STEINBACH, Man.—The EMC’s ministerial spent the day of July 1, 2016, on the campus of Steinbach Bible College responding to the first draft of the proposed EMC Statement of Faith.
Ministerial members were welcomed by Board of Leadership and Outreach (BLO) chair Peter Doerksen, and Ralph Unger led in the song Wonderful Grace of Jesus. Host pastor Earl Unger (Stony Brook) led in a devotional based on Rom. 15:1-7, saying that being strong is shown in our attitudes to non-essentials. God expects us to be sensitive to other Christians and to build them up. He encouraged prayer for unity and praise for biblical unity.
Statement of Faith Review
Dr. Darryl Klassen, chair of the Statement of Faith Review Committee, said input was welcomed today and by written submission after the meeting. The revision will be presented in six months, he said. Conference pastor Ward Parkinson said, “For some of us theology geeks, this is like the Stanley Cup.” Fighting is allowed only on the peace position, Ward quipped.
A video is presented that outlined the process to date. The current version of the Statement of Faith is 20 years old, a committee was formed to review it, wide input was sought from churches, and the draft was prepared. After input, the second draft will be presented in November 2016. Once approved by the ministerial, it will be presented for approval to conference council in 2017; the statement is part of the EMC constitution, which can be changed only with council approval.
The 13 articles are The Bible, God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit), The Creation, The Dignity of the Human Race, The Fall of the Human Race, Satan, Salvation, Discipleship, The Life of Peace, The Church, The Ordinances (Believer’s Water Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Footwashing), The Resurrection, The Return and Final Triumph of Christ). In the new draft, the names and number of articles remain the same.
The ministerial members picked three of six half-hour discussion groups in the morning and again in the afternoon—each in a separate classroom. Members got to attend a total of six groups, which permitted significant discussion. BLO and review committee members guided discussions and recorded responses to help shape the second draft.
For instance, at the session on The Bible, committee member Cameron McKenzie asked three questions about Article One: What do you like? What do you have questions about? What is a concern?
Tribute to Ward and Janine
When the groups reassembled in SBC’s chapel, chair Peter Doerksen highlighted that this was Ward Parkinson’s final ministerial meeting as the EMC’s conference pastor. There was a time of tribute for Ward and Janine. Ward was recognized and thanked for his wisdom to churches, his encouragement, being a good friend, visitation, for staying overnight, evenings of chatting, being a good conference pastor who works hard and well, constancy, humour.
Ward and Janine were recognized as a good team that is encouraging. They went “above and beyond”—Janine with watching children, and both with being hospitable when two delegates had an unexpected three-day stay after their vehicle broke down. Alvin Plett, Charles Koop, and Peter Doerksen led in prayer for Ward and Janine.
A time of prayer followed in small groups: for a new church plant, for a hurting church that suffered a split and is involved in mediation, for returned missionaries seeking a new ministry, for “serious” dating with Logos Church, for Many Rooms and its doubling to six house churches, for a church that is “floundering,” for storms weathered—and more.
- Terry M. Smith