Despite falling short of a quorum, delegates attending Mennonite Church Manitoba’s fall gathering on Nov. 6 gave the board strong affirmation for its 2015 proposed budget.
The budget as presented calls for the same amount—$645,000—from congregations as the 2014 budget.
“Our thinking behind that was that we have all the indications that our giving is levelling out, said Ken Warkentin, the area church’s executive director. “We can’t expect any more and we can’t do with any less.”
A second motion dealt with how the budget will be divided between the four ministries of MC Manitoba: leadership, evangelism and service, camping and church community building. The delegates were asked to approve the allocation of monies in principle and authorized the board to make the necessary alterations pending the sale of Moose Lake and Koinonia camps.
In a final motion, delegates authorized the board to approve the details of the 2015 budget.
“We do this every year, giving approval for the board to work out the details,” said Warkentin.
Although all three motions received very strong support from the delegates, discussions conveyed a level of frustration. The call for requests to determine the future of the two camps closes on Dec. 1, and until that process is complete the board is unable to offer delegates any information.
After the closing date, Warkentin said “the board will have the authorization to deal with the request proposals, evaluate them and ultimately make a decision. I think it is realistic to say that we will make an announcement and hopefully have a business plan for the February gathering.”
Delegates received an interim report outlining a direction for MC Manitoba’s Camping Ministry in light of potential changes to the camp ownership structure. Children’s camping ministry and leadership development for youth and young adults, both rooted in Anabaptist biblical traditions, will continue to be a primary focus. The vision also includes infrastructure changes at Camp Assiniboia to better accommodate multi-group uses, the establishment of a “gap-year” program for young adults, the creation of new stewardship programs and expansion of off-site programs.
“Because of the opportunity before us with the sale of the two camps, changes in structure will be necessitated,” said Warkentin. “Right now, our structure is designed to some extent around Camping Ministry.”
For this reason, the board is crafting a new job description for the position of director of Leadership Ministries. Former director Henry Kliewer retired in September.
“There are a lot of unknowns as we reorganize, but we are not eliminating the position,” Warkentin said. “In fact, we will be advertising in the next few months.” Warkentin will be assuming some of the responsibilities of the position in the meantime.
Time was given for brief reports from the ministry directors.
Norm Voth, director of evangelism and service ministries, reported that the Partnership Circles program had a very successful summer, with more than 20 communities making meaningful connections through MC Manitoba congregations and northern indigenous community partnerships.
Although summer camping presented some unique challenges, due to illness and flooding, it was a successful year, with nearly 700 child and youth campers, more than 200 disabled adult campers and more than 200 camp staff taking part.
“It is a very interesting time to be the church, perhaps even more so for MC Canada,” said Warkentin, who sits on the national church’s Future Directions Task Force. “The Spirit of God seems to be moving in unique ways. Both the Being a Faithful Church process and the task force are forcing us to recognize those changing fundamentals in the way we organize. I think we are being responsive to the Spirit, although the prospect of change can be very frightening.”
--Posted Nov. 19, 2014