Being a Faithful Church process introduces online forum

November 6, 2013 | God at work in the Church | Number 22
Mennonite Church Canada

The Being a Faithful Church (BFC) Task Force is initiating opportunities for ongoing dialogue using Internet technology.

The first online forum discussion is planned for Nov. 23 at noon Eastern Standard Time, to introduce the BFC 5 material and interact with constituency regarding the BFC process as a whole. This opportunity will be offered again as the BFC process continues. Those wishing to join the online forum should send an e-mail with their name, congregation and phone number to office@mennonitechurch.ca.

An exploration of healthy sexuality—“BFC 5: Between the horizons”—is the next topic in the BFC process, and a study paper to guide the discussion is nearing completion. It will offer biblical perspectives on healthy sexuality that span the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Written by Rudy Baergen and Robert J. Suderman, the paper will be accompanied by a study guide contributed by Willard Metzger, MC Canada executive director.

“BFC 5 is designed to generate helpful discussions around sexuality as one part of God’s larger mission,” Metzger says. “It continues to lay significant groundwork for discernment that is planned for 2014 through 2016 on individual topics concerning sexuality, such as premarital sex, homosexuality or other issues.”

BFC 5 will invite further discussion at next year’s assembly, when delegates will determine how to shape the next question of discernment regarding same-sex relationships.

“I’ve learned from this process so far that how questions are shaped has a tremendous impact on the quality and depth of engagement on the topic,” Metzger says. “We’re seeking input from the wider church to help frame the questions for the next stage. I believe that solid discernment is meant to happen in community and not in isolation.”

A subsequent study paper is anticipated as a result of discernment at Assembly 2014. That document, planned for release next fall, and related follow-up material to be circulated in 2015, “will lead to the church speaking again at Assembly 2016 on the matter of sexuality, as planned in the BFC discernment process,” says Andrew Reesor-McDowell, co-chair of the BFC Task Force.

However, Metzger says, “In reality, discernment is never really over. As human beings who find themselves in a particular place in time and culture, we must be continually discerning God’s will for our lives and for the church. Though the planned discernment is set to conclude in 2016, we should be prepared to find that there is not a single, final answer that ties everything up neatly. There may be congregations who wish to engage the BFC tools beyond 2016.”

About half of MC Canada congregations have engaged the BFC process so far, and report that the materials produced to this point have been helpful in creating space for conversations that otherwise would not have happened.

“This is significantly higher than the 25 percent engagement realized when the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective was developed,” says Reesor-McDowell.

Being a Faithful Church is a church-wide discernment process initiated in 2009 by MC Canada. The process seeks to first ground the church in sound biblical interpretation practices and then to address questions of human sexuality. The process has produced a number of study papers, all of which can be found at
mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/1930.

Share this page:

Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.