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Peace tax resolution, Area Church Only Membership: MC Canada General Board wrestles

   
 


Janet Plenert, Exective Secretary of MC Canada Witness, presented research to the General Board on a 2006 delegate resolution to advocate government for a legal peace tax option.

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December 14, 2006
- Dan Dyck

Abbotsford, B.C. — Mennonite Church Canada General Board members wrestled with how best to engage a 2006 delegate resolution “urging the government to enact legislation which would allow conscientious objectors to direct the military portion of their taxes to activities of development and peace” at its meetings hosted by Eben-Ezer MC here on Nov. 17 - 18. They also considered the deeper implications of Area Church Only (ACOM) membership and approved a Support Services Council recommendation on the topic.

On the issue of a peace tax, the Board heard from staff about a private member’s bill (C-348) introduced in the House of Commons on June 22, 2006 by Bill Siksay, NDP Member of Parliament from Burnaby-Douglas, B.C.

Bill C-348 seeks to “permit individuals who object on conscientious grounds to paying taxes that might be used for military purposes to direct that an amount equivalent to a prescribed percentage of the income tax they pay in a year be diverted to a special account established by this enactment.”

Board members issued a statement of consensus support for the Bill, and instructed staff to define more fully the implications and methods of formally supporting Bill C-348 in the House of Commons.

“Increasing militarization in Canada is a critical issue facing our country, and we believe that the church must respond in a way that is faithful to our understanding of the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Janet Plenert, Executive Secretary if MC Canada Witness.

The Board further instructed staff to engage congregations, with the broader issues of militarization in Canadian society and the response as a peace church to this trend. Plenert noted that the Conscience Canada web site (www.consciencecanada.ca) already has a Peace Tax Form available for those who wish to fiscally object on conscientious grounds to the use of taxes for military purposes. The web site warns that using the Peace Tax Form to withhold a portion of taxes will likely result in garnisheed wages.

 


Ed Janzen, Chair of Mennonite Church Canada’s Support Services Council, presents a recommendation to the General Board that would allow congregations desiring Area Church Only (ACOM) membership to participate in its Pension Plan, Group RRSP and Group Benefits Plan “with the same rights and responsibilities as congregations which are full members of MC Canada.” The recommendation was approved.

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The Board also approved a Support Services Council recommendation to allow ACOM congregations to participate in MC Canada’s Pension Plan, Group RRSP and Group Benefits Plan “with the same rights and responsibilities as congregations which are full members of MC Canada.”

Counsel on selecting nominees from ACOM congregations to serve on MC Canada councils and committees, as delegates at national church assemblies, and confirming that area conferences have the right to decide who represents them, was referred to the Moderators, Secretaries, and Area Church Ministers group for advisement. A report from this group will be presented at MC Canada’s Leadership Assembly in early March, 2007.

The final decision will determine whether representatives from ACOM congregations can be appointed to represent the Area Church and have decision making and voting ability at the national church level.