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Mennonite Church Canada: Reductions update


June 10, 2011
-Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. - Some final steps of the ministry and 2011 staff reduction process at Mennonite Church Canada have been taken as administrators approach their deadline of living into a smaller system beginning Aug. 1.

On April 12, leadership released an initial announcement (see about the discontinuation of 3.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff positions in addition to some ministries and other expense-side budget reductions.

The Director of Multi-cultural Ministry (Samson Lo), the Executive Director of International Ministry and (Tim Froese), the Chief Operating Officer (Vic Thiessen), and the Director of Christian Nurture (Elsie Rempel) positions have been discontinued. The Youth Ministry Facilitator (Anna Rehan) has ended as a permanent position. It will be offered as a contract position for the year during which the biennial youth assembly convenes.

Reductions of $415,000 were made in a response to a downturn in income and other expense factors during the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2011. In addition to staffing and ministry reductions, Mennonite Church Canada’s grant to Canadian Mennonite University will be reduced by $105,000, effective Feb. 1, 2012.  The reduced support level will be $200,000 per year.

Some staff in discontinued positions have accepted alternate or altered roles, and some have declined those offers and will end their employment:

  • Tim Froese has accepted the role of Executive Secretary, Witness, following the resignation of Janet Plenert. This role has been altered to include some responsibilities that have been transferred from the eliminated Executive Director, International Ministry position. Froese’s previous responsibilities as Mission Partnership Facilitator for Latin America will be transferred to colleague Hippolyto Tshimanga..
  • With his assumption of those responsibilities, Tshimanga’s position as Mission Partnership Facilitator for Europe, Africa, will become full-time with the addition of responsibilities for Latin America. He will share the Europe portfolio with Gordon Janzen, Mission Partnership Facilitator for Asia and the Middle East.
  • Vic Thiessen will step into an altered position, combining the responsibilities of Executive Secretary, Church Engagement and the newly created Chief Administrative Officer role. The position of Chief Operating Officer previously held by Thiessen has been eliminated.
  • Norm Dyck completes his role as Executive Secretary, Church Engagement, on June 30.
  • Samson Lo will conclude his half-time position as Director of Multi-cultural Ministry on July 31.
  • Elsie Rempel’s position as Director of Christian Nurture will end on July 31. She has accepted a newly created position as Christian Formation Consultant at a reduced FTE.
  • Anna Rehan will conclude her position as Youth Ministry Facilitator on July 31.
  • Val Pankratz, Executive Assistant, Witness, has declined an altered position, creating a vacancy after July 31.
  • Lois Friesen Wiebe, Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer and General Secretary, has declined an altered role. This position will be filled by existing staff.

In addition to these changes, several additional full time staff have accepted increased responsibilities in their job descriptions, and some staff will increase their time to take on added responsibilities. Unrelated to the reductions, Neil and Edith von Gunten, Co-directors of Native Ministries, have retired.

These changes have resulted in a few new ministry opportunities at Mennonite Church Canada. Recruitment has begun for these openings. (see for details).

Willard Metzger, General Secretary, said, “We recognize the human impact this has had. I invite prayers for those experiencing unexpected job changes. Despite these changes, our calling as a church remains the same. We will continue to grow leaders for the church, become a global church, and form a people of God.”