Delegates reminded that boards, budgets provide “oxygen” for ministry
By Karla Braun
Michael Dick (left) and Len Penner are part of the C2C-MB Mission task force that will study a merger between the two ministries. Photo by Kristi Lee.
A collegial spirit permeated Gathering 2016, the biennial convention of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC) in Toronto July 6–9, 2016, where the 136 delegates earnestly engaged the agenda and respectfully listened to differing perspectives.
A proposed merger between the denomination’s international witness agency MB Mission and the interdenominational national church planting agency C2C was up for discussion, as was financial shortfall in the Canadian conference budget.
The first business session was hardly underway before a delegate added a motion to the agenda to approve the mission statement. The mission statement “We exist to multiply Christ-centered churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ” was accepted in principle as part of the sandbox document approved at Gathering 2014 but never separately offered to constituents for ratification.
Kevin Koop (Crestwood, Medicine Hat) moved to strike “multiply” from the statement (for its failure to reflect CCMBC’s other three services areas). After discussion, the amendment was defeated and the motion passed.
Arising from the discussion, moderator Harold Froese noted an action item that the terms “multiply” and “transformation” be referred to the Board of Faith and Life for definition and contextualization.
Bylaw changes approved
Delegates passed motions to approve changes to the CCMBC operating bylaws and an updated Memorandum of Understanding with MB Mission. Changes to CCMBC bylaws pertain to technological updates in communication and to clarifying definitions of delegates and board members.
For Gathering, quorum is 100; the revised bylaws reduce quorum to 30 for the study conference where “the agenda is limited to the appointment of an auditor, approval of annual budget and the receiving and approving of the financial statements.” A delegate suggested the number “seems too low to approve a national budget.” The motion passed.
Clarity sought about C2C/MB Mission merger
The motion “that a task force be affirmed to work with the MB Mission board to investigate options for C2C and MB Mission for church planting ministries locally, national and globally” passed. Delegates encouraged the task force consider a variety of collaborative partners (e.g., ICOMB and Mennonite Central Committee) and to seek diverse perspectives (e.g., gender balance) and regional representation with task force member selection.
“This task force is being approved with the expectation a recommendation will come back to vote on later,” said Matt Ewert (South Abbotsford).
Delegates carefully considered implications of the subsequent motion, “that C2C, in collaboration with MB Mission, be authorized to assist the USMB conference as invited by the leadership of the USMB and be allowed to function interdenominationally in the USA without any negative impact on Canadian church planting ministries and budget.”
This motion “feels like ‘let’s go right now and start working together already’ without letting the task force figure it out,” said Ben Kramer (Parliament, Regina).
A proposed amendment to remove the collaboration with MB Mission was defeated.
The collaboration of MB Mission and C2C in the U.S. “will provide a lab to test what it looks like to deliver on local/national/global integrated vision,” said MB Mission general director Randy Friesen. “It’s essential to The Big idea.”
“When I put on my international hat, I am sensitive to one conference operating hegemonically,” cautioned ICOMB executive director David Wiebe. “There is a lot of money and power and dominance in CCMBC right now.”
The motion carried with encouragement for more clarity. “We need specificity,” said Brian Cooper (Mountain Park, Abbotsford). “We’ve had need articulated, which is not the same as vision.”
“We’re figuring out how to get oxygen [money] over to ministry so it can continue,” said Len Penner. The motion to approve the Legacy bylaws carried unanimously after the committee reported four action items arising from the previous day’s breakout session for revisions on clarity and transparency.
The motion to approve the budget received an amendment: “That CCMBC direct stewardship income (Legacy) to take all necessary actions to replenish investment reserves by annually directing all net capital gains, all profits from for-profit companies (embedded in stewardship), all net returns on impaired mortgages and 10 percent of net investment returns (beginning in 2018).”
“We’re taking non-sustainable income and turning it into sustainable expenses,” said Arthur Block (Fraserview, Richmond). “We haven’t been healthy in this entity for some time. This motion is attempting to correct it.”
“You eat an elephant one bite at a time," said Penner. Rebuilding the reserves should not occur at the expense of ministry, he said.
A survey of depositors revealed “the reason people invested money was the mission of providing mortgages to pastors and churches,” said Froese. “It’s heartwarming.”
The greater emphasis on rebuilding reserves beginning in 2018 required continued cost reductions in the 2017 and subsequent budgets, said CCMBC CFO Jim Davidson. “Based on conversation in last two days, CCMBC is in a place of needing to cut or increase revenue from another source.”
“Here is a way to increase revenue: our churches investing in the conference. Paying our dues,” said Gerald Dyck. “We have amazing things happening. We need to go back to our churches and say God is at work–we need to invest.”
For ministry reports from the breadth of CCMBC’s work across Canada, see https://issuu.com/mbherald/docs/ministry_booklet_-_issuu_-_smaller
For daily session recaps, including inspirational sermons on the theme Compelled, see http://mbherald.com/gathering-2016-recaps/
Full the full motions and financial statements, see http://www.mennonitebrethren.ca/financial-resources/2016-agm-documents/