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Canada, USA renew covenant for shared mission


Mennonite Church Canada Witness/Mennonite Mission Network joint release
For immediate release
Nov 1, 2004
-by Tom Price


Mennonite mission leaders sign a covenant for shared ministry between Mennonite Church Canada Witness and Mennonite Mission Network. Pictured (from left) are Jack Suderman, executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada Witness; Willard Metzger, chair of the Christian Witness Council; Lee Schmucker, chair of the Mennonite Mission Network Board of Directors; and Stanley W. Green, executive director of Mennonite Mission Network. The groups, which have gathered annually since 2001, met Oct. 21-23 in Surrey, British Columbia.

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Surrey, British Columbia — Mission representatives of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA unanimously renewed a covenant Oct. 23 to continue shared international ministry in more than 25 countries around the world.

Meeting Oct. 21-23 at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre, the Christian Witness Council of Mennonite Church Canada and the board of directors of Mennonite Mission Network (Mennonite Church USA) signed the second such covenant since their creation in 2001.

The covenant, and a more detailed joint operating agreement, outline principles for mission collaboration between the two entities. Mennonite Church Canada Witness is one of three leadership councils of Mennonite Church Canada, while Mennonite Mission Network is one of four program agencies of Mennonite Church USA.

“This is a clear indicator that we are committed to working together,” said Willard M. Metzger, of Drayton, Ontario, chair of Mennonite Church Canada’s Christian Witness Council. “It’s clear of our intention to keep being very close and very good partners together.”

“It’s so great to be reminded again that this border is strictly political, and it’s not a spiritual border,” said Alice Ruth Ramseyer, a Mission Network board member from Bluffton, Ohio.

While most of the original covenant remains the same, the new covenant will be reviewed every two years instead of every three years, while the Christian Witness Council and the Mission Network board will meet at least every other year instead of annually.

In the joint operating agreement, one of the most significant changes results from a new grass-roots coalition of congregations in Canada that formerly hosted Mennonite Voluntary Service or Service Adventure units. That group is working to revive a national structure for Christian service options in Canada. In March 2003, financial constraints resulted in the termination of Mennonite Church Canada's funding for its Christian Service Ministry. Some of the units were able to continue operation in the interim with support from a grant from Mennonite Mission Network. According to the revised operating agreement, Mennonite Mission Network will need to work out protocols for bi-national relationships directly with that group.

“It’s good to say to Mission Network, you are a blessing to us,” said Jack Suderman, executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada Witness. “In some ways, we have learned from you, gained insight from you, gained support from you … in many ways that connection is a real blessing for us.”