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National and Area Church Partnership Covenant


Signing the Partnership Covenant, back row from left to right: Renate Klassen (MC Sask), Hans Werner (MCM), and Leroy Shantz (MCEC). Front row from left to right: Walter Wiebe (MCA), Henry Krause (MC Canada) and Dan Rempel (MCBC), standing in for Gary Janzen who was unable to be present and signed the Covenant at a later date.

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May 9, 2008
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — In an historic move on April 19, 2008, Mennonite Church Canada and each of five Area Churches – MC British Columbia, MC Alberta, MC Saskatchewan, MC Manitoba and MC Eastern Canada – signed a Partnership Covenant. The document outlines their commitment to cherish, bless and support each others’ ministries in a complementary and collaborative fashion through ongoing dialogue as equal parts of the body of Christ.

MC Canada General Secretary Robert J. Suderman refers to the covenant as “remarkable,” saying that he cannot stress enough its significance. “This is very new,” he says. It symbolizes a fresh sense of trust between the partners and it unites churches in a common national vision and mission, while allowing regional expression through the Area Churches. “We cherish our relationships and believe the best about each other. We will bless each others’ ministries as though they were our own and operate with the entire community in mind.” Suderman credits the Holy Spirit for creating an atmosphere where the commitment to such an agreement could be made. “We can’t take this for granted,” he says.

According to MC Canada by-laws, congregations are members of both their respective Area Church and the National Church. The Covenant highlights this dual membership and defines it to mean that both Area and National churches have direct access to member congregations. This creates an open door relationship between all parties. The covenant affirms MC Canada in its leadership role as the National Church with the responsibility of moderating between the partners, resourcing Area Churches for ministry and serving as the common vehicle for international ministry.

“It’s important to remember that the request for this covenant came from Area Churches to clarify the way we work together,” said Pam Peters-Pries, Executive Secretary of MC Canada Support Services, who also helped draft the covenant.

To facilitate implementation of the Partnership Covenant principles, operating agreements detailing staff relationships and procedures between MC Canada and Area Churches will need to be developed. These Operating Agreements will be customized for each Area Church to ensure the particulars are relevant for their specific circumstances.

The Partnership Covenant was negotiated and approved by the boards of the Area Churches and MC Canada and signed by their representatives; Gary Janzen (MCBC), Walter Wiebe (MCA), Renate Klassen (MC Sask), Hans Werner (MCM), Leroy Shantz (MCEC) and Henry Kraus (MC Canada).

You can review the National and Area Church Partnership Covenant