and cautions. I continue to be thrilled by the strong support expressed for a strong national identity as an Anabaptist people of faith and passionate followers of Jesus Christ.