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Can more come out of less?
March 24, 2003
Winnipeg, Man.— Deciding how to carry on important ministries with $2 million less to spend is a question being asked by many in Mennonite Church Canada.
Leaders have been responding to that question since the news about MC Canada budget crisis was reported in the last issue of Canadian Mennonite (March 24), saying that we must refocus our ministries on those things that we can do best as a national church.
The programs of International Ministries (some 125 international workers, mission associates, and mission partners) remain a vital part of the life changing work Mennonite Church Canada carries forward in 42 countries. International Ministries remains strong, say leaders, especially for a denomination our size; this program will continue to help congregations identify and pursue the missions to which God is calling them.
Through the work of Samson Lo, Multi-cultural ministries will continue to build connections with the forty MC Canada congregations (representing 2000 members) who speak 12 languages.
Native ministries will refocus on indigenous leadership development and constituency education under the leadership of Walter Franz (half time) and Donovan Jacobs (full time). They will work to connect native peoples to our churches and in developing indigenous leadership. Native leaders Sam and Lorna MacKay will continue as pastoral interns in their home community.
The remaining staff in the Congregational Partnerships department will continue their work of connecting with congregations and providing resources for missional formation, to strengthen our congregations as they shape members into the image of Christ.
The Resource Centre will continue providing counsel and recommendations on resources (the Resource Centre targets Anabaptist/Mennonite focused books, videos, training materials, and curriculum that can be hard to find elsewhere); these resources can be sent to any congregation across Canada.
Christian Education and Nurture will work at developing intergenerational resources and teaching aids that will enhance biblical knowledge from a Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective.
Our Denominational Minister will continue to attend to ministerial leadership concerns and the spiritual needs of the whole church. Helping pastoral candidates and churches find each other, encouraging people to prepare for pastoral ministry and managing the Company of 1000 seminary financial aid funds are services that continue to be offered.
Youth ministries will continue at the same level that Canadians paid for through the former General Conference, while staff and travel costs incurred by youth assembly planning are recovered through youth assembly registrations fees. All direct costs for adult assembly are also recovered through registration fees.
MC Canada historical records and documents will continue to be catalogued and indexed and available to researchers through the Mennonite Heritage Centre. The self-sustaining Art Gallery will continue to minister to visitors who stop by, and through traveling exhibits to enable people across Canada to contemplate how God speaks to our souls through the eyes and hands of creative artists (visit past and current exhibits via www.mennonitechurch.ca).
Through the communication of Der Bote and Canadian Mennonite you will continue to read stories about local, national, and international ministries. MC Canada’s web site, which has experienced a 109% increase in daily visits in the past year, will continue to provide bi-weekly updates of information and stories, and provide a vehicle for donating to MC Canada ministries. Currently there are about 400 visits per day to the web site.
Additional resources will be devoted to the Finance department to ensure that accounting is up-to-date. Human Resources will continue to screen, process, and provide support for international workers and other staff.
Leaders say that while creative, alternative ways to deliver some of the terminated services are being imagined, some things about our guiding theology and philosophy will not change:
Our vision still reminds us that “God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to grow as communities of love, joy and peace, so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world. ”
We continue to understand Mennonite Church Canada to be a missional church. We have often said that being missional doesn’t mean we do more things, but it shapes how we do things. The vision that has energized us and many across the church has not been diminished. It will continue to guide us in our re-shaped ministries.
We have a budget of almost $5.5 million. That’s a lot of money. And if we are good stewards of it we can still make a very significant impact on the world. We will continue to seek your trust and support for God ’s great project in the world.
We continue to engage our beliefs on behalf of our congregations in missional Witness “across the street and around the world,” though in more limited ways. Through denominational ministry, communications and the work of the General Board we continue to give leadership and forming our identity as Mennonite Church Canada.
And most important, God is not changing. God is still working. Our confidence in that is unwavering, even though we do not see clearly the way before us.
“Despite reduced resources, there remains much that we can do,” said general secretary Dan Nighswander. “We will continue to pray, seek support, and serve according to our calling.”