The General Board approved a revised budget for 2016, with an overall reduction of $252,000 below the budget that was previously approved at the November Conference Council meeting. The General Board considered that this was a necessary step after the large deficit was reported for 2015.
The chairpersons of all boards met with the Board of Trustees to plan for the revised budget, and Conference staff worked diligently with the boards in finding ways to reduce spending with as little impact as possible on programming. Consideration was given to all feasible ways to reduce the budget, including the possibility of reducing staff salaries, although in the final draft of the budget, salaries were maintained.
All five boards found the exercise very challenging, as the budget was already very lean. There were reductions in the budgets of all boards. Following are some of the impacts of this reduced budget:
As you can see, Conference staff and boards will need to operate very efficiently this year. However, the core ministries of the Conference will continue, and we will persevere in the implementation of our Vision-based strategic plan.
The true nature of an organization becomes evident in the way that they respond during times of crisis. In this task of budget reductions, the boards, staff and churches have all responded in a very positive and constructive manner. It is our hope that this time of trial will help to crystalize our vision, and that the net result will be continued upward growth of the ministries that we do together as Conference.
- Tim Dyck, for the General Board
Dr. Arden Thiessen has served the EMC and wider church in various ways: as a minister, a professor at SBC and elsewhere, as a conference moderator—and more. He has written several books, but his latest might see more sales than any other: 20 Big Questions: Toward a Biblical Worldview for Restless Truth Seekers (self-published, 2016).
Few EMC ministers write theology books—period—whether in specialized or common language. Thiessen, an exception, has made himself vulnerable in the service of the Church.
So what does he write about in common language? The process of creation, free will, providence, prayer, atonement, Jesus as God and man, the Church, the End Times, heaven, hell, creation care—and more. Are some of his thoughts controversial? Readers can make their own judgments.
The Board of Church Ministries has a constitutional task to “promote the writing and publication of Christian literature.” It did not publish the book and it has not reviewed it. Its members and staff would, likely, not agree with everything in it. However, it can make you aware of it.
Books can be purchased from Arden Thiessen, from Hull’s Family Bookstores (Steinbach) and Die Mennonitische Post (Steinbach), and the EMC national office. The book is $10 at the national office. For book details click here.
The Messenger will publish solicited book reviews at some point.
- Terry Smith, Executive SecretaryTweet
Do you long for more in your spiritual life—more gospel impact, more compassion extended to hurting people, more evidence of the Spirit changing lives? Do you have a deep desire and hunger to see God use you in a more powerful way? Prayerfully consider joining an EMC Missions team in the following locations…
Our missionary team in Guadalajara invite more workers to expand their efforts into surrounding neighbourhoods.
Stories of God’s transforming power, within increasing opposition, inspire our missionaries to continue sharing the Gospel and loving their neighbours.
Invite your pastor and missions committee to prayerfully support you as you discern God’s call towards cross-cultural service. Find more information on our website, Facebook, or Twitter (@em_conference).
It draws together the classical themes of Christian theology and Anabaptist emphases. There are six lessons: God and revelation, Jesus Christ and salvation, Holy Spirit and discipleship, the kingdom and the future, church and mission, and Anabaptist history.
There is more material in each chapter than can be fully used in one lesson. The book can serve as a group study guide for six to twelve weeks, depending on how leaders select from and move through the lessons. A leader’s guide is also available.
The book is fully a Tri-Con work, with the oversight, writing, and funding involving the three conferences. The writing team is chief writer Arlene Friesen (EMMC), Darryl Klassen (EMC), Debbie Funk (CMC), and Jayelle Friesen (EMC). The overseeing committee members are Eric Goertzen (CMC), Dr. Terry Hiebert (EMMC), Rebecca Roman (EMC), Lil Goertzen (EMMC), Ward Parkinson (EMC), and chairman Terry Smith (EMC).
The book will be launched at SBC’s Leadership Conference on March 18-19, 2016. Before then copies can be obtained electronically and, after delivery, in print editions.
Year-end financials for the Conference 2015 budget are a good news/bad news story. The good news is that giving remains strong from our churches and individual donors. The bad news is that our expenses have out-stripped our receipts, and we ended the year with a $200,000 deficit (unaudited). In response to this deficit, the Board of Trustees is recommending revising the 2016 budget downward by 12%.
Most churches continue to give generously towards the ministry that we are doing together, and individual donors have continued to give generously as well. Some churches have given more, while some have given less due to local financial strains. Taken overall, the income from donations was mostly the same in 2015 as it has been for the past several years.
Conference boards and staff have done an excellent job of budgeting according to vision, and implementing the plan according to budget. Last year the budget and actual expenditure was $2,120,000 (budget) and $2,116,000 (actual). Right on target!
However, two other sources of income were lower than previous years. Transfers from estate funds are decreased, and we have been denied a government subsidy for the production and distribution of The Messenger. The reduction of these funds, together with increased expenses, resulted in this significant and sobering shortfall.
The Board of Trustees met to review the year-end financials, and to assess the financial outlook for 2016. Their conclusion is that the income will likely not increase, and could possibly decrease in the coming year. Based on this information, they suggest we consider revising the 2016 budget by decreasing expenses by $250,000, which is 12% of the total budget. This is a significant reduction. The Trustees met with all board chairs for further discussion, and all were agreed that we move quickly to adopt a revised budget for 2016. The General Board will be meeting in March to make a final decision on a revised budget.
The ministries of EMC will continue even as we revise the budget for 2016. We will maintain an active missions program, church planting will continue in Canada, churches will be informed and nurtured through convention and other gatherings, and The Messenger will come to your home and be online. In these, and in many other ways, most of the national/international ministries will continue--this because of your solid financial giving overall.
With the boards and committees having responsibilities delegated by EMC churches, we seek to fulfill the Great Commission while living within what we are given for that purpose. Thank you for your commitment, prayers, and giving. As further decisions are made, you will be informed through The Messenger, on the conference website, and by church mail.
Where do we, as a Conference of churches, go from here? For the short term, we are addressing the shortfall with the revised budget. In the long term, we may need to make difficult decisions about programming and staffing. Alternatively, one board member reflected that the shortfall could easily be offset if each member would contribute $3 per month to the budget. Seeing that happen would turn this into a good news/good news story!
- Tim Dyck, on behalf of the Board of TrusteesTweet
After having served well for five years as EMC Conference Pastor, Ward Parkinson has publicly announced his resignation, effective at the end of July 2016. This news was previously sent to pastors before Christmas 2015.
Ward has enjoyed his 10 years within the Conference Office, the first five as our Canadian Church Planting Coordinator. His reason for leaving at this time is because of his desire to return to local pastoral ministry.
The Board of Leadership and Outreach has started the process of forming a Search Committee for the next Conference Pastor. More information will be forthcoming after the Board of Leadership and Outreach meets in March.
- Board of Leadership and Outreach
Paraguay has reported many cases of Dengue Fever within the country, a disease transmitted through mosquitoes. EMC missionaries in Paraguay are requesting prayer, as many families they know have been affected in some way. One missionary also contracted the fever, but is now on the mend. Pray for healing for those infected.
- by Terry Smith
Conference council delegates on Nov. 27, 2015, approved a budget with a 2.8 percent decrease, opted to maintain home delivery for The Messenger along with further analysis, considered “member care” for mission workers, and received a summary of EMC’s results in the Global Anabaptist Profile project.
Moderator Abe Bergen welcomed delegates. Andy Woolworth, pastor of Heartland Community Church, focused on John 18:1, where Jesus travelled into the Kidron Valley, a garbage dump with a stream that carried the blood of sacrificial animals that Jesus would soon replace. As we follow Jesus, he will lead us beyond our comfort zone, into difficulties, and ultimately a place of rest, Woolworth said.
The General Board is looking at how to reimagine our conventions, with a committee making recommendations. The board will now meet four times a year and the executive as needed.
With the loss of the government grant for The Messenger, three plans were proposed: to maintain home delivery (preferred by the BCM); to save up to $4,600 by changing paper stocks and ink; or to shift to bulk mailing to churches, which might increase readers and connections, but save little. Council decided to continue home delivery for now, that analysis to be done of how churches use the magazine, and proposals be presented at July’s conference council.
Board of Missions vice chair Alvira Friesen said “member care” of missionaries is being strengthened to equip and empower workers for sustained ministry. A survey found that workers need to have a safe place, apart from the administrative team, to be heard. Ken Zacharias, foreign secretary, said we should be encouraged about what our missionaries are doing.
After 12 years Ron Penner is stepping down as EMC representative to Mennonite World Conference. Layton Friesen will serve as our EMC representative, the moderator said.
Don Peters, executive secretary for MCC Canada, said that $34 million has been spent on the refugee crisis and there is “no end in sight.” Assistance is needed for people where they are; MCC staff members are also working hard to assist resettlements. He reminded delegates that MCC is involved in 45 other countries.
Delegates discussed the proposed 2016 budget. One delegate said that a budget is a statement of what we think of as important. The budget of $2,061,000 was passed (down $59,000 from 2015).
Ward Parkinson, conference pastor, said the Statement of Faith review team is distilling responses and identifying where study is needed. He encouraged prayer for churches going through struggles.
Moderator Abe Bergen, said the MWC’s Global Anabaptist Project is to provide information to guide the church in its mission and priorities. The results are not an official theological position, but could lead to study. The survey topics reflect MWC’s seven Shared Convictions. The EMC was one of four conferences in North America surveyed, and the results are available to churches.Tweet