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Assembly Days 1 and 2: Delegates stress leadership formation


Edgar Rivera, delegate from MCBC and Interim Half-time Administrator of MCBC Evangelism & Church Development, makes a point at the Canadian delegate sessions on Tuesday.

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July 6, 2005
By Tim Miller Dyck
Charlotte Special to Canadian Mennonite

Calling and equipping leaders should be the top priority for Mennonite Church Canada, according to feedback from Canadian delegates at Tuesday’s afternoon session.

On opening day, delegates learned that the national church has a surplus of just over $100,000 for the financial year ending January 2005, with both income and spending down from the previous fiscal year.

The top priorities identified by delegates were:

  • Finding and forming church leaders who can lead “toward what God wants us to become” and who “have a vision to expand our sphere of influence.”
  • Working so that “healing and hope in Canada and other countries will increase.”
  • Working so “every member and congregation will have a heart that seeks to know and do what God is doing.”

Delegates also considered a proposed Statement of Identity and Purpose for the national church. The statement, in an earlier form, was selected by delegates from a choice of three statements at last year’s Winkler Assembly to be the basis for this year’s motion. Delegates this year affirmed that the revised 13-line statement was biblical, but expressed a desire for the statement to be more distinctively Mennonite, and suggested that some language used was too mild for its intended purpose.

“It says nothing about the transforming nature of our experience with God,” said Ray Friesen, co-pastor of Zion Mennonite Church, Swift Current, and Emmaus Mennonite Church in Wymark, Sask. “The fact that we ‘commit resources and efforts’ seems too bland. We commit more than surface things.”

“Does this identify us as Mennonites? What makes it specific to us?” asked another table group spokesperson.

The group referred the Statement of Identity and Purpose back to the Resolutions Committee for editing. It is to be considered again by delegates on Friday.

Besides a retrospective speech from outgoing general secretary Dan Nighswander, Monday morning’s delegate session was primarily composed of reporting on the February 2004 to January 2005 fiscal year.

“Here is the executive summary: We received more money than we spent, by approximately $106,000,” reported Lloyd Plett, chief financial officer.

“This is not a good thing,” stated Ingrid Peters-Fransen, member of MC Canada’s Financial Policies and Audit Committee, who presented the rest of the audited financial statement. “What that means is that Financial Policies and Audit Committee has done its job. It has been prudent…. We spend our lives saying no. We say no to Dan Nighswander, to Jack Suderman, to Dave Bergen, to Pam Peters-Pries. Why do we say no? Because our revenues are down. We look at that, panic, slam on the brakes, and end up with expenses less than revenues. That means the three of us on Financial Policies and Audit Committee get to override the wishes of delegates. That’s scary.

“There are cuts to our programs. They are significant. A positive of $106,000—[but] this is not a for-profit agency. This means there are programs we are not doing,” she concluded.