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"Listening" meetings provide opportunity


May 21, 2003

Winnipeg, Man.—Mennonite Church Canada is holding a series of “listening” meetings which will give members an opportunity to interact with leadership regarding MC Canada’s financial situation and early March decisions to cut programs.

Two such sessions were recently held in Manitoba (May 1, Altona; May 8, Winnipeg). Questions that arose during the discussion time revealed a mixture of concern, confusion and lament. Participants were concerned about how decisions were made to reduce programs. They lamented the loss of those programs that had been a part of how they understood the work and ministry of MC Canada. There was confusion over “flow-through” funding (donations that arrive at MC Canada offices but are designated for other organizations, such as Eastern Mennonite University, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and others), and the lack of advance warning about the gravity of the crisis.

Participants were concerned about how this past year will affect the vision and mission of MC Canada. Some commented that congregations feel distant from MC Canada, that there is an overwhelming sense of newness (some continue to struggle with programs that have new names), and concern about the impact on schools and area conferences. One questioner pondered whether “the vision remains intact.” Others were interested in seeing what ministries and staff remain, and how the work of MC Canada Formation and MC Canada Witness will continue.

As the discussion was brought to a close, one participant said, “I commend you for calling the meeting. I feel we need to do things together. How will we draw each other back together?”

Similar meetings are scheduled for Alberta (May 27, First MC, Edmonton; May 28, First MC, Calgary) and Saskatchewan (June 17, Wildwood MC, Saskatoon; June 18, Hague MC, Hague). All meetings will begin at 8:00 pm, following a 6:30 meeting for members of the MC Canada pension plan.

A similar session has already been held in conjunction with spring delegate sessions in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (April 11-12), and an opportunity for British Columbia members will occur in conjunction with the annual delegate sessions of Mennonite Church British Columbia (June 6-7, Cedar Valley MC).