Delegates from congregations across Manitoba gathered at Westwood Community Church, Winnipeg, Mar. 4–5, for the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba’s (MBCM) Assembly 2016, under the theme, “The Church and its Mission.”
Plenary sessions, workshops and stories about the ministry happening across Manitoba challenged delegates to be renewed in their love for Jesus, to be empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit and to follow God’s leading into mission in the world for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Plenary speaker Chris Stevens, lead pastor of Waterloo (Ont.) MB Church, reminded delegates that the mission of the church begins with the mission of God: “God is on mission before us. Jesus is going to be the hero of the story, not us.”
Relating how Jesus healed the man with leprosy (Luke 5:12–15), Stevens said God’s desire for wholeness for his children encompasses not only spiritual but also emotional, physical, financial and relational needs. “Jesus cares about the entire person – all of what they are.”
Both Stevens and C2C Network plenary speaker Bill Hogg emphasized the need for participation in mission to be rooted in personal and corporate transformation in our churches. “Until we’re transformed ourselves,” said Stevens, “we won’t be calling out for those who are in pain around us.”
Noting that only 15 percent of churches in Canada are growing, and only 2 percent of churches in Canada are growing by conversion, Hogg challenged delegates to awaken to God’s love and affection, and to receive a “game-changing immersion in the Spirit.” Many stood as the gathering prayed for a fresh awakening to the power of the Spirit to move through churches and their leaders, empowering them to proclaim the freedom and transformation only possible through Jesus.
“Until we’re transformed ourselves, we won’t be calling out for those who are in pain around us.”
– Chris Stevens
The theme of “The Church and its Mission” carried through from the plenary sessions to the business items on the agenda as delegates heard stories of God at work through individuals and congregations in Manitoba, and celebrated the ways the mission of the church is taking shape.
At the Friday evening worship service, the gathering welcomed Christ Impacting Nations to the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba. Led by Roger Salumu, the church finds its inspiration in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.”
Friday evening, delegates also heard stories of how God is calling individuals into mission both locally and internationally. Jeremy and Adrienne Penner were commissioned as long-term missionaries in Thailand and Myanmar through MB Mission, a 10-year commitment. The Penners shared how God’s call on their lives had become clear as they served with MB Mission’s TREK program.
Jonathan Muehling explained how he is being equipped for pastoral ministry through Elevation, a new partnership between MBCM, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and local churches that combines seminary studies with experience serving as a pastoral intern in a local church.
Paul Winter, the new director of First Nation ministries for MBCM, told how God has been opening doors to ministry among First Nations peoples, both in Winnipeg’s core areas and on reserves elsewhere in the province.
Historically, Manitoba Mennonite Brethren congregations have valued education, and this emphasis was evident at Assembly. At Saturday’s session, delegates affirmed a recommendation that MBCM join the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC), Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference (EMMC) and Christian Mennonite Conference (CMC) as an affiliate conference of Steinbach Bible College.
Delegates closed Assembly by gathering around leaders representing MB schools in Manitoba (SBC, MB Collegiate Institute, Canadian Mennonite University and MB Biblical Seminary) to pray for them, recognizing them as valued partners in the mission of God.
MBCM Assembly 2016 Notes
- MBCM introduced Paul Winter as director of First Nations ministries in partnership with C2C.
- Christ Impacting Nations was welcomed into MBCM. Christian Family Center closed January 2016.
- Elevation is a new master of Christian ministries apprenticeship program in partnership with MBBS: a graduate degree done over 4 years – 1 year of TREK (MB Mission), 3 years of part-time seminary studies while working in a church or ministry.
- On March 1, 2016 Paul Kroeker joined C2C in the role of National Intercultural Mobilizer.
- 2016 Budget of $716,500 was approved, including the rate of 8 percent of receiptable revenue towards the Conference Support Fund.
- Delegates approved a motion to have MBCM join the EMC, EMMC and CMC conferences in formally acknowledging Steinbach Bible College as an affiliate partner.
—Kathy McCamus is part-time community pastor with House Blend Ministries, Winnipeg.
—Photos by Tony Schellenberg