CCMBC Statement re: Nutana Park Mennonite Church

SASKATOON—On New Year’s Eve 2014, Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon made national headlines by being the first Mennonite church to publicly officiate a same-sex wedding in Canada. In the ensuing days, Canadian Mennonite Brethren leaders received numerous inquiries wondering why one of our churches had participated in this wedding ceremony.

Nutana Park Mennonite Church is not a member of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Nutana Park is a constituent congregation of Mennonite Church Canada, a sister denomination with separate leadership, governance and polity.

The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is committed to our confessional position, which states that marriage is a covenant relationship intended to unite a man and a woman for life.

We want to pray for the leadership of Mennonite Church Canada as they work through this challenging issue. We pray for their faithful application of and obedience to God’s Word as they seek to communicate and express God’s love and truth to all people.

We invite all Mennonite Brethren to attend our biennial study conference, “God, Sex and Church: A Theology of Healthy Sexuality” to be held October 21–23, 2015, in Winnipeg.

Willy Reimer,
CCMBC Executive Director

Brian Cooper,
Chair, Board of Faith and Life

Board of faith and life poised to review confession of faith

A shared sense of encouragement prevailed among members of the board of faith and life (BFL) of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches at their meeting on January 25–26 in Abbotsford, B.C.

The BFL affirmed that it will act upon the executive board’s request to review the denomination’s confession of faith. Board chair Brian Cooper said the 2011 study conference brought attention to the confession indicating that a review would be appropriate. Cooper said the review would be a general one, and not focused on any particular issue.

“We are open to the possibility of revision if necessary,” he said, “and we will do some research into what changes might be helpful.” He added that the board does not want to see a piecemeal review, but feels that a systematic study, done periodically but infrequently, is probably good practice. Cooper said the review is “not about changing what we believe. But we want to ensure our confession expresses as well as it can what scripture is telling us.”

Another issue raised at the study conference– the makeup of the board of faith and life itself– will also see action this year. As the BFL replaces departing members, it will be focused on ensuring that its membership increasingly reflects the ethnic and gender diversity of the Canadian MB constituency. The board tasked Cooper and vice-chair Terrance Froese to develop a list of qualifications for board members in order to assist in drafting a list of recommended candidates in time for the next board meeting, scheduled adjacent to the biannual Gathering in July.

The BFL set up a committee to organize the 2013 study conference, but deferred a decision on its topic. Cooper said feedback from the 2011 event was positive. Delegates praised the increased role of bible study, the greater opportunity for dialogue’ and the expert Mennonite Brethren presenters. The board hopes for a similar result in 2013. “The 2011 conference reminds us that we have a real treasure trove of quality people in our midst,” said Cooper.

The January meeting marked the first opportunity for the board of faith and life and the executive board to work more closely together, acting on a decision made last autumn. Members of the two boards met both informally and in structured discussion. “There was a real sense that this is something our people want to continue to do so we can reach Canada with the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Cooper. “It’s something both groups need.”

– A Canadian Conference of MB Churches news release

Board of Faith and Life to streamline its mandate?

Winnipeg, Man.- The Board of Faith and Life (BFL) of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches concluded its first look at a work in progress, a task force report proposing measures the BFL can take to work more closely with the conferences executive board. The report was one of the major items on the agenda at the BFLs fall meeting in Kitchener, Ont., Oct. 2526.

The 14-member board is responsible to report on the theological and ethical health of the denomination to the annual conference of members, a function called spiritual watchcare. But both faith and life and executive board members felt they should work more closely on strategic ministry and governance within the Canadian conference. The task force report, authored by BFL chair Brian Cooper, executive board moderator Paul Loewen, and executive director Willy Reimer, is the result of that desire for strategic alignment. Two members of BFL currently sit on the executive board, and the executive director sits on the BFL, but structural adjustments could foster a more effective process, said the task force.

Proposals still under consideration by both boards include regular BFL reports to the executive board, to help both bodies stay in step. Another proposal would see executive board strategic decisions being made in concert with BFL, to help both boards bring their respective resources to bear on initiatives. BFL could work effectively as the theological resourcing board for the executive board, operating consultatively, according to the report.

The task force says a new, streamlined structure would eliminate governance confusion, create greater strategic unity, and enhance the relational and ministry alignment between the two boards.

Both boards are committed to further study of the recommendations before proposing any action.

Cooper, affirmed this fall as chair of the BFL, said there is a real opportunity to do some bridge-building, both relationally and theologically, within the conference. He believes God has prepared the way to work more closely and productively together.

At its Kitchener meeting, the BFL also considered the Canadian conferences relationship with the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief agency of Anabaptist churches, to which BFL appoints delegates. The board affirmed the policy direction of the MCC to develop a more strategic relationship with churches of both denominational organizations.

BFL vice-chair Terrance Froese said there is a hope the relief organization can move closer to the roots of its supporting denominations. He said MCC has laid the tracks. Now it remains to be seen if therell be a train to use them.

The BFL will also give further thought to broadening its membership base to include more of the ethnic diversity to be found within Canadian conference churches. The question was raised during a BFL question and answer session on the last day of the 2011 Study Conference, also held in Kitchener. There are some faces I dont see here, said Mike Nishi of Vancouvers South Hill Church. Other Chinese churches, Vietnamese faces how is the BFL working at bringing these other churches out? he asked.

Cooper said it is a question under active consideration, and the BFL is aware it needs to find a way to reflect the ethnic diversity of the national conference. Reimer agreed that there is a diversity and a breadth of membership in the Mennonite Brethren that was not reflected at the study conference. We desperately need them to come to the table, he said. We need to encourage, to formalize our participation.

a Canadian Conference of MB Churches new release

Executive board takes a long view for 2012

Winnipeg, Man. – The executive board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is reviewing its missional options as it moves into the year 2012.

Meeting in late October, board members discussed the mission statement of the MB churches of Canada and current suggestions that the statement be updated and revised.

The central focus of a statement, said moderator Paul Loewen, is the commitment by MBs to reach Canada with the good news of Jesus Christ. Board members discussed the accomplishments of the past year and considered what the Canadian conference can do in the context of the larger church (inter-denominationally), especially relative to resources, personnel, and programs.

The board also reviewed strategic issues to be dealt with at its January meeting, especially the proposal to harmonize the work of the executive board and the board of faith and life (BFL) to facilitate more functional collaboration on initiatives. From a strategic standpoint, Loewen said, thats really important. He, along with BFL chair Brian Cooper and executive director Willy Reimer provided a report to both boards on possibilities for greater collaboration.

Loewen said both boards share the vision to reach the rest of Canada with the gospel. One of the ways this vision is already being evidenced by development of the C2C Network (national church planting, led by Gord Fleming), and by the increased interest and commitment on the part of provincial conferences who are either interested or have already joined forces in this national initiative.

The executive board also discussed the Mennonite Central Committees New Wineskins proposals to bring the relief and development organization more intentionally alongside its participating denominations. The board decided to continue its relationship with MCC Canada with a hope to increase MB values and voice, reversing MCC’s earlier drift from MB orthodoxy said Loewen. He said MCC is currently gathering input from its constituencies.

The executive board meeting was held prior to the start of the Canadian conference 2011 Study Conference in Kitchener, Ont..

-a Canadian Conference of MB Churches news release