By Garry Janzen, MCBC Executive Minister, & Lee Dyck, MCBC Moderator
The way forward as one of the five regional churches in the newly covenanted Mennonite Church Canada brings with it a renewed spirit of hope. We have experienced expressions of trust in anticipation of these closer-to-home connections. As the financial arrangements change and a culture of new giving patterns emerges, there will be opportunities for new initiatives arising from dreams at the congregational level. Collaboration and connection will be evidenced as we continue being “better together”.
We are a faith community of Christian churches with a passionate allegiance to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord whose purpose is to enable congregations individually and collectively to engage most fully in the mission of Christ. We are called by God to be followers of Jesus Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit to grow as communities of grace, joy, and peace so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world
MCBC has never been in the business of International Witness. We are now. As part of our new nationwide and global ministry we have opportunity for missional partnerships in: Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Burkina Faso, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Colombia, and potentially more. To get more specific, MCBC holds the credential for Tran Dinh Khanh, pastor of Mennonite Cambodia Church. Our Vietnamese pastors in Vancouver and Abbotsford are primary connections to the work of the Mennonite Church in both Cambodia and Vietnam. There is a whole new energy in South Korea with the recently formed Mennonite Church South Korea, through the Korea Anabaptist Centre – MCBC has a connection through our Korean congregation in Vancouver. We have direct congregational connections with the current witness workers in the Philippines. We have congregational and individual partnerships with the witness workers in Burkina Faso and China. We – the congregations of MCBC – are being called to develop Witness Partnerships with any of these ministries and the witness workers serving in them.
With the downsizing of staff at Mennonite Church Canada, some of the funds given to the work of MC Canada will be redirected to help MCBC pick up this work – and more. These funds will allow us to develop a half-time Congregational Engagement staff position. This staff person will have two foci – donor relations, and helping our congregations develop their missional capacity across the street and around the world by helping us engage our neighbourhoods missionally, as well as helping us to meaningful international witness partnerships. As we walk with our congregations in their visions for revitalization and church planting, we will give it everything we have in order to help bring these efforts to fruition.
While we continue with our existing leadership development opportunities (such as: the Pastor/Spouse Retreat, LEAD Conference, Relationships with Integrity, and Transitioning into Ministry), we engage new leadership development opportunities – some of them totally made-in-BC, others in collaboration with the nationwide Regions of the Mennonite Church. This includes leaning into CBC as a primary
place for raising up young leaders.
We are very thankful for the great communications work that Aften Thiessen did for MCBC over these years. Now we have Sarah Symons to do this. She will collaborate with the communications people from across the other regions to bring to us the stories of our work in BC, nationwide and globally. We will seek to creatively communicate the missional opportunities before us, and work collaboratively to engage them.
The need for continuing the Indigenous Relations work is strong, yet we are not sure of what the future of this work will look like with Brander not being able to work at this time due to a return of illness. The continuing work of Steve Heinrichs as Mennonite Church Canada Indigenous Relations worker will be helpful for us as MCBC finds our best way forward in this work.
In closing, and in keeping with our theme for this year, MCBC will continue to Build Healthy Connections among our congregations through interpersonal relationship building, various gatherings, and retreats.