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Report to Mennonite Church Canada Congregations

   

January 6, 2003

 

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings to you on behalf of our country-wide church. We live in challenging times, and offer you our prayers for wisdom and guidance as you listen with your hearts and discern the challenges that lie ahead for you as a congregation.

This past year we have been refining the plans brought about by transition from a bi-national church to a national church, taking ownership of formerly bi-national programs and including new initiatives and objectives. These transition plans recently revealed a significant planning error that has prompted a full budget and financial review for 2003. At this time we anticipate this will result in a significant deficit for 2002, and a budget reduction for 2003. (Watch the Canadian Mennonite for updates.)

While the full impact of the changes will not be known until fiscal year end (Jan. 31), we want to assure you that all financial processes are under complete review. In addition, we want to assure you that we continue our commitment to the missional church vision. In the coming weeks, leadership, together with the General Board, will take the responsibility of ensuring that sufficient resources are dedicated to the accurate financial processes and information we will need to carry forward our vision.

An important part of this process is articulating the priorities of our work in a strategic plan for MC Canada. A significant part of this is developing a character of collaboration with congregations from across the street to around the world as we seek to align ourselves with God’s mission.

Below are some news updates that are shaping our year:


Saskatoon 2002 – Tending God’s Field, Forming God’s People: Over 650 adults, youth, and children gathered at our 2002 annual assembly (July 3-7) to hear, see, and learn about how God is tending and forming Mennonite Church Canada. Implementation plans flowing out of new structures (approved for Mennonite Church Canada at Abbotsford 2001) were presented that help connect our Vision: Healing & Hope to a missional church model. For a review of decisions, consult the complete Minute Book available at http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/events/saskatoon/index.htm or call for a copy.

We Welcome: This year we will welcome Sven Eriksson to MC Canada. Sven will assume the role of denominational minister, succeeding Henry Paetkau. (A complete MC Canada staff directory is available at http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/about/staff/.) We also welcome the 75 leaders that have been placed in 56 congregations across Canada.

We Mourn: We understand that the Northwest Conference, consisting of 16 congregations, has decided to withdraw from MC Canada in March, 2003. We mourn this loss and continue to pray for all the congregations and area conferences of MC Canada.

Continuing Activities: Mennonite Church Canada Witness celebrates God’s move among established and emerging congregations as 130 workers in both national and international settings, plus many voluntary service workers, endeavor to be a part of God’s transforming work. Specifically, we continue building our relationships with churches in Latin and South America, Asia and Africa. Christian Formation is encouraged by disciples who are taking new roles and new challenges, as demonstrated by the interest in the Take A New Road missional church education initiative: it is exciting to see 30 committed individuals from across Canada enroll in a series of sessions that will be held throughout 2003.

Area Conference Partnerships: Each of our area conferences continues to be a significant partner in our collective work. Area churches have been served by MC Canada staff in many ways. We now have dispersed staff representing all five area conferences. We look forward to making our collective relationship even stronger.

Bi-National Update: On February 1, 2002, Mennonite Church Canada assumed full responsibility for its share of the merged bi-national programs of the Mennonite Church and General Conference churches. MPH and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary remain bi-national organizations. The support of our many shared ministries carries forward our witness and provides essential support to our country-wide church. We request your prayers for guidance and wisdom as we continue to implement the implications of our new structure in MC Canada.

Finances: We are very grateful for the financial support we continue to receive from our congregations. The full financial impact of inheriting the numerous formerly bi-national programs is becoming clear. Therefore, we are asking congregations to increase their level of support by 7.7% for 2003. A Giving Guide for Mennonite Church Canada congregations was sent to congregations in October 2002, and is also available from our web site at http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/resources/equipping/31/financeletter.php.

St. Catharines 2003 - “What if?” (Philippians 1:1-11): This year's annual assembly will be held in St. Catharines, ON (July 9-13). It will be a significant time of worship, prayer, celebration, and decision making. Come and explore the questions: What if we really understood ourselves as partners with God? What if God’s love prevailed? We ask for your prayer support for the many Ontario and MC Canada volunteers and staff as they plan this significant event in our church life.

-Henry Krause (moderator) and Dan Nighswander (general secretary)