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Mennonite Church Canada on track with plans


Winnipeg, Man.— Mennonite Church Canada is on track with plans presented for delegate approval at last year’s annual assembly in Abbotsford.

Referring to the flurry of appointment announcements in the paper over the last months General Secretary Dan Nighswander suggests that "it may have looked different to Canadian Mennonite readers, but in fact we have not hired more staff than projected at Abbotsford 2001." Proposals at Abbotsford 2001 projected staff numbers at fifty-nine (not all full-time), while the current staff complement is forty-nine.

As anticipated, said Nighswander, "…we have more bodies than we have full-time positions," noting the fact that there are currently forty-nine staff but twenty-four full-time staff and twenty-five part-time staff (including one interim position). At this time last year, Mennonite Church Canada had thirty-two staff. In addition, there are two half-time positions that are not yet filled (Peace and Justice Director, and Resource Development Director for Eastern Canada), and an additional four half-time positions in Mission Partnership and Education. Long-term dreams call for a half-time position for the Young Adult Ministries office and a half-time executive director of National Ministries.

The revised full complement of staff is currently projected to be fifty-five people. This compares with some sixty-five staff Canada supported under the former bi-national structures.

On the mission worker side, Witness Executive Secretary Jack Suderman reports that reorganizing the formerly bi-national mission worker roster (formerly shared by the Commission on Overseas Mission, Mennonite Board of Missions, Commission on Home Ministries, and Mennonite Church Canada) has been a complex and sometimes confusing task.

"There are so many categories of workers," said Suderman. "There are those for whom we are primarily responsible as MC Canada, those we share in partnership with other Mennonite mission agencies, those who are Mission Associates, and those to whom we direct only financial support. When we add them all up, MC Canada is directly supporting 124 international mission workers in forty-two countries. Fifty-four of these are home agency workers, assigned to MC Canada Witness." Mission Associates, clarifies Suderman, are workers who wish to maintain close ties with the Mennonite constituency but whose primary ministry is through another agency.

70 of the 124 workers are supported through partnership with Mennonite Mission Network (the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA). In addition, MC Canada contributes financially to the ministry of twelve local partners in a variety of countries.

Walter Franz, director of Native Ministries, hastened to add that "…in addition to international workers, we also support thirteen native ministry workers."

Then there are Christian Service Ministries. Director Shirley Redekop notes there are six voluntary service units in five provinces with nineteen volunteers to administer. Twelve Canadians serve in US-based voluntary service.

All of this activity amounts to a grand total of 207 workers (including staff) actively engaged in mission at home and abroad. That, said Nighswander, is something to thank God for.

"I thank God for agile and adaptable mission workers and staff. The numbers can change fairly quickly, depending on where help is needed, when mission workers change assignments, or when new mission workers are appointed. I am especially grateful for a country-wide church so willing to assume this significant spiritual and financial responsibility. I have great hope when I look at the big picture and see so many people so fully engaged in God’s mission in the world," Nighswander said.

Mennonite Church Canada Staffing at a glance

  Staff as of March, 2001 Staff - Projected at Abbotsford 2001 Staff as of March, 2002
  32 59 49*
Additional Projected Appointments     6
Total 32 59 55
*25 of these staff work part-time

What's happening in International Ministries

  No. of International Mission Workers Primary responsibility of: No. of Countries Represented Comments
54 Mennonite Church Canada Witness 42 Of 54 workers, 17 are Mission Associates*
70 Mennonite Mission Network (Mennonite Church USA) Of 70 workers, 24 receive some support from and relate directly to Canadian congregations
Total: 124    
Financial support ministry Direct relationship with national churches and partners and in other countries.
*Mission Associates wish to maintain close ties with the Mennonite constituency through Mennonite Church Canada, but work primarily through another agency.

International Ministries partners with 12 other mission agencies

Full Name Acronym
Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission AIMM

China Educational Exchange
Council for International Anabaptist Mission CIM
Evangelical Free Church of Canada EFCC
Eastern Mennonite Missions EMM
Greater Europe Mission GEM
Joint Christian Service JCS
Lithuania Christian College LCC
Mennonite Central Committee MCC
Mennonite Mission Network (Mennonite Church USA) MMN
Society for International Mission SIM
United Mission to Nepal UMN

What's happening in Native Ministries

Number of Native Ministries Workers Provinces Represented Primary Responsibility of: Comments
13 2 Mennonite Church Canada Witness Workers are located in British Columbia and Manitoba

What's happening in Christian Service Ministries

Number of Voluntary Service Workers Provinces Represented Primary Responsibility of: Comments*
19 4 Mennonite Church Canada Witness Units in Montreal, QC, Hamilton, ON, Edmonton, AB, Winnipeg, MB, Riverton, MB, Lethbridge, AB
* Montreal MVS unit relates to Montreal Mennonite Fellowship; Hamilton MVS unit relates to Welcome Inn Church; Edmonton MVS unit relates to First Mennonite Church; Winnipeg MVS unit relates to Bethel Mennonite Church; Riverton, Manitoba MVS unit relates to Riverton Fellowship; Lethbridge Service Adventure unit relates to Lethbridge Mennonite Church.
An additional 12 Canadians relate to MC Canada congregations but serve in US locations: San Francisco, CA (2 workers); Tucson, AZ (2 workers); Kansas City, KS; Brownsville, TX (2 workers); Pilsen, IL; Wichita, KS; Evansville, IN; Manhatten, NY; Sioux Falls, SD