MB Herald Digest | July 2022

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Digest

VO LU M E 61 , N O. 7 H OW O P E N I S YO U R M I N D? GRACE AND TRUTH M U L T I P LY A N N O U N C E S N E W G E N E R A L D I R E C T O R

More than sixty years of sharing the life & story of the Mennonite Brethren in Canada


Q: How do you speak well about marriage with your neighbours, knowing that marriage can be difficult? A: Check out the Faith and Life online pamphlets about marriage and family. www.mennonitebrethren.ca/ nflt-resources


Mennonite Brethren Herald Digest is digitally published monthly by the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, primarily for the use of its members, to build a Canadian MB community of faith. We seek to 1) share the life and story of the church by nurturing relationships among members and engaging in dialogue and reflection; 2) teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values, and heritage, and by sharing the good news; 3) enable communication by serving conference ministries and informing our members about the church and the world. However, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the church as a whole.

Digest J U LY 2 0 2 2 | V O L U M E 6 1 , N O . 7 EDITORIAL OFFICE 1310 Taylor Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 3Z6 Phone: 204-669-6575 Toll-free in Canada: 888-669-6575

Lisa and Bruce Enns. Bruce recently accepted the invitation to become Multiply’s General Director. Read more on page 20.

MBHERALD@MBCHURCHES.CA W W W. M B H ER ALD.CO M

ISSN: 0025-9349 The Mennonite Brethren Herald is a publication of

CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF MENNONITE BRETHREN CHURCHES

CONFÉRENCE DES ÉGLISE DES FRÈRES MENNONITES

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HOW OPEN IS YOUR MIND? Mark Wessner

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REFLECTIONS AND DREAMS Ken Esau

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THE CHURCH DISTRACTED Rev. Philip A. Gunther

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LEADING THROUGH THE TRAUMA OF COVID Bonita Eby

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GRACE AND TRUTH CCMBC Staff

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Sharing the life and story of Mennonite Brethren in Canada

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From the editor am easily distracted. In the time it takes me to complete this editorial, I will have scanned email multiple times, taken a washroom break, and checked my phone countless times. I get distracted for many reasons, not the slightest being procrastination. Instead of getting down to work, which I’m less than fond of (sorry, friends, I confess I don’t enjoy writing editorials), I look for anything else to do instead. I should stick to the main thing, even if it’s unpleasant. Brian Tracy is famous for the Eat the Frog method of tackling tasks, a phrase borrowed from a Mark Twain quote, “If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.” I know this is a commonsense way of accomplishing what’s important, but sorry, Brian, I’m not a fan of frog legs. Another way I get distracted is procrastination based on fear and uncertainty. It reveals my wavering trust in the LORD. My default phobia is best summed up as, “Nah, this ain’t going to turn out good at all, no sir!” When things get tough, doubt creeps in, and I take my eye off the destination before me and look to the side of the road in search of rabbits, bait and tackle stands, hot dog carts, etc. I don’t just look away; I lose faith in God and prepare for the worst. Isaiah 40:12 offers me comfort

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when I lose sight of God’s mighty power: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? I am not the only one who behaves like this. Perhaps you can relate to this point of view. Churches, too, get distracted from the main thing; they move attention away from proclaiming the gospel and look to the peripheral for truth and purpose. What can a church do to get back on track? Rev. Phil Gunther discusses this trend in this month’s cover story. He offers encouragement to help steer churches back on mission. Starting on page 12, we have coverage of last month’s National Assembly. Please read how God continues to lay a road for CCMBC and its partners and pray for our denomination as we move forward by Christ’s guidance. I pray you enjoy summer and that if you engage in distraction this season, it be the wonder and beauty of nature, the sights and sounds of God’s wondrous creation. With respect,

Carson

CARSON SAMSON

Communications director


On Holy Ground Book Reprinted at Request of USMB and CCMBC Boards The CCMBC and USMB Executive Boards, made up of men and women leaders from across Canada and the US, requested that the MB Historical Commission remove about three pages from their book On Holy Ground which carries the imprint of the MB publisher Kindred Productions owned and operated by CCMBC. The book itself is a collection of women’s stories (“life-writing”) about their experiences of encouragement and/or discouragement as they served in various ministry/leadership roles in the MB family across North America. The book was designed as a parallel volume to Doug Heidebrecht’s recording of the MB story in his book Women in Ministry Leadership. However, three pages of one author’s writing suddenly departed to record reflections, experiences, and questions about her evolving perspective on gay, queer, and transgender folks and the MB church. The writer describes her journey where she expresses joyfulness at the marriage of a Christian woman to her same-sex partner and how she found her “perspective on gay marriage beginning to turn.” She proceeds to make several biblical analogies from 1 Samuel 9 and Genesis 27 to raise questions about whether “homosexuality” (to use her word) should be seen in a similar way as the OT monarchy (a compromise) and whether “queer” individuals are like Esau who still gets a partial blessing from his father. Finally, she cites River East’s statement of inclusivity, presumably as a possible model for the way forward. These three pages move beyond the recording of personal experience about being encouraged and/or discouraged in leadership, to more of a mini-theology essay advocating for a type of LGBTQ+ inclusion in conflict with a straight-forward reading of our MB Confession of Faith. While the book’s disclaimer acknowledges that the book may contain material that is not affirmed by the MB Historical Commission, USMB, and/or CCMBC, this disclaimer does not seem robust enough to justify a credentialed leader including a brief theology essay on something other than women in ministry leadership. For many MB readers, these pages will overshadow the important contribution of the other writers, create confusion about what it means for MB credentialed leaders and local MB churches to “affirm” the Confession of Faith, and unfortunately, it will reinforce the damaging stereotype that embracing women in leadership leads necessarily to an affirming stance on gay marriage for Christians. It is primarily for these reasons that the men and women leaders on the two Executive Boards took this unusual step, wrote a letter of request to the MB Historical Commission, and contributed financially to the reprinting of the book in its present form. We do regret that because of the urgent timeline of the original book printing/distribution and the complexity of working as a joint USMB/CCMBC team, we were unable to have personal conversations directly with the author, editor, and others involved. We are thankful to the men and women of the MB Historical Commission Executive and Membership for the very kind and gracious way they have worked together with us in response to our unusual request. We value our cooperative work together and look forward to more of the same in the future. Finally, we do believe that the slightly shorter edition of On Holy Ground being distributed by Kindred Productions will reach a larger audience and be more effective in its purpose of sharing MB women’s stories of their personal experiences in leadership.

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HOMEPAGE

Help wanted Bad back doesn’t hold back MDS volunteer Helmut Hein serves in kitchen at Monte Lake, B.C. Each morning, when Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers head out to job sites in Monte Lake, B.C., Helmut Hein of Abbotsford, B.C. feels a pang. “I always wish I could be going with them,” said the longtime MDS volunteer, now serving as a cook’s assistant. “But because of my back, I can’t,” he said. Hein, 66, is a member of King Road Mennonite Brethren Church together with his wife, Karin. He spent his career in the construction industry, including owning his own company, and served multiple times with MDS across North America. But years of working with heavy materials took its toll; now he has arthritis. “I have to be careful when lifting things,” said Hein, who retired in 2016. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still serve with MDS. Together with his wife, Karin, 61, who is also retired after a career in the food services industry, Hein helps make and serve delicious food for hungry volunteers rebuilding three homes lost to a wildfire in the interior B.C. community. “It’s a way I can still be of service,” he said while washing dishes in the kitchen of the Westwold community hall, home base for MDS volunteers serving in the area. While glad to be of use to MDS in the kitchen, Hein— who has served with MDS across North America in places like Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, California and B.C.— still finds it hard to watch the volunteers leaving for work each day. “I’d still like to try it one more time, maybe as a crew leader,” he said. “I know this isn’t his ideal thing to be doing, but he’s a very good assistant,” said Karin, noting that while he would love to be out building houses, cooking and serving food is one of the most important and best appreciated roles at any MDS project site. Nobody in Monte Lake who enjoys the great food Helmut helps prepare would disagree. MDS Canada needs more weekly volunteers in Monte Lake. If you can help, visit the MDS website and check out the volunteer opportunities! –MDS CANADA

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BCMB IS HIRING A BOOKKEEPER

The British Columbia Conference of MB Churches looking for a skilled and passionate person to join their team. The ideal candidate will be enthusiastic to contribute and support the work of resourcing BCMB churches. BCMB is looking for a bookkeeper who is experienced with non-profit bookkeeping and accounting principles. See the full employment listing here This is a Part-time (24 hrs/week) or full-time (40 hrs/week) with scheduling flexibility. Please send your resume to connie@bcmb.org

CCMBC LEGACY SEEKS A RECEPTIONIST & FA C I L I T I E S C O O R D I N AT O R

CCMBC Legacy Fund Inc. (Legacy), an associated charity of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC), is seeking a fulltime Receptionist/Facilities Coordinator for all ministry partner agencies at 1310 Taylor Avenue in Winnipeg. See the full employment listing here


HOMEPAGE

First Alfred Neufeld global church history grant awarded The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission has awarded three project grants, including one new grant named in honor of Prof. Alfred Neufeld (1955-2020), the Paraguayan MB theologian and Anabaptist advocate with Mennonite World Conference. It is called the Global Church History Project Grant and aims to fund projects that document the stories of churches associated with the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) outside North America. The first recipients of the Alfred Neufeld global church history grant are Anička Fast and Rodney Hollinger-Janzen for their project to translate Anička’s doctoral dissertation on African Mennonite church formation into French. They were awarded $2,000 USD for the translation project that will make her research findings accessible to French-speaking Mennonites in Africa. The second grant in the amount of $1,500 USD was awarded to Buduma Ramesh for his dissertation research into the dominant social forces impacting the lives of Dalit Christians in India, particularly the missiological significance for the Mennonite Brethren Church in Telangana. This is an MB Studies Project Grant. The third award in the amount of $2,000 USD went to Denisse Aguilar, a Goshen College student, for her senior project entitled, “The significance of shifting Mennonite Brethren women’s clothing traditions.” Her project explores what these shifts say about changes in gender roles. The award honors Katie Funk Wiebe (1924-2016), known advocate for women. For details about all the Commission’s funding initiatives and application procedures—and the news releases announcing past recipients— see the Commission’s website.

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How Open is Your Mind? BY MARK WESSNER

We did a lot of camping as a young family, and on one trip, I experienced an unexpected leadership lesson. I noticed it after it happened, of course, as I am seldom astute enough to see it at the time! Sigh. The leadership principle unfolded as my youngest daughter and I took down our tent so that we could pack it up. If you have ever taken down a tent, you know that it involves about a thousand specific steps that must be done in a precise order so that everything fits in the bag exactly as it was intended. Oh wait; it’s that complicated only if you are a perfectionist. Like me. Again, sigh. One of the disassembly jobs involved rolling up the tent fly (similar to a rain cover that goes over the tent) so that it fits into a small little bag to be stored within the larger tent bag. That was my daughter’s job so I left it to her, assuming of course, that she would do it the same way that her Dad has always done it. My assumption was wrong. Rather than roll it up, she folded it up. Shock! That is not the way that I do it. Her way probably won’t work. Bigger shock! Her way worked better than mine. Yet again, sigh. So what is the leadership lesson? That I don’t know how to pack a tent fly into its bag? Perhaps. That my daughter is a natural problem solver? True, but I already knew that. Hmm … I think the lesson is even bigger.

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As leaders, part of your and my job is to create an environment that allows (and encourages) new ideas to bubble to the surface.

The leadership principle that struck me on our family camping trip is that a good leader is open to the ideas of others. A single leader does not have a monopoly on the best leadership ideas. I don’t have all of the best ideas. And neither do you. One of the keys to effective and sustainable leadership is that we allow (and actually seek out) leadership ideas from people around us. A healthy leadership team is packed full of creative, innovative, and effective ideas, waiting to be uncovered and put into action! As leaders, part of your and my job is to create an environment that allows (and encourages) new ideas to bubble to the surface. So how do you create such an environment? 1. Ask yourself if you are a narcissistic leader. Who gets the glory for the organization’s success? Whose ideas are always put into action? The answer to both questions should not be “me and mine”, but rather, “all of us and ours”. 2. Ask others for their ideas, and take the time to listen. Here is a principle that leaders often forget … if you want the best ideas from your team, you have to give them the best information that you have. If you control the information, you will also control the ideas. However, if you share the best information with your team, your team will share their best ideas with you! 3. If you and someone on your team have very similar ideas, go with theirs. What a great way to validate their creativity and problem solving skills! You can bet that others on your team will notice and be more willing to step up as well. And remember, the goal is organizational success, not just personal success. Great leaders are open to the ideas of others. You and I have a limited amount of brainpower and problem-solving ability, so get your team involved in the process and watch your capacity and effectiveness explode!

MARK WESSNER,PHD

is President and Associate Professor of Biblical Studies for Leadership at MB Seminary.

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B Y R E V. P H I L I P A . G U N T H E R

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“ FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL , BECAUSE IT IS THE POWER O F G O D T H AT B R I N G S S A LVAT I O N T O E V E R Y O N E W H O B E L I E V E S … . ” ROMANS 1:6A “ A C H U R C H W I T H O U T A G O S P E L- C E N T E R E D P U R P O S E I S N O L O N G E R A C H U R C H AT A L L .” THOM S. R AINER , AUTOPSY OF A DECE ASED CHURCH

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perating a car while texting is distracted driving. It has the potential to result in serious consequences—a fine, loss of license, an accident and even the loss of life. A distracted driver, simply put, is a dangerous driver. A church distracted also reaps serious consequences—lost gospel opportunities, missional drift, inward focus, and even the loss of God’s blessing. A church distracted is soon a church without fruit. Is your church distracted? What I mean is, is your church distracted from accomplishing the main thing? What is the main thing? My conviction is that it is the proclamation of the gospel, and springing from that, the making of disciples. I asked the pastors of my province if their church was often distracted from doing the main thing. The answer was a unanimous “yes.” A follow up question I tossed out was “What examples of distraction are you experiencing?” The following are a sampling of their replies: (left, right, progressive, conservative, ˚ Politics green, American, Trumpian, Freedom rallies); Social issues (gender identity, LGBTQ2 efforts, ˚ abortion, assisted dying, climate change, racism, the woke agenda, various renditions of “lives matter,” Indigenous truth and reconciliation efforts, treaty land rights); laws (Bill C4, gathering and vaccine ˚ Government mandates) squabbles (style of worship or leader˚ Internal ship, organization, governance); Social media & technology; and, ˚ Religious (well known, influential ˚ Christian influences leaders calling for believers to ‘radicalize’ under some spiritualized banner). Following my conversations with these pastors, I reflected on how I could help the MB churches in Saskatchewan navigate their present distraction–saturated

landscape. I contemplated writing a pastoral letter. When I started drafting it, I believed that penning a message about the distractions churches encounter and how to overcome them would be straightforward. I was myopic. My initial presumptions about church distractions were set aside when these same insightful pastors started asking me about my own understanding of a distraction. Is a distraction always a distraction or is what appears to be one really an opportunity? Can a distraction actually be a result of fulfilling the main thing (the proclamation of the gospel and making disciples)? Is what may be diagnosed as a distraction in one setting be a part of the doing the main thing in another? Isn’t it true that some distractions can be about doing good things? I do not have the space in this forum to engage every example of distraction these pastors listed. In my mind some realities like internal conflict and political posturing clearly undermine the church from being about the main thing. Others require rigorous discernment. And so, what follows is somewhat of a circumscribed approach to the subject, but so be it. If it proves helpful, amen! If it starts a healthy conversation, perfect! A story of a ministry faithful to its original mission helped me orient myself to the subject at hand. For years I have appreciated the ministry of Tribal Trails, a weekly TV ministry of the Northern Canada Evangelical Mission (NCEM). Started in 1982, Tribal Trails exists solely to proclaim the gospel and raise up disciples among North America’s First peoples. This ministry is a basic and simple Christian production with a powerful impact through testimonies of transformed lives and a clear presentation of Jesus. What has genuinely impressed me about this work is that for over forty years it has stayed true to its reason for existence; to share the gospel and help First Peoples live that gospel practically

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“OUR MISSION IS TO FULFILL THE G R E AT C O M M I S S I O N B Y L I V I N G O U T T H E G R E AT C O M M A N D M E N T.” GOSPEL FELLOWSHIP CHURCH F O A M L A K E , S A S K AT C H E WA N

every day. In the forty years of the Tribal Trails ministry, our Canadian culture has seen the call for treaty land rights, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the social causes of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and Every Child Matters. Over the years, the episodes I watched never departed from a messaging that in every circumstance the person and work of Jesus was the best response – he was hope, freedom, reconciliation and peace. Never were these social issues downplayed or ignored; Tribal Trails simply proclaimed Jesus as THE way, truth and life in all things. My point is not that these efforts are unworthy or unimportant, but rather that this ministry wasn’t distracted by them, it kept the main thing the main thing. A clarifying question for me about the church is: What other entity has been given a God-ordained mandate to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of Jesus? There are great organizations that feed the poor, visit prisoners, achieve justice for the disenfranchised and fight for social causes. Many have the blessing of God. However, telling others about Jesus and how to follow him is to be the church’s main thing. Venturing into these other good things has a real possibility of distracting the church. I do concede that our gospel must be holistic (word and deed), and some churches carry out this balance well, but others take the social gospel path or worse, see the proclamation of the gospel as a ‘problem’ in community outreach. In such a scenario, the gospel becomes the distraction! By default, the church soon operates like another humanitarian organization devoid of the salvific good news of Christ Jesus. A fruitful church planter in my province is determined to avoid having the church he planted and now pastors from becoming distracted. He shared that every time his church gathers, they will hear about the mission of the church – to advance the gospel, raise up disciples and then plant new churches. He is diligent in guarding the gathered ‘stage’ time. In essence, during a Sunday service the church does not promote any outside ministry or mission. He absolutely encourages members and attenders to serve in other para-church ministries and community efforts, but the church’s

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gathered time is their time, promoting the gospel, making disciples and planting churches. He said he has seen too many churches corporately promote and engage in activities and ministries which are not the main thing and soon become completely distracted by a myriad of good works. Jesus, he argues, must be the church’s first love and advancing the gospel must be the church’s first response; nothing is of equal importance. He maintains that even before the reign of Constantine much of the Roman Empire was being transformed from paganism, not by Christians marching in protest against the social ills and evil of the day or establishing humanitarian organizations, but rather by persecuted and martyred believers bearing witness of the gospel. There is a lesson here for today’s church in the post-Christian nation of Canada. As Mennonite Brethren, we have articulated a solid foundation pertaining to the mission of the church. Article 7 of the MB Confession of Faith, in part, reads: “We believe the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ is for all people. Christ commands the church to make disciples of all nations by calling people to repent, and by baptizing and teaching them to obey Jesus. Jesus teaches that disciples are to love God and neighbour by telling the good news and by doing acts of love and compassion.” Here is found the intersection of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment – here we see the interplay between proclaiming the gospel, making disciples and loving our neighbour. Like a three-legged stool, if the church removes one leg, the stool collapses. If the church is distracted from engaging in one of these three activities, its ordained ministry eventually collapses. Where to from here? I am a firm believer that if Satan fails to destroy the mission of the church through some rendition of tribulation or persecution, he will endeavour to do it with rabid enthusiasm by distracting the church using well-intended busy work. The local church needs to constantly be reminded why it exists and what its God ordained mission is. The church needs to guard against anything that distracts from this


“ LOVE J ESUS , LOVE PEOPLE , H ELP PEOPLE LOVE J E SUS.” GR ACE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH S A S K AT O O N , S A S K AT C H E WA N

mission. It is here that sound discernment is needed; tough questions must be asked. What I’m advocating for are good conversations around whether your church is keeping the main thing the main thing and if not, why not? Is your church distracted? The church’s main thing is far too important to be treated half-heartedly or to be an assumed reality by leaders called to steward it. Leaders must have the courage to be like centurions at their post, guarding with unfeigned resolve the church’s God-ordained mission of bearing witness to the gospel. As the gathered church, if there arises any distraction, even if it be the most noble of social or humanitarian causes, I hope leaders have the courage to place them under the priority of the main thing. And if needed, to make a necessary cut. Friends, fix your eyes on Jesus, seek first the kingdom, be faithful to make much of Jesus and accomplish the Great Commission as you live out the Great Commandment. I close my thoughts by sharing an ancient prophetic word given to John in Revelation. This word to the church in ancient Ephesus speaks to my heart about the peril of a church distracted. May the Spirit give insight as you hear the divine warning and examine whether your church is about the main thing.

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: “I know all the things you do…But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…” Revelation 2:1-5a NLT

R E V. P H I L I P A G U N T H E R

is director of ministry for the Saskatchewan Conference of MB Churches

NEXT ISSUE The Wake I Make – assessing the ‘waves’ my words and deeds create. In the August MB Herald Digest Gunther invites us to think about the spiritual exercise of examen (spiritual self-examination) as a daily part of our discipleship experience. Gunther has readers think about questions like, “Where did I see the grace of God today? Was I a channel for the grace of God today?

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GRACE AND TRUTH CCMBC 2022 National Assembly Summary

On

June 9th to 11th CCMBC hosted an online National Assembly for guests and delegates of our MB churches and organizations from across Canada. On the Thursday evening, delegates attended three breakout sessions covering topics related to CCMBC finances, Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPAs), and the priorities of the National Faith and Life Team (NFLT). These sessions were well attended. On Friday evening we held an online celebration service with worship, communion, and a message from CCMBC National Director, Elton DaSilva calling the church’s attention to the importance of this year’s theme, “Grace and Truth.” “The theme was chosen due to the social-political climate that the church exists in today, where any conversation is deemed to be antagonistic and provoking,” DaSilva said. “To that effect the church needs to learn how to present God’s truth in a manner that also reflects God’s love.” The challenge was for us to see Grace and Truth as deeply connected ideas that Jesus is fully and equally committed to. Jesus is 100% grace and 100% truth, and as believers we must lean on both sides. “By appearing

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linked to each other these two words combine to indicate a directional approach to our faith.” DaSilva shared, “It is an inseparable tandem meaning both a ‘merciful truth’ and a ‘faithful mercy.’” Finally, he broke down the four ways we can operate in relation to grace and truth. Without either of them, we are left only with karma [rigid cause and effect]. With grace but no truth we end up in universalism. With truth but no grace, we face harsh legalism and fundamentalism. Only when we have both grace and truth can we display discipleship in the way of Jesus. Our Annual General Meeting began on Saturday morning where we heard reports from several of our representatives and partner organizations including Legacy, MB Seminary, and our National Faith and Life team. We also had reports from several of our international partners such as International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), Mennonite World Conference (MWC), and Multiply. We are grateful to be in partnership with these organizations that go beyond the boundaries of Canada and connect us with the wider Mennonite Brethren family from all over the world. “We are part of an amazing movement of MB Churches around the globe and are privileged to have great partner


“We are part of an amazing movement of MB Churches around the globe and are privileged to have great partner agencies for a denomination of our size.” – Executive Board Moderator, Ron Penner

agencies for a denomination of our size.” Said Executive Board Moderator, Ron Penner. You can find our Assembly handbook, with all reports, online and available to download here. Bruce Enns was introduced as the new General Director of Multiply. Bruce will be working from his home in Saskatchewan, but will be making regular visits to the Abbotsford, BC office and to the US. Although we had more than enough National Assembly delegates registered ahead of time to meet our quorum requirements, at the actual meeting we ended up just a few delegates short of quorum and were thus unable to officially approve our SPAs, MOUs, and nominated members. However, we did have enough delegates present to approve an amended agenda and our financial and budget motions. Approval was given for the financial statements from both Legacy and CCMBC, the 2022 CCMBC budget and the 2023 CCMBC Pro Forma budget, and to have KPMG as auditor for Legacy, CCMBC, CCMBC Pension Plan, and CCMBC Investments. While the National Assembly could not elect new members to our various CCMBC teams, a separate meeting of the Executive Board approved them on a temporary basis until they can be formally approved by the 2023 National Assembly. This follows a provision in our CCMBC bylaws.

The following received approval: Executive Board (Ron Penner, Reg Toews, Bonita Eby, Cam Stuart, Rob Dyck, and Sam Reimer); NFLT (Kristal Toews); Legacy Board (Cory Regier); Nominating Committee (David Wiebe); Multiply (Maryanne Berge); MB Historical Commission (Chris Koop, Karla Braun); MB Seminary (Matt Ewert); MCC Representative (Dave Ens, Rich Janzen). An exciting part of the day was the reveal and walkthrough of CCMBC’s brand new website. This new website brings our many organization and partner websites into one central hub. The website is expected to be completed and live by the end of this summer. The Executive Board is already at work reflecting on how to make future National Assemblies more accessible to everyone in our MB family, and to ensure that the meetings are not in schedule conflict with other national or provincial events. Although we were unable to complete some agenda items, we greatly value the opportunity to come together as a nation-wide family to discuss our goals, ideas, and processes. National Assembly is an important time for us to hear what our churches, organizations, and members are working through and where we can improve our support to the greater MB family. Thank you to all who took the time to join us and we look forward to seeing you all next year.

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2022 National Faith & Life Report to the National Assembly

REFLECTIONS AND DREAMS BY KEN ESAU

The

National Faith and Life Director and the National Faith and Life Team are tasked with questions of theology and spiritual health for our larger MB family of churches across Canada. It is a huge and overwhelming portfolio. According to our bylaws, we are firstly responsible to preserve and safeguard our Confession of Faith. I’m assuming that this does not mean fearfully protecting some old carcass but rather preserving and safeguarding something that is valuable and significant for the present and the future. We are responsible to encourage engagement with the Confession of Faith—and to provide resources that help all of us navigate theological and ethical challenges that pop up around us. Over the past year or so, we have completed the following: “Vaccinations and Living Well for Jesus,” “Loving Well our LGB Neighbours, Friends, and Family,” “Welcome to LGBTQ+,” “Living Faithfully for Jesus in Light of Bill C-4”). We have also totally revised our Code of Personal and Ministry Ethics for all of our credentialed leaders, and we drafted a version for churches who would like to use this for their non-credentialed leaders—pastors who have not yet been credentialed and for leaders/elders who are not in the credentialing pipeline. While we do regret our delays in getting these out to our churches and leaders, we have received much appreciation about them from across the country. Finally, we are in process creating Explanatory Notes and FAQs for each of our Confession Articles to clarify what our Confession of Faith says and doesn’t say. We believe that this is valuable and urgent work that will help us as a family. But we are facing the urgent question of what exactly does our Confession of Faith mean for us and how should it impact us? Brad Sumner and Rich Janzen did a study, funded by the MB Historical Commission, where 17 MB Pastors were interviewed about how our MB Confession of Faith is being used in their churches. I want to thank Brad, Rich, and their team for their work in engaging this question. The pastors that were asked were chosen to represent the diversity that exists in our MB family, and to no one’s surprise, the report notes significant diversity related to how the Confession is used. In any group, we should expect some diversity or else it is unlikely that people are being honest. There is a level of diversity that is healthy and normal, and that still allows us to walk

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together toward a common centre. However, there is also a level of diversity that is unhealthy and explosive. In these situations, regardless of how much we want to use the language of “shared centre” or “centred-set,” that explosive diversity separates us toward multiple irreconcilable centres that are in competition with each other. We can pretend to share a theological centre but it will eventually become clear that we are actually walking in quite different directions. I have often heard about the MB tent that somehow can stretch enough to cover all of this diversity—but there is not enough spandex available to cover explosive diversity. In that situation, the tent will snap back and cover no one. We will need much Holy Spirit wisdom to discern whether our present confessional differences represent a healthy diversity or an explosive diversity. We covet your prayers for this discernment. While our Confession of Faith is not somehow divinely inspired and written on stone tablets, it is designed to be our collective understanding of what the Bible says about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the gospel, the church, mission, discipleship, and the future. It is also an unusual Confession—because it is like a hybrid car—our Confession represents a mix of evangelical and Anabaptist parentage. We have what looks like an electric motor and a gasoline engine working together. While some might prefer only the electric motor all the time or the gasoline engine all of the time, we believe that we are stronger as a denomination because we have both of these elements working together. But we also need to do maintenance on and respect both the electric motor and the gasoline engine—or we will lose our unique identity. We have up until recently given our Confession of Faith significant authority to


While our Confession of Faith is not somehow divinely inspired and written on stone tablets, it is designed to be our collective understanding of what the Bible says about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the gospel, the church, mission, discipleship, and the future.

guide us and unify us. We have to reflect together on what the consequences are of weakening that authority. We consider our ultimate authority to be Jesus speaking to us through Holy Spirit-breathed Scripture. Our Confession of Faith is written to summarize Scripture—and only carries authority as long as it is faithful to Scripture. But if our Confession is indeed faithful to Scripture, then the Confession should rightfully have significant authority among us since this is part of what it means to worship, serve, and follow Jesus. There are a number of ways we could understand our MB Confession: could see it as a valuable recipe or an accurate road ˚ We map to produce a church family faithful to Jesus and Jesus’ mission in the world that therefore guides us in our thinking and action. If so, it rightfully should be something that we together commit ourselves to affirm, teach toward, and seek to reflect in our lives, individually and corporately. If so, it is also appropriate to expect MB leaders and churches to commit themselves to this recipe and road map since this is what seeking first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness would necessarily look like. could see parts of our Confession as valuable and ˚ We make that our shared centre (e.g., Articles 1-7; 17-18) and the other articles that talk about the details of practical discipleship as second tier (or disputable matters) where we can embrace much diversity among leaders/churches, stay together in the midst of that diversity, and call this the way of love and grace to each other. While some think this approach is attractive and faithful to our Anabaptist “third-way,” it is difficult not to see this tiering process as a fundamental renunciation of the Anabaptist part of our MB DNA. Hans Denck is famous for his statement: “No one truly knows Christ unless he follows him daily in life.” To suggest that some theological truth is the centre while concern for practical lived-out discipleship is mere boundary keeping goes against our Anabaptist heritage. Describing and embracing what following Jesus looks like practically in all areas of life is a key part of defining our centre. This is a significant reason why Anabaptism started nearly 500 years ago and why MBs began as a renewal movement in 1860. could see our Confession of Faith as something that ˚ We should be more like a thermometer or a snapshot of what

our CCMBC family of churches can all affirm at any one moment. This means we would need some sort of democratic polling method to test support for each article at regular intervals. Do we still like Article 13? Or Article 11? Would we need to revise articles when 25% of our churches disagreed with them—or 50% or some other number? In this case, our Confession becomes less of a recipe and a road map and more of a descriptive document. This would make room for higher levels of explosive diversity among us, but it would also make our Confession of Faith increasingly wide and nondescript in those areas. I think I can speak for the NFLT that at this point we lean toward understanding the Confession of Faith as an accurate recipe and a God-honouring road map for walking in discipleship to Jesus and toward God’s Kingdom. But we are also aware that we have not always been consistent in our expectations about Confessional integrity— caring a lot about some articles and much less about others. Speaking for myself, I hope we can move toward inviting all of our CCMBC family to engage and commit to the recipe and road map (and not just to the ingredients we particularly like in the moment). I have also encountered wildly divergent understandings of what our Confession actually declares especially about Articles 13 and 18. With our ongoing project to replace the present Commentary and Pastoral Application, I hope that some of this can be resolved and we can corporately get a new excitement for what we have actually agreed on together. But we are also wanting to reflect a posture of listening and submission to our larger CCMBC family. We are not interested

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Having a Big Theology provides us the reassurance that as we live into the future, whether it brings joy or suffering—we are in good hands because we are in the hands of a Big God.

in some defensive posture of fear or an assertive power-hungry protection of an old relic. If the Confession of Faith is not a faithful recipe and road map summarizing God’s will as expressed in Scripture, the NFLT will respond to what is discerned together by our larger CCMBC family. But changes to our Confession are a BIG DEAL—and we don’t take them lightly. Our CCMBC mission of vision says that we exist “to cultivate a community and culture of healthy disciple-making churches and ministries, faithfully joining Jesus in his mission.” Speaking now for myself, I believe that our Confession of Faith casts a supportive vision for how we together can be a faithful vibrant healthy disciple-making community faithfully joining Jesus in his mission. I will suggest four vision pieces that come out of our Confession. I am not interested in serving with CCMBC unless we are about vision—and I’m guessing you are not interested in leading and/or participating where you are unless we are pursuing a significant shared vision together. I have no interest in CCMBC if we are simply an old-folks home where we are watching day-time television waiting for the inevitable day when we are put in palliative care and the end comes. I am here today in this role because I believe that the best MB life and spiritual vitality are in front of us—not behind us. I am not interested in measuring success as a church family simply because we have stayed together and survived another year. I am not interested in measuring success as a church family simply because we have balanced our budgets and are in the black rather than in the red. We must ask ourselves much bigger questions: have we been faithful to the present vision God has given us? Are we demonstrating God’s life and vitality in all we do? Are we moving closer to what God has called us to as the Canadian MB family? I’m going to suggest four vision pieces that come through in our MB Confession of Faith—and call us to something. Our Confession of Faith is not some dead document that we don’t need to care about, but an articulation of our biblical convictions that we believe God can use to speak to us. The first vision piece is that our Confession calls us to Big Theology. Article One of our Confession of faith describes the Triune God in big terms: almighty in power, Creator of heaven and earth, and Sovereign (which means King)—and then Jesus who has been “exalted as Lord [or King] of creation and the church.” Our Confession of Faith proclaims a Big Theology—a big God. Only a big God is worthy of worship, obedience,

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surrender, and sacrifice. The American Insurance company Allstate has, since the 1950s, had the motto—”You’re in good hands with Allstate.” Our Confession of Faith says something similar—You’re in good hands with King Jesus; You’re in Big hands with King Jesus; You’re in Powerful hands with King Jesus. Having a Big Theology provides us the reassurance that as we live into the future, whether it brings joy or suffering—we are in good hands because we are in the hands of a Big God. Our response to this vision is that any church family who claims to be following the MB recipe or road map must be a worshipping community, bowing down in submission, praise, and obedience. We must be a worshipping community—bowing before our Sovereign God and this exalted Lord Jesus. If we do not worship, we have walked away from our theological vision. Discipleship and mission begin with worship. The second vision piece is that our Confession calls us to the good news of God’s Big Redemption Story. Article Two describes how God revealed himself in Creation, and then through Israel, and then “supremely in Jesus Christ.” Then Article 3 and Article 18 point us toward Jesus’ ultimate return and triumph. Our Confession of Faith highlights that God is writing a Big Story—a big redemption story that involves all creation—human and non-human. Our Confession paints this picture of Creation to new Creation, and Article 5 describes how salvation involves God taking the initiative “to accomplish deliverance and healing, redemption and restoration in a world dominated by sin.” Our proper response to this Big Story is faith, trust, and a desire to join the story. We are invited to become part of this big global and actually cosmic story—because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Our response to the Big Story is to bow,


express faith in Jesus, be forgiven/redeemed, and join the story as disciples of Jesus who collectively live out this story in all of life. The Big Story is about the Church and how God is doing his Kingdom work in the world through the Holy Spirit-empowered Church until Jesus returns. Our MB Confession has a huge emphasis on the Church (Articles 6-9) because it believes that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, bigger than our personal happiness and freedom, bigger than our security and comfort, bigger than our diverse views and interpersonal challenges. God’s big redemption story is so important it is worth suffering for. We are called to participate in the Church family because it is central in God’s big cosmic redemption story. The third vision piece is that our Confession of Faith calls us to a Big Mission. Article 7 describes how the Church has a big mission that involves making disciples, calling all people to repentance, loving God and neighbour, and witnessing to God’s reign (or Kingdom) in the world. Living in the way of Jesus— toward what I often call God’s Shalom Kingdom—is part of this mission. This Big Mission is, frankly, big—and amazing and compelling and captivating. Our response to this Big Mission must be to embrace it—and we only embrace it when we die to self and seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness. If we as the Canadian MB family do not embrace God’s big mission, we will fade off the map. You can see this over and over again as groups move away from the bigness of this mission and settle for some smaller part of that mission; a partial mission that sounds good but it is not the big mission. Only the big mission is worthy of our energy and money and time and passion. Only that big mission is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Will we as the CCMBC family embrace God’s big mission? Our Confession of Faith calls us to this big mission. The fourth vision piece is that our Confession of Faith calls us to embrace a Trustworthy Bible. Article 2 highlights that the entire Bible is inspired by God, and this entire Bible is the “infallible Word of God and the authoritative guide for faith and practice.” This means that the Bible is not simply a collection of ancient human thoughts about God and ethics written a long time ago in a place far away. This means that the Bible is not simply a vision calling us to pursue human peace/reconciliation, love, and justice (defined by many as helping people experience personal happiness, personal freedom, and the avoidance of suffering). Our Confession of Faith proclaims that the Bible is not simple or flat—but it is trustworthy to speak with clarity toward our big questions—our questions about the triune God, our questions about the gospel, salvation, peace, sexuality and gender, sanctity of life, and so on. Our Confession does not affirm a simplistic Bible, but it affirms a trustworthy Bible. Our MB response, as people of the Book, is to go back to the book and engage the book and wrestle with the book in a world—even a Christian world—that wants to jump away from deeply engaging the book. Our Confession of Faith calls us to go back to the book! To reiterate, our Confession of Faith has important vision

pieces for us that support and will ultimately fulfill our CCMBC vision. Our Confession of Faith can help guide us as we face all the craziness of our present world— our post-pandemic world, our war-torn world in danger of World War three, our ethically uncertain world around abortion, sexuality, and gun-violence, and our mentally unhealthy world. During this time, we must worship our big Sovereign King Jesus—even as we lament together before this Sovereign King about our brokenness, and the brokenness of our communities, nation, and world. But we must also see this moment as part of God’s big cosmic redemption story that God is writing. We must embrace God’s big personal and global mission and finally we must return to living with a commitment to the trustworthiness of the Book—because it is God’s primary means of communicating theology and ethical truth to us today. I hope you can see why I am excited about our MB Confession of Faith and what it can say to us in this moment. All of the resources we are working reflect our Confession of Faith’s vision of Big Theology, Big Story, Big Mission, and Trustworthy Bible. These are part of our Confession of Faith recipe or road map. Without these four, we will be hard-pressed to retain much of an MB DNA at all—much less have a reason to stay together in the so-called MB tent. Without these, I believe we will continue toward explosive rather than healthy diversity. But with these, and God’s Holy Spirit working afresh among us, I believe there is hope and a future for our MB family as we participate in God’s larger story and mission in the world.

KEN ESAU

is interim National Faith & Life Director. (Adapted from the verbal report presented to the CCMBC National Assembly on June 11, 2022)

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M U LT I P LY A N N O U N C E S N E W G E N E R A L D I R E C T O R Multiply’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the search for our next General Director has come to a happy conclusion with the appointment of Bruce Enns, effective May 16, 2022. He will give leadership to the mission agency of US and Canadian MB churches as we reach for our vision together, that the world may know Jesus. Bruce brings a wealth of experience from his previous pastoral and leadership positions. For seventeen years, Bruce served as lead pastor of Forest Grove Community Church, a multi-site church in Saskatoon, Canada. Bruce’s strong belief in the value of the local church engaging in local, national and global mission has led the church into numerous global partnerships with Multiply’s missional teams. Bruce served as a member of the Multiply Board for twelve years, and more recently as moderator of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC). Having received recommendations from multiple US and Canadian voices within the MB family, the Board invited Bruce into a mutual discernment process that began with prayer in early January. The process involved a number of meetings, interviews, and consultations. I am pleased to report that, last week, the Multiply Board unanimously voted to invite Bruce Enns to be our next General Director and he accepted the invitation. Bruce and Lisa’s home will continue to be in Saskatoon, with regular in-person time scheduled in Canadian and U.S. offices, and international travel as needed. News of Bruce’s appointment was welcomed by the U.S. and Canadian MB Conference boards: USMB Board Chair, Luke Haidle said, “We are pleased to hear that Bruce has accepted this role. Our desire is to see Multiply thrive and God’s kingdom advance.” CCMBC Moderator, Ron Penner said, “Bruce has a strong reputation as a servant leader and one who has led his church into mission. We look forward to working with him in his new role at Multiply.” We also want to thank Vic Wiens for his timely and exemplary service over the past year as Interim General Director. His calm demeanor, sense of humor, wisdom, wealth of experience and dedication to our Multiply family has proven invaluable. He will continue to work as an advisor to Bruce and the Board until such time that he retires from Multiply in August, 2022. Please join us in thanking Vic for his contribution to the mission of Multiply. God is a gracious and generous provider. As we make this announcement, we are thankful for His perfect timing and for the ongoing prayer and support of our MB family of churches. We are excited to work with Bruce and look forward to what he will bring to Multiply as together we follow God in His mission, making disciples, planting churches, and reaching nations. With continued appreciation for God’s faithfulness, Wendi Thiessen, Multiply Board Chair

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Finish lines

ROBERT (BOB) JACOB HIEBERT

Bob grew up on farms near Killarney and Fork River, Manitoba. When Bob was 17, the family moved to B.C.’s Fraser Valley. He met the love of his life, Johanna Friesen, in the spring of 1949, and they were married on Christmas Day that year. Early in their life together, Bob and Jo responded to the love and grace of God and put their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. They were baptized Sept. 19, 1955, into East Aldergrove MB Church, Abbotsford, B.C. In 1956, Bob suffered significant injuries in an accident while working at a lumber yard in Abbotsford. Following many months of recuperation, he trained as a barber and worked in that business for 16 years, while he and Jo also engaged in mixed farming on a small acreage. In early 1974, Bob’s longstanding dream of farming full time became a reality when he and Jo bought into a grain and beef cattle operation near the hamlet of New Norway, Alta. There they became members of Highland Park Evangelical Free Church. After 12 enjoyable years in Alberta, they sold and moved to a hobby farm near Armstrong, B.C., returning to fellowship within the MB

conference at Armstrong Bible Chapel. In 2007, they made their way back to Abbotsford to live in retirement, becoming members of Bakerview MB Church. Bob died after suffering a stroke in March 2022. Bob’s life was characterized by unwavering trust in God, involvement in the ministry of the church — teaching Sunday school and leading small groups, serving on church councils, and assuming leadership — love for his family, enduring friendships, and community involvement. He also delighted in the beauty of God’s creation and enjoyed camping, fishing, and travelling with Jo throughout Canada and beyond to places such as Alaska, Hawaii, Israel, and Greece. Birth: March 19, 1928 Birthplace: Winnipeg Parents: Johann & Aganeta Hiebert Married: Johanna Friesen, Dec. 25, 1949 Family: Johanna; children Robert (Karen), Susan Krause (Rick), Daniel (Dorothea); 6 grandchildren; 6 greatgrandchildren; sister Violet Sawatsky Church: Armstrong (B.C.) Bible Chapel; Bakerview MB, Abbotsford, B.C. Baptism: Sept. 19, 1955, East Aldergrove MB (now Ross Road), Abbotsford, B.C.

O B I T UA R I E S H AV E LO N G B E E N A VA LU E D PA R T O F T H E M B H E R A L D. F R O M T H E F U N E R A L B U L L E T I N S , EU LO G I E S , A N D N E WS PA P E R O B I T UA R I E S YO U S E N D, O U R EDITORS CRAFT LIFE STORIES OF OUR MEMBERS TO INSPIRE AND ENCOURAGE O U R R E A D E R S , C R E AT I N G A M E M O R I A L O F M B S A I N T S . CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT AN OBITUARY

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STRESSED?

You weren’t called to do paperwork. We were. CCMBC Legacy Fund serves pastors and churches by helping with administration and finances to free you for ministry in your local communities. Here are some of the ways we can help: Accounting services Payroll services Pensions Benefits Mortgages Please let us know if you need help or support with any of these services. Our team is here for you.

1-888-669-6575 legacy@mbchurches.ca ccmbclegacyfund.com

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Resilient Leadership LEADING THROUGH THE TRAUMA OF COVID PA R T T H R E E I N A FO U R - PA R T S E R I E S

oday we’re going to discuss how leaders can lead their congregations and communities through the trauma of COVID into a healthier place. In previous articles, I’ve written about the collective, personal and vicarious trauma many have experienced due to the pandemic. We also took a look at how past traumas and triggers affect how we understand, experience and respond to stressors. Lastly, we unpacked how heightened stressors have influenced our fight, flight and freeze responses and what we can do in response. In today’s article, we’ll look at a challenge that created pandemic stress and how we can help those we lead process well to move into the future in a psychologically and relationally healthy way.

T

WO R K LOAD

For leaders everywhere, workload increased dramatically during the pandemic. Not only were there new demands (e.g. learning new technologies), but we needed to adjust to new situations (e.g. working from home) and deal with escalating conflicts. Our communities also experienced an increased workload. Research shows that people worked longer hours, had more meetings, and took on more tasks during the pandemic. Beyond work, families needed to adjust to having children at home and being more involved in their schooling, leaving most people exhausted at some level.

WAYS TO LEAD WELL THROUGH WORKLOAD CHALLENGES

1. Rest // Now is a time for rest. As leaders, many of us want to jump right back into the vision we hold so dearly. The time for marching will come. But now is a time for rest. As a leader, how can you set aside time to rest? And how can you share your story of rest with others? Can you take extra time off to rejuvenate? Are there sports or creative outlets you’d like to engage in? Will you journal what you’ve experienced and reevaluate which parts of your role are most important? By engaging in rest yourself and modelling its value for others, you offer much-needed permission to rest. 2. Mission, vision and values // In order to move into post-traumatic growth, we must ask the question, “what is enough?” One way to engage this question collectively is to train on your mission, vision and values and invite your community to discuss top objectives and release less effective initiatives. This will create buy-in and help to define the next steps. 3. Prioritize // On the same note, this is a perfect time to reflect upon the programs and services you offer. First, determine which activities have the highest impact and which do not. Then, make priorities based on the highest impact initiatives. Prioritizing the few highest impact activities and eliminating, delegating or automating others allows for simplicity so we can get back to our discipleship goals. In addition, with fewer high-impact goals, staff and volunteers will become more focused and less stretched. Next month we’ll look at five more challenges and practical ways to lead our communities well into the future.

B O N I TA E B Y

attends and is a former pastor at WMB Church in Waterloo, Ontario. She is a burnout prevention strategist, executive coach, and owner of Breakthrough Personal & Professional Development Inc. Connect with Bonita at bonita@break-through.ca.

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A moment in time

C R A N B E R R Y P O R TA G E , M A N I T O B A , 1 9 8 6

Herb Kopp speaking at the Northern Bible Conference at Simonhouse Bible Camp near Cranberry Portage, Man. Courtesy of the Mennonite Archival Information Database

P R AY F O R S I M O N H O U S E B I B L E C A M P

On April 14, 2022, due to a significant lack of staff applications and a need for critical repairs, the Simonhouse Bible Camp Board of Directors decided to cancel camp programs for 2022. Says the camp executive director, Darrell Janzen: “We trust that the Lord is working amid uncertainty. We trust him as we work on projects this year, a work & leadership training camp for past and potential staff, and plan for 2023. Thanks for your prayers with, and for, us.”

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S U B S C R I B E T O M B H E R A L D D I G E S T W W W. M B H E R A L D . C O M / S U B S C R I B E -V I A - E M A I L