Excitement and challenges in Mennonite Church British Columbia were a recurring theme when delegates met for their annual general meeting at Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack on Feb. 22, 2014.
Throughout the morning, Garry Janzen, MC B.C.’s executive minister, interviewed several people in leadership positions of area church leadership, asking them, “What excites you?” and, “What are your challenges?”
First was Lee Dyck, completing her first year as area church moderator. “I love the word ‘missional,’ ” she said. “I am excited that we have churches that connect with the Anabaptist vision of the church. We have lots to celebrate.” As for challenges, Dyck said, “We need to strengthen our connective tissue with each other and foster an Anabaptist vision of what it means to walk in this world.”
Linda Matties of the Church Health Committee said she felt energized by the unexpected tasks that came to her committee, including working out an upcoming sabbatical for Janzen, and working on credentialling for a Cambodian pastor. “I get to hear what’s happening in all of your churches and that excites me,” she said. In the way of challenges, Matties said, “We need to put more effort into training pastors that our unique churches need.” A praise item noted that currently no MC B.C. congregations are searching for leadership, as all currently have lead pastors.
Evangelism and Church Development chair Barry Lesser said, “We’re changing our paradigm a little bit. We hope to shift to where every member of every church sees themselves as a church planter. The new term is ‘multiplier’—every member a multiplier of the church. Pray for us for wisdom to discern what is most needed in each congregation.” He also cited the recent development of Living Stones Mennonite Christian Church, a recently planted Mandarin congregation with cells in two locations.
Henry Krause of the Service Peace and Justice Committee mentioned both indigenous relations and creation care as priorities. Creation care had been the theme the previous day at the LEAD conference. (See the report, 'Holy Spirit is great choreographer’ in creation care, delegates told.) Krause talked about “engaging in what it looks like to be people who care for God’s good creation,” and added, “It’s part of our ethos of living simpler. We know that God loves the whole world.”
Indigenous relations coordinator Brander McDonald expressed gratitude for the MC B.C. family for support during last year’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) activities, estimating 30 MC B.C. churches attended the TRC events.
Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen, pastor of Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, gave an enthusiastic report about her congregation’s involvement with Forge Canada, a resource provided through MC B.C.
Faith and Life Committee chair Tim Kuepfer asked for prayer “for us to have wisdom and insight, and reflect on what matters. Pray for us, that we’ll have an ear to the churches.”
During Camp Squeah’s report, special recognition was given to Dan and Lorraine Friesen, who have served the camp for 25 years, longer than any other workers in the camp’s history, Dan as site manager and Lorraine in many capacities, including the annual Paddle-a-thon fundraiser. A special laying-on-hands prayer was given for the Friesens for their continued ministry.
Delegates passed the budget for 2014. Alan Peters of the Finance Committee said, “We ended up definitely in a much better place than we had budgeted for,” but said a challenge remains to communicate the value of MC B.C. to people within the churches.