“Connections: God’s church in the 21st century” was the theme when 143 delegates gathered on Feb. 29 for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting at Cedar Valley Mennonite Church.
In his opening remarks, executive minister Garry Janzen addressed the topic “Living into MC B.C.’s imagination.” He noted that, over the past 20 years, the Mennonite church has moved into a missional church paradigm. “It’s a way of being, as opposed to a program,” he said.
Janzen listed three key themes as the regional church moves forward: Defining and engaging an Anabaptist identity; building connections and trust between and within congregations; and being a missional and reconciling community.
Janzen also addressed new ways of thinking about getting church work done. “Is the committee culture becoming a thing of the past?” he wondered. A new way of thinking might be to have people get involved in a specific short-term issue to accomplish a specific goal or outcome.
New church welcomed
A new MC B.C. connection was celebrated when Vietnamese Grace Mennonite Church was accepted into membership, making it the third Vietnamese congregation in the regional church.
Seven churches involved in revitalization outlined the programs for which they are seeking funding from the Mountainview Fund that was created from the sale of a former church property in 1997, with interest set aside for new initiatives, especially in the Greater Vancouver area:
- Chinatown Peace Church of Vancouver, which is sponsoring young interns for church work.
- Living Stones Mennonite Christian Church, a primarily Chinese congregation with a regular attendance of about 12, and Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship, both of Surrey, for missional coaching and outreach.
- Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey would like to extend the ministry of its associate pastor, Bless Len, who is a bridge between the English-speaking and Karen communities.
- Peace Mennonite Church of Richmond believes it is called to be a people of vision and it wants to appoint a community engagement and outreach pastor to work 20 hours a week.
- Peace Church on 52nd in Vancouver, a primarily elderly congregation, is situated in a diverse neighbourhood with many ethnicities. It aims to flesh out its ministry, expand and be good neighbours to those in the neighbourhood.
- Eben-Ezer Mennonite in Abbotsford is seeking to bridge the gap between families who drop off children for programs but who do not otherwise engage in the life of the congregation. This plan is to “design, discern, disciple.”
Appraisal, sale of former church land approved
Delegates passed a resolution to approve the appraisal and sale of the property of the former Clearbrook Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. Ten percent of the funds from the sale are to go to support the ministry of MC B.C.’s Indigenous Relations Group. Another 10 percent will go towards uses specified by the regional church’s leadership, including increasing the church engagement position and establishing two ministry hubs in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The remaining 80 percent is to go to congregations that apply for specific funding for projects that fall within the areas of revitalization; church planting; leadership training; and service, peace and justice.
With future sale of the property uncertain, a resolution that MC B.C. will “examine, evaluate, and, if needed, adjust the terms of disbursement” for the 32027 Peardonville Road sale funds in 2025 was amended to read “three years after the sale date.”
A change in leadership was acknowledged as MC B.C. bade farewell to Lee Dyck, who gave reflections and thanks as she stepped down after seven years as moderator. “We are the beloved of God, regardless of race, gender, or who we are,” she said. “I am convinced that a community called ‘beloved’ is possible.” New moderator Gerry Grunau was the former chair of the Finance Committee.
A resolution to combine the Evangelism and Church Development Committee and the Church Health Committee was passed.
Lead conference news
At the Lead conference on Feb. 28, facilitator Daniel Whitehead led three sessions on “Being human: The church and mental health.”
The first session focused on the necessity of relationships. “Interdependence is a much higher goal than independence,” he said.
The second session was on relating to people experiencing mental illness, care of self, and relating to others socially. “Every experience we have, God is present,” he reminded those in attendance.
In the third session, Whitehead talked about self-care, which he defined as “any activity that we do deliberately to love and care for ourselves.” He concluded by saying, “You need to take self-care seriously. We must receive love and care for ourselves before we can offer it to others.”
Participants then had the option of attending workshops on depression, dementia, and listening to stories from those with mental-health challenges.
Do you have a story idea about Mennonites in B.C.? Send it to Amy Rinner Waddell at email@example.com.
Living into a new imagination
Lee Dyck, left, outgoing moderator of MC B.C., reads a final blessing along with Garry Janzen, the regional church’s executive minister, at the conclusion of the 2020 annual general meeting on Feb. 29. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)