September 2017 Video Update

“The story of Mennonites in Canada over the last 150 years is quite a remarkable one. We came with very little in hand, and through the blessing of God, we have received much. About 50 years ago, the stewardship of those resources began to be a very practical conversation that we had with each other, and pooling of those resources enabled us to begin to provide mortgages to churches and to pastors and their families.”

For a full transcript of the video, click here.

To watch the full video, click here.

 

 

CCMBC appoints interim CFO

Canadian conference appoints interim CFO

December 1, 2014

SASKATOON, Sask.—Canadian conference executive director Willy Reimer is pleased to announce the appointment of Jim Davidson as CCMBC’s interim Chief Financial Officer, effective January 1, 2015. Davidson will work 0.8 FTE and continue to live in Saskatoon, travelling to Winnipeg as necessary. Davidson will oversee both the financial operations of CCMBC and Legacy Investments Inc.

“After a long search, we’re thrilled that God has led us to Jim,” says Reimer. “His heart for the church and his accounting wisdom will be great assets to the team. We invite Mennonite Brethren across the country to pray for Jim and his family as he begins this new role.”

Davidson is a chartered accountant and comes to the Canadian conference with many years of experience, most recently as director and CFO of Falco Resources Ltd. He formerly served as VP Finance and CFO of Great Western Minerals Group, and CFO of Athabasca Potash.

Davidson is also passionate about his community, and currently sits on the board of The Bridge on 20th, a not-for-profit centre in Saskatoon’s inner city.

Davidson and his wife Colleen are members of Forest Grove Community Church, Saskatoon, where Jim serves as a council member. The couple has two grown sons and one grandson.

In January 2015, Reimer interviewed Davidson about his conversion experience, family and future goals as he steps into his new role.

Stewardship representatives end ministry with CCMBC

WINNIPEG

July 1, 2014

The Canadian Conference of MB Churches regrets to announce the permanent layoff of our four stewardship representatives, with the fifth set to retire at the end of July 2014.

CCMBC recently reported on the restructuring of its financial ministries, which includes the launch of a new entity called CCMBC Legacy Investments Inc. These changes have led to a new regulatory environment, including certification requirements for employees. As such, all five stewardship representatives will cease to serve the Mennonite Brethren constituency by the end of summer 2014.

Executive director Willy Reimer gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Al Thiessen (who served 15 years), Ben Wohlgemut (7 yrs.), David Leung (9 yrs.), Lorne Willms (3 yrs.), and Lloyd Reimer (who served 11 years and announced his retirement effective July 31).

“In the more than four decades this team has collectively served, these men have touched and equipped countless people, helping them see that God owns everything and that He invites His people to worship Him through generous and faithful stewardship,” says Reimer.

Changes in stewardship ministries

In August 2013, following the resignation of CFO John Wiebe, the stewardship representatives moved under the leadership of L2L director Ron Toews. However, due to the review of CCMBC’s financial ministries, the men found their roles in flux and were unable to have their customary conversations with donors.

“This hasn’t been an easy ten months for the stewardship reps. Yet, even as the landscape was changing around them, these brothers remained eager to serve and continued in ministry to the best of their ability,” says Toews. “Please pray for these men as they transition into a new phase of life and ministry, asking God to guide them to new and meaningful ministry.”

The CCMBC finance team continues its search for a new CFO, while maintaining its commitment to providing mortgages for churches and pastoral staff through CCMBC Legacy Investments Inc. Conference staff will continue to provide ongoing deposit services for members.

As well, L2L is developing vision and resources to help pastors and churches apply biblical stewardship to everyday life. For more information, go to www.l2lnet.org.

—CCMBC release

Electronic transactions enable faithful giving

WINNIPEG

July 22, 2014

“People give because they believe in the vision and mission of the church,” says Kim Knight, director of operations and administration at Waterloo (Ont.) MB Church. Throughout history, churches have adapted their ways of receiving those tithes and offerings.

Today, as more and more people handle their finances electronically, a growing number of Canadian Mennonite Brethren churches are providing opportunities for electronic giving.

“We want to respect people who feel uncomfortable with technology but we also want to respect people who don’t use cash or cheques,” says Brent Miller, pastor of College Drive Community Church, Lethbridge, Alta.

That’s why his church introduced an automated debit program about a year ago and is testing the benefits of a self-serve debit machine in the building.

Average attendance at College Drive’s services is about 135 people. Between 15 and 20 percent of monthly gifts are now received electronically through the automated debit program that pre-authorizes monthly withdrawals. The fee for this service is 50 cents per person, per month.

“It helps you plan your giving,” says Miller. “It meets Paul’s teachings to the Corinthians that offerings be purposeful, planned and strategic.”

The debit machine, he explains, is used primarily for church rentals and parking permits for students attending nearby Lethbridge College. The monthly fee for this service is $50.

In Ontario, Waterloo MB Church has been offering pre-authorized electronic giving for more than 10 years. Average attendance at services is 700 people. Only 25 percent of people who give regularly use this service but those who use it appreciate the convenience, says Knight.

In response to requests for online and mobile giving options, the church now accepts credit card donations through the church’s website and new mobile app. The transaction fee for electronic gifts is 1.9 percent of funds donated.

“There are practical sides to giving,” says Knight. “People want receipts. They want to earn points on credit cards. Churches need to keep options for giving current with cultural conveniences.”

David Leung, a CCMBC stewardship team member in B.C., teaches and coaches in areas of financial stewardship and leadership development.

The technology for electronic giving has been proven and is widely accepted and used by people of all ages. “We can’t turn back the clock – right now it is not whether we want to do it, but how best to do it,” says Leung.

However, before churches introduce electronic giving, Leung suggests they consider factors such as integration with accounting systems, user-friendliness, set-up expenses and ongoing costs.

Without being part of an electronic payment network, says Leung, it isn’t cost-effective for smaller churches like his congregation, Pacific Grace Mandarin Church in Burnaby, B.C., to offer online giving options.

CCMBC’s financial services department can make arrangements to accept electronic donations designated for a local church, says Bertha Dyck, CCMBC controller. “However, the receipt will then come from CCMBC, not your local church.”

“Irrespective of a myriad ways of giving, it is important to recognize that sacrificial giving is a joyful surrender to a heavenly purpose and affirms Christ’s lordship,” says Leung. “King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, ‘I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’”

—Gladys Terichow is a staff writer for the Canadian conference.

 

Centering the community in the church: Oshawa pastor inspires possibilities

By Jan Woltmann

The cataclysmic events of 9-11 marked a watershed moment for church culture in Oshawa, Ont. People literally walked away from church: in droves. According to a Statistics Canada report published in 2003, the city of Oshawa, located 45 km east of Toronto, experienced the largest drop-off rate in Protestant church attendance in Canada following the tragedy.

For Oshawa MB church planter and pastor Dave Fowler, the new reality created the opportunity to think differently about doing church.

“The original vision of the core group I started with some 14 years ago was to plant churches in schools to create a network of churches across the Durham region,” explains the veteran pastor who is partnered with two other denominations: the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, and the Christian Missionary Alliance in Canada. “After 9-11 we began exploring the notion of church as community centre – a community venue out of which a number of events, services, programs, organizations, and the church could all find a home – creating a true centre for the community.”

Life Point Church Harmony Creek Community Centre

The process of acquiring a piece of property for this purpose proved to be lengthy, rife with seemingly insurmountable setbacks, but prayer and perseverance prevailed.

On Sunday, Oct. 2, Life Point Church (formerly the Durham Church Network) held its first service in its renovated space, a United Church building that they converted into Harmony Creek Community Centre, located at one of the largest and busiest intersections in Oshawa. The service took the form of a breakfast club (an idea borrowed from several Quebec MB churches), featuring football legend, Michael “Pinball” Clemons. An estimated 300 people came to hear the professional athlete who is celebrated for his community involvement and his leadership both on and off the field.

Dave Fowler and Michael Clemons

As part of the opening festivities on Saturday, Oct. 1, Fowler invited community leaders from non-profit and charitable organizations to an all-expenses-paid, day-long leadership training event, sponsored by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC), and facilitated by stewardship representatives Robert Bell and Ben Wohlgemut (certified trainers with CCMBC’s Eagle’s Flight program). In 2009, Fowler and his leadership team experienced the benefits of such a seminar and resolved to offer it to community leaders who may not otherwise have the opportunity.

“The response to the day was overwhelmingly positive,” said Fowler. “I was thrilled to meet with people who are movers and shakers in various organizations, some of whom I’ve been working with for quite some time. It opened up new avenues of conversation for those who came to the breakfast club the next morning – that was our hope.”

For Bell and Wohlgemut, it was the first time they presented the Eagle’s Flight leadership material to a largely non-church group. Of the 26 attendees, more than two-thirds were leaders from the community.

“Life Point wants to reach their constituency for Christ,” said Wohlgemut, “and they’re doing so by providing leadership tools for people who are in secular organizations – they’re serving them by giving them very practical helps. That’s inspiring!”

To be sure, Life Point Church is realizing its dream of becoming the centre of Oshawa community life. The gymnasium, part of the existing structure, is already home to a dance school, a karate group, and several women’s fitness groups, and is converted to a “jumpzone” with inflatable playground units for community use on weekends. Renovations are underway to make room for a large daycare centre chain due to move in next month; a music school will be occupying a revamped balcony area; a professional event planner from the church will ensure that the facility is used for weddings, banquets, and concerts year-round. And more community agencies are expected to have an onsite presence in the future.

God is on the move in Oshawa. People are returning to church: in droves.

MB resource meets wonderful world of Disney

By Jan Woltmann

Once upon a time, not long ago, a Kelowna woman at a national financial firm found herself preparing an entry level budgeting workshop for a young adult staff at Club Penguin – one of the largest, most successful children’s websites belonging to the Walt Disney Company. In her search for inspiration and help, she turned to a trusty little treasure called Getting a Grip from Stewardship ministries at the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC).

“I looked for resources that I could use for a Power Point presentation, but I couldn’t find anything nearly as good as Getting a Grip, says Cindy Schellenberg of the “how to” booklet brimming with practical tools designed to put Christian stewardship principles into practice.

Cindy Schellenberg

As it turned out, Schellenberg incorporated several of the booklet’s most popular pages into her presentation and offered it as a take-home gift to participants.

“I have a great financial resource from MB Stewardship Ministries available free of charge,” she said to her young audience, “just be aware that it comes from a faith-based perspective.” To her astonishment, almost all were eager to check it out: 70 percent of workshop attendees took a copy.  Incidentally, the three founders of Club Penguin are local Christian businessmen with a very generous corporate culture of giving.

But this is only part of the story. Schellenberg, a member at Willow Park Church in Kelowna, B.C. has been a long-time fan of Getting a Grip, ever since a pastor introduced her to the resource more than ten years ago. Since that time, she’s used it to teach her teens about Godly money management, and more recently, she distributed it among her fellow marriage mentors at the church. “They found it to be a very useful guide for discussing money with their mentee couples,” says Schellenberg.

And she’s not the only one to give the stewardship booklet an enthusiastic “thumbs up.” Close to 7,000 copies of Getting a Grip have been distributed within the Canadian conference to date, and plans for a French translation are underway, thanks to the efforts of Jean Raymond Theoret, former pastor at Ste-Rose church in Montreal. “We hope to complete the translation by end of summer,” says Theoret.

What’s more, the Canadian conference offers the resource free of charge to MB constituents, and has five stewardship representatives across the country that provide financial presentations and seminars to MB churches as a complimentary service. It’s all part of their commitment to encourage the MB community to experience joy in giving, and to grow generosity within the denomination.

“The brilliance of the booklet,” says Lloyd Reimer, B.C. stewardship representative at CCMBC “is that it’s compact.” While many books on the subject can be tedious and laborious, “this workbook can be used in a variety of settings, such as at our financial seminars, in a care group, or as personal study material.”

“We’re delighted with what this resource has accomplished,” says John Wiebe, CCMBC’s chief financial officer. While the content, a collaborative effort by stewardship staff, is due for a refresh to make it even more accessible, “the principles are timeless,” says Wiebe.