Q&A with moderator Bruce Enns

There has been a lot of discussion following the Executive Board’s announcement that Willy Reimer would be leaving his position as executive director. Moderator Bruce Enns provides his personal perspective after reflecting on a difficult time.

It’s been a week since the announcement that Willy was leaving. What have you been thinking about during that time?

My mind has gone to Lamentations 3 since I think it applies in various ways. It acknowledges our need for grieving while giving us a perspective of courage and hope.

“I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

These verses have been a great comfort to me. I have also been encouraged and very thankful for the many expressions of prayer, interest and concern for our conference, and especially for Willy and Gwen.

Why didn’t the board announcement give more context given the magnitude of the decision?

The meetings last week presented a huge challenge for me and all of the members on the executive board. Not only did we have to face a heartrending decision about Willy, but we had to deal with other pressing board business, while trying to appropriately communicate a very difficult decision. I knew the official announcement would be inadequate and raise many questions since communication in the midst of rapidly moving events is typically a challenge. I hope the responses I provide today will provide some insight.

What was the main reason Willy had to leave?

It is my belief that many things accumulated over time to develop mistrust between board and staff – and it went in both directions. There was no one weakness or incident related to Willy that led us to the final decision. There were complicated, layered issues, some smaller and some bigger. Some are Willy’s to own and some need to be owned by the board. But by either not recognizing them, or by not being willing to see them or deal with them, they grew larger with more implications, creating more mistrust. Again, it goes in both directions.

Willy is a strong point leader who has taken our conference a long way with passion and faith, which made this decision so challenging. Many have responded well to Willy’s leadership while some have had challenges with his style and approach.

Without the confidence of the board, any executive director is not going to be able to successfully lead, especially in challenging times. It was evident that this level of confidence was not there. At the same time, Willy didn’t have confidence in the board’s mode of operating. After taking everything into account, the board decided that Willy should not continue in his role.

This has been an extremely difficult decision to make given that Willy is a godly man whom we love and respect deeply.

What do you mean by “the board has issues to own”?

My personal observation is that the current, and previous boards of the past few years, have to take their fair share of responsibility for where we’ve landed today. We have not implemented or lived out our governance model the way it was intended. Our current structures and relationships are complex and very challenging to lead. Our current representative board, with a high turnover rate, is not working well.

This left Willy in a vulnerable position that would be difficult for anyone to lead. The broken parts of the system further exposed points of conflict. All these things together led to a breakdown in relationship between Willy and the board.

How is Willy dealing with the situation?

I can say that he has walked with much grace through this painful process. The senior leadership team has done the same and we appreciate how they have conducted themselves in these difficult days.

I remain in contact with Willy and will continue to support him in any way I can. We have known each other for a long time and our relationship is important to me.

Who is going to fill the executive director position?

Ron Toews is now the interim executive director for the immediate short-term and we’re working on plans from there.

The board appointed Michael Dick as assistant moderator.

The board has indicated their desire for each of the senior leadership team to continue their work. We have a gifted and passionate staff throughout the conference who are committed to the mission before us and we will stand behind them.

There are some incredible ministries happening across the country through our MB family as a whole and also in the ministries of CCMBC such as L2L and C2C. Transformation continues to happen; God is at work among us.

What challenges do you see ahead for the conference?

Our big challenge is that we are not aligned well for truly being on one mission together as we’ve been talking about lately in our MB family, and I see this as a critical moment for us. We need to first decide if our entire MB family desires to be together on one mission that is local, national and global. Then, we will have to figure out how to collaborate as we work together toward this goal. Lastly, we need to set up better support structures that allow for the best way forward.

I think our structures will need to look radically different. This seems to be an appropriate time for reviewing where we are and then making the necessary changes.

One of the structural changes is in process. Our Legacy Fund is well on its way to being established and I come away from these meetings confident of our financial stability in this area. There will be an opportunity to ask more questions during a moderated conference call Dec. 13, 2016. (Details forthcoming.)

Another challenge is to develop more effective two-way communication strategies across a large nation in 2017. I commit to work diligently with the board, staff and our MB family to address the issues in front of us; to listen well and communicate as transparently and effectively as possible. But people have also wisely commented that we need to refrain from the urge to move and change and strategize quickly. Although there’s much to do, we need to pause and listen to the Spirit of God, trying to gain a better sense of what God doing in our midst right now?. I know I need more of that in my life right now.

We need a season of Advent – of waiting, of longing for Jesus – of hope in the Wonderful Counsellor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

How has this process affected you?

I have had a whole range of emotions from disappointment, to deep sadness, to the anticipation of change and wondering what Christ is doing through all this in our MB family. I have also had anger – not at any person, but at the one true enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy our trust, unity and convictions around our mission (John 10:10). Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Throughout this time, I have known what it is to be upheld by many faithful prayer warriors. I am grateful and humbled.

I remain excited for what God is doing in our churches. I know there is a strong commitment to our mission of multiplying Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. God is still on the throne and we trust he will lead us by his Spirit through this.

May God give us wisdom, humility and courage as we continue to walk in faith.

Bruce Enns

Bruce Enns

Do you have anything else to add?

Please pray for Willy and Gwen – they are dear people who are loved deeply.


Board Announces Leadership Change

The Executive Board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) announced today that Willy Reimer will be leaving his position as Executive Director effective November 25, 2016.

After much discussion and prayer, the Board came to consensus that a leadership change was required for the opportunities and challenges facing the conference at this time. This difficult decision followed a thorough and thoughtful process in board sessions which included mapping out the strengths and challenges in our conference. The process included the use of an external facilitator who helped the board synthesize the diverse perspectives from previous conversations held with Executive Board members, staff, conference leaders and churches.

David Miller, the chair of BFL reflected “The BFL, in accordance with CCMBC governance principles, has walked with the Executive Board throughout the process.  The Executive Board has sought to serve in an approach rooted in love and discernment as expressed in Philippians 1:9-11.”

“Willy is a passionate man of God who excelled at articulating the vision and mission of the denomination,” said Bruce Enns, Acting Moderator. “We hope that Willy will continue to use his gifts to serve the Kingdom in some capacity.”

In his years as Executive Director, Willy led the conference in the establishment of a new vision around the mission of multiplying “Christ centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.”  In addition he led the process of renewing an alignment of conference ministries and strengthened the partnerships between the national and provincial conferences to serve all our MB churches, which include the ministries of L2L and C2C.

The board has begun an evaluative process to review governance challenges that the board must own; as well as  leadership needs within the denomination.  Our desire as a board is to continue to align conference ministries to address the missional realities that local churches find themselves in as they serve in their communities and the world.

Please join the board in holding Willy and Gwen in prayer as they trust God for directing their future ministry.

The Board, together with our staff, remains committed to our mission of multiplying Christ-centered churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. Your continued prayers towards that end are deeply appreciated.

For more information contact mbboard@mbchurches.ca

CCMBC Executive Board

Bruce Enns (SK), Acting Moderator

Marilyn Hiebert (BC), Secretary

Michael Dick (BC), Member-at-Large

David MacLean (BC), Member-at-Large

Howie Wall (SK), Member-at-Large

Karen Grace Pankratz (MB), Member-at-Large

Don Petker, BC Moderator

Matt Dyck, AB Moderator

Tony Martens, SK Moderator

Ruth Schellenberg, MB Moderator

Karen West, ON Representative

Zacharie Leclair, QC Representative

Paul Lam, BFL Representative

David Miller, BFL Representative

Executive Board Transitions to Acting Moderator

The Executive Board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) announces the transition from Moderator Harold Froese to Acting Moderator Bruce Enns.

The Executive Board regretfully accepted Harold’s resignation, effective September 12, 2016. At the request of the Executive Board, the current Assistant Moderator, Bruce Enns, has agreed to assume the role of Acting Moderator.  This decision follows the process outlined in the CCMBC Executive Board governance manual.

Harold began serving on the Executive Board in 2011 and he assumed the role of Moderator in 2014. We deeply appreciate the wisdom and leadership that he provided to the Executive Board, as well as the Finance, and Audit Review Committees. Harold assumed the role of Moderator during the time that CCMBC was without a Director of Finance and was facing some major financial decisions, including the decision to form the Legacy Fund. He helped lead the conference through these decisions with expertise and integrity.

Harold submitted his resignation for personal reasons related to governance and operational issues between CCMBC senior staff and Board leadership. Harold states, “I continue to be very excited about the ministry opportunities God has before us. Thank you again for the privilege of serving with you. My faith has grown as we have discerned God’s leading together and, I thank you all.”

Harold will remain as an active member of the Legacy Fund first Directors Board, continuing to give direction and stability to our financial future. Bruce Enns states, “We are so thankful for Harold’s significant contribution to our conference, and for having his ongoing wisdom and input in the Legacy Fund”.

The Executive Board held a special meeting on September 13th to pray and discern a plan moving forward, and will continue to keep its constituents informed as well as continuing to build stronger and more accountable relationships with CCMBC staff and constituency. The Board, together with our staff, remains committed to our mission of multiplying Christ-centered churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. Your prayers towards that end are deeply appreciated.

For more information contact mbboard@mbchurches.ca

CCMBC Executive Board
Michael Dick (BC)
Gerald Dyck (MB)
Matt Dyck (AB)
Bruce Enns (Sask.)
Marilyn Hiebert (BC)
Paul Lam (BC)
Zacharie Leclair (QC)
David Maclean (BC)
Tony Martens (SK)
Karen Grace Pankratz (MB)
Don Petker (BC)
Howie Wall (SK)
Karen West (ON)

Update on C2C & MB Mission Task Force

A first draft of the Terms of Reference has been prepared regarding the task force that combines the C2C Network and MB Mission.

The document will be finalized by the CCMBC Executive Board at their meetings in November.

Click here to read the C2C and MBmission Task Force Terms of Reference.





CCMBC Statement re: TWU

CCMBC invites churches to pray for Trinity Western University

February 10, 2015

Dear Mennonite Brethren Churches of Canada,

The executive board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) invites all MB churches to pray for Trinity Western University (TWU), Langley, B.C., as the school leads the charge on religious freedom in our country.

TWU is currently facing a battle with the B.C. government to obtain accreditation for its law degree program. In April 2014, the Law Society of B.C. voted to permit the school’s graduates to practice law in the province, but revoked their decision in late October.

At issue is the university’s community covenant, which states, in part, that “community members voluntarily abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Those opposed to TWU’s school of law are questioning students’ ability to practise law fairly and without discrimination.

To date, there has not been one case of discrimination by TWU graduates due to their training in a Christian school. In fact, the university’s community covenant affirms that “a distinctly Christian way of living finds its fullest expression in Christian love, which was exemplified fully by Jesus Christ, and is characterized by humility, self-sacrifice, mercy and justice, and mutual submission for the good of others.”

CCMBC recognizes that this legal challenge has the potential to impact churches and religious organizations across Canada. If TWU loses its case, this will set a precedent where personal rights overrule freedom of religion.

In an encouraging development, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled, on Jan. 28, that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society does not have the authority to refuse to recognize law degrees conferred by TWU’s proposed school of law. In his ruling, Justice Campbell said there’s “nothing illegal or even rogue” about asking students to comply with a code of conduct based on religious convictions.

CCMBC encourages churches to pray, in particular, for TWU president Bob Kuhn and the university’s legal counsel, who stand in the middle of the controversy. “As a private Christian university, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs,” says Kuhn. “We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values.”

The university encountered a similar battle in 2001, when it faced opposition from the B.C. College of Teachers following TWU’s request to open a school of education. The Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled in favour of TWU.

TWU’s current legal battle signals the fact that religious freedom is under siege for all religions in Canada. Please consider how you might support TWU at this time, including speaking to your Member of Parliament to voice your concern.

As Christians, we recognize that, in this world, we will have trouble. We also take heart, knowing Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). In this spirit of hope and peace, we want our voices to be heard. We believe it is possible to hold strong Christian convictions while continuing to function as valuable, contributing members of Canadian society.

Click here to download a PDF of this letter.

Willy Reimer
Executive Director

Canadian Conference of
Mennonite Brethren Churches

CCMBC addresses national-provincial drift

Executive board processes review findings, set to implement changes

Abbotsford, B.C.–At its Jan. 27–28 meeting in Abbotsford, B.C., the executive board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) unanimously approved, in principle, the findings and recommendations of the National Ministry Effectiveness Project. The project – a review of all conference ministries – was commissioned by the board in conjunction with its hiring of executive director Willy Reimer in early 2011.

Consultant Terry Mochar conducted the review between September and December 2011, interviewing national staff, provincial representatives, and pastors from across the country. The primary purpose was to create a structural and functional solution for CCMBC that will enhance ministry effectiveness by aligning all elements of the national team to a common set of goals, strategies, and messaging that reflect its vision of transforming Canada with the good news of Jesus Christ.

“Building on our rich heritage of Spirit-led revival for the glory of God, the executive board is united in leading our churches forward in that same mission,” said moderator Paul Loewen. “One hundred fifty years ago, the preaching of the gospel and the cross shook up the Ukraine, giving birth to a new movement of the Spirit. In the spirit of our Anabaptist forbears, early Mennonite Brethren desired to be radical followers of Jesus. Today, we find ourselves at a similar crossroads in our history.

“Our denomination, though well-resourced, is showing signs of apathy. Individual churches are thriving, but as a Canadian conference, we’re drifting apart. Our programs are focused internally, and there is a sense of disconnect between provinces and the national team. During the review, we heard from leaders that CCMBC has failed to inspire and communicate a national vision of what we can do together that’s greater than any stand-alone ministry or church,” said Loewen.

Mochar’s report noted several key expectations of members, around which national initiatives and plans will be built: 1) create an awakening to needs within Canada in order to inspire people to mission; 2) cast a clear vision and mission about what we can do together as churches to transform Canada with the good news of Jesus; 3) bring unifying clarity to our theological and missional centre; 4) provide support to develop pastors, firstly as disciples and then as effective leaders, so they can live balanced lives and lead healthy churches; 5) develop financial services that release congregations and denominational staff to do ministry, and release stewardship funds to ministry priorities; 6) facilitate ministry collaboration across churches and provincial conferences; 7) develop, broker, and facilitate programs, networks, and affiliations to equip churches; 8) lead the way in 21st-century communication strategies that enable us to reach the broadest constituent base possible; 9) be the main catalysts of a national unifying prayer movement that calls us to dependency upon God.

“From the findings of this ministry effectiveness project,” said Loewen, “we heard repeatedly a sense of ‘holy discontent’ and a deep desire to work together toward our mission. We can sense the wind of the Spirit moving. We believe this is a kairos moment.”

The board empowered executive director Reimer to take immediate strategic steps to realign Canadian MB ministries around this vision. This includes a search for several new executive staff members: a communications director and leadership director.

Ewald Unruh, who currently serves as director of church ministries, will transition to the role of associate national director of church planting under Gord Fleming on Mar. 1. In February, Fleming moved to three-quarter time in his role of national director of church planting.

The board also appointed a task force (Len Penner, Harold Froese, Rob Thiessen, Nancy Boese, Loewen, and Reimer) to work with the project findings as they apply to national-provincial relationships, specifically looking for ways to build stronger links between the two entities. As a first step, the task force plans to host a provincial moderator’s summit in late spring or early summer.

“In July, at Gathering 2012 in Winnipeg, Canadian MBs will consider radical steps of realignment to bring our churches, provinces, and national fellowship back to its calling to transform this country with the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Loewen.

“The board urges churches and individuals to pray for the MB family, especially for those who serve as leaders and overseers of this national calling. Let us ask the Spirit of God for unity as we move forward together.”

—A Canadian Conference of MB Churches news 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