STEINBACH, Man.—EMC delegates from five provinces met on July 2, 2016, at SBC and reviewed options for The Messenger, learned more about the 12% rollback of the 2016 budget, were updated on potential church plants, and heard from a new pastor.
Moderator Abe Bergen welcomed delegates. Anthony Reimer said, in a devotional, that a God-given vision gives direction and satisfaction as people look back.
The strategic plan is tough implementing, but general secretary Tim Dyck is using a template to track changes, Abe Bergen said. Convention 2017 will be held at Morweena EMC on June 11-13.
A committee will be formed to review organizational matters, such as the constitution’s stating that the moderator must be ordained for at least three years. The role of women in the church was to be discussed after the Statement of Faith review; the time is close.
Jessica Wichers, BCM member, said the Board of Church Ministries was to provide three options that reflected a strategic evaluation of the magazine. An online survey of EMCers revealed how people prefer to receive the magazine: digital (57%), print (25%), both (18%). Respondents said The Messenger’s top three purposes are inspiration, unity, and instruction. Some people read more than 50% of it, some less, and some not at all. A strong majority (64%) thinks the magazine is a “suitable place to discuss controversial issues.”
Chair Russell Doerksen presented three options. Option One was Print Focused with nine print issues, a third-party survey of EMC readers and non-readers, and a switch from PDF to a “mobile friendly solution.” Option Two was a Balanced Digital with six print issues, a blog-type website as a digital solution, increased print quality and honoraria, and a switch from PDF to a “mobile friendly solution.” Option Three was Digital Focused with four print issues, a blog-type website, a “mobile friendly solution,” an EM Conference app, and quality “best of” issues.
There was considerable discussion. The BCM was commended for how it responded to the council’s past direction. The council voted for Option Two—Balanced Digital.
Board of Leadership and Outreach chair Peter Doerksen said it is dealing with Ward Parkinson’s resignation, appreciates the Statement of Faith committee’s work, and wants to strengthen the ministerial examination process.
Charles Koop, church planting coordinator, said that Jesus is telling us to come or go over there. Discussions are happening with a Chinese church, about another church in Winnipeg, and about Champion and Airdrie (both in Alta.). Work is happening on Dakota Tipi, in Ste. Agathe (both in Man.) and in Two Hills, Alta. Church plants reach people for Christ, he said.
Pastor Hyoungjin (Frankie) Kim shared that he had learned of Pelly through the Internet. He was visiting New York City when he learned Pelly still needed a pastor and sent his resume. He was excited to be “the first Asian pastor” in the EMC.
The Statement of Faith review has gone well; the second draft is to be presented in November, Ward Parkinson said. The goal is not to get it done, but to get it done together in a way that faithfully reflects our understanding of Scripture. The hope is to present a revised version to conference council in a year, he said.
Enthusiasm over sponsoring refugees has turned into hard work, but Ward said churches are doing well and need to “keep it up.” He expressed thanks for allowing him to “hang out” as conference pastor. People prayed for blessing and direction upon Ward and Janine.
Board of Trustees
The current Extended Health Benefit Plan is not working well, BOT member Jake Elias said. Consideration is being given to a Health Spending Account. The current shortfall till June is $179,000, much improved from $356,000 in 2015.
Board of Missions
Vice chair Alvira Friesen said that there is urgency in our reaching, as well as in our living, gathering, and teaching.
Foreign secretary Ken Zacharias spoke about Nicaragua (a 50th celebration happens in 2017) and northern Mexico.Church planting teams operate in Minga Guazu, Paraguay, and in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Zacharias encouraged churches to debrief with workers as part of member care. Anthony Reimer (Blumenort) spoke of Safe Haven Ministry, where missionaries can seek, with anonymity and safety, counsel about problems.
Truth and Reconciliation
From the TRC’s 94 calls to action, Tim Dyck highlighted items 48 (the U.N. declaration), 49 (the Doctrine of Discovery), 59 (an education strategy in churches), and 60 (training of clergy). He said that up to one-third of EMC churches has a ministry with FN people. The EMC could write on the Doctrine of Discovery (seems cold and impersonal), hold workshops, tell our story “together” with FN people and hire a FN resource person, he suggested.
- Terry M. Smith