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MCBC: Summary of the Future Directions Task Force Conversation
at the Annual Gathering February 27th, 2016
Mennonite Church British Columbia delegates were asked to sit up straight and give their undivided attention to a presentation describing the work of the Future Directions Task Force, because there will be a lot of good information that ought not to be missed.
The expectation was that the delegates had read the Final Report and supporting documents. Following the presentation and a brief time for questions of clarification, the delegates engaged in a 20 minute conversation around tables, producing lists of remaining questions. These lists were organized thematically by the MCBC Executive Committee over lunch, and brought back to another conversation in the early afternoon. What follows are the highlights of this conversation.
There was a lot of concern on a variety of themes about approving the concept of the future direction without having the details. These themes included funding, communications and higher education. Assurance was given that the proposed Transition Team, which will be tasked with implementing the FDTF recommendations, will be providing continual communication of the process as they address these matters and that they will continue to listen for further input from the constituency.
There was concern about how theological discernment and accountability will happen. It is understood that this will happen at the proposed Congregation of Ministerial Leadership and through the regular gatherings of the regional executive staff.
There was concern from our MCBC Area Church Only Member congregations that they will now be drawn back into Mennonite Church Canada through the national covenant and the national ministry funding from the Regional church budget. We assured them that we highly value providing an avenue for them to be comfortably members of MCBC without feeling that they have been drawn back into the agendas of the national church.
There was a huge concern about where things are going with international Witness ministry, especially with regard to the short-term ministry focus. The response to this concern is that in a model where international Witness is primarily a response to the invitation of the international partner churches, the expectation is that when partner churches ask the Mennonite Church in Canada for resourcing of their ministry, the response will likely be primarily short-term (up to a year). When the participating congregations and partner churches discern the need for a longer term assignment, this would be worked out.
The sense of loss of the national delegate assemblies was offset by the possibilities of biennial gatherings for worship, learning and fellowship without any need to do business. There was also clarification that the voice to the larger ecumenical community would continue through a national Executive Minister.
This is the motion that was presented to the MCBC delegate body: “The MCBC Board recommends that we approve the Future Directions Task Force Final Report and the recommendations within the report.” It passed with a significant majority on a ballot vote.
Future Directions Task Force Summary Report from MCBC Assembly
-by Willard Metzger, Executive Director, Mennonite Church Canada
I felt encouraged by the level of engagement in the MCBC delegate discussions on the Future Directions Task Force presentation at MCBC’s Annual General Meeting on Feb. 27, 2016.
Table groups provided questions and comments which were collected and will be fed into the dialogue yet to continue at upcoming area church meetings in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario (Mennonite Church Eastern Canada).
Leaders heard cautions about limiting our approach in international ministry to short term assignments. Cautions were also given in the assumption that Area Churches will be able to afford to provide the same programs that have been offered at the national level by Mennonite Church Canada.
Questions were answered and further explanations were given to help address the concerns expressed.
The following resolution was processed by ballot vote: "The MCBC Board recommends that we approve the Future Directions Task Force Final Report and the recommendations within the report.". The motion was approved with 89% support.
I am very grateful for the level of interest and delegate counsel.