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.


October 2016


“One of the great privileges I have in this work is that I get to travel the country and visit our churches from coast to coast and then on into our international community. And one of the things that strikes me so profoundly is the communities where churches are working together in mission, both within Mennonite Brethren and with the broader community.”

Click here for a full PDF transcript.

September 2016


“Today I want to talk to you a little bit about discipleship. It sounds like such a mundane topic, in the sense that we all talk about discipleship. And yet, at the very heart, at the very core of who we are as Christ followers, we are disciples; we are followers of Jesus. When we unpack that and everything that it means, signifies and implies for our lives, it’s incredibly significant.”

For a full PDF transcript, click here.

August 2016

“Hi everyone! I’m Willy Reimer, Executive Director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We’ve just wrapped up Gathering 2016 in Toronto. And you can hear the noise in the background as people still mingle about, as friends are saying goodbye after being together here for the last couple of days in Toronto.”

For a full PDF transcript, click here.

July 2016

“For years, we’ve been praying that God would move in new and dynamic ways across Canada. We know from history that prior to any of the Great Awakenings, prior to any of the great movements of God around the world – where God suddenly moved and people responded and people came to Christ or their faith was renewed – we know from history and from the writings of people like Dr. J. Edwin Orr that those revivals were proceeded by incredible times of prayer.”

For a full PDF transcript, click here.

May 2016

“The reason that we exist as a conference – our mission statement that we processed at Gathering 2014 – is that ‘we exist to multiply Christ-centred churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.’ ”

Willy’s May video focuses on the Transformation Survey, which we encourage all Canadian MB church leaders to participate in this spring!

If you would like information about the 2015 MB Church transformation survey results, you can download the following articles and reports:





For a full PDF transcript of Willy’s May video, click here.

April 2016

“At the beginning of March, many leaders from across Canada (over 800) gathered in Vancouver for the Multiply conference put on by C2C. That conference – which was to be about helping existing churches multiply, raising up church planters amongst the young leaders who attended – really became a conference about understanding the heart of God and how suffering is tied to what God has called us to do.”

For a full PDF transcript, click here.

March 2016


“As we prepare to celebrate Easter this month, I pause to think about the story of unleavened bread.

In Exodus 12, we have that described to us. In verse 17, it says, “Celebrate this Festival of Unleavened Bread, for it will remind you that I brought your forces out of the land of Egypt on this very day” (NLT).”

For a PDF with the full transcript of the video, click here.

Call to Prayer and Fasting as a search begins

We invite you to add one item to your prayers: a new president for Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary.

After serving Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary Canada as the founding president for five years, Dr. Bruce Guenther has chosen to return to teaching. Bruce’s love for teaching has always been evident and students consistently express appreciation for his work and caring relationships.Bruce’s strategic and tireless work has been critical for the establishment of a Mennonite Brethren seminary in Canada. Some highlights for MBBS during this period include: obtaining a provincial charter authorizing MBBS to grant degrees, building a faculty and staff team between Langley and Winnipeg, serving as the leader and spokesperson for BC theological schools in negotiating a quality assurance process with the government of the province of BC, and providing significant leadership in redesigning the ACTS consortium in Langley. “Without Bruce’s sacrificial and strong leadership, it is doubtful we would be where we are today, a good seminary poised for expanded service to our churches,” said Board chair Ron Penner.

Bruce will transition to a sabbatical leave on June 30. After the sabbatical Bruce will return to the MBBS faculty team to teach in his areas of specialty, which are Christian history and culture.

As the search for a new president begins, the MBBS Board and the CCMBC Executive Board invite MB churches across Canada to prayer and fasting. Not advertising or shoulder tapping but rather, prayer and fasting. “Pray that God would receive glory through this defining moment in our history, that God would make a way forward that multiplies Christ-centered churches to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ,” invites Willy Reimer, CCMBC executive director. “And pray, too, for those who will lead the search process and for those whom God is prompting to respond to this new opportunity and mandate.”

At its recent meetings, the MBBS Board of Directors embraced Vision 2020 which aims at redefining seminary to serve the church better. The search team will be consulting with CCMBC constituencies and partners. As you pray and fast, please listen to the Holy Spirit’s response with discernment, so that this becomes a moment in time where we know with clarity God’s leading.

More details will follow, but for now, the invitation is to prayer.

Willy Reimer                                                     Ron Penner
Executive Director                                           Chair of the Board of Directors
CCMBC                                                            MBBS

February 2016


As we enter into 2016, I think we’re all aware of the kind of world that we live in and the challenges that we face. We hear the stories from around the world of different acts of terrorism, and even here at home, we have events like the recent shooting up in La Loche, northern Saskatchewan. Events that break our hearts, events that remind us of the need for the gospel to be preached and lived out across this country.

For a PDF with the full transcript of the video, click here.

To learn more about Multiply and Gathering 2016, click the links below: