MC Canada studies membership issueMC Canada and MWR staff
WINNIPEG, Man. — Whether congregations should be allowed to belong to a provincial conference but not the denomination is a top-priority question for Mennonite Church Canada’s newly formed Faith and Life Committee.
An answer is needed because British Columbia conference delegates voted in October to allow their congregations the option of being provincial members only.
A 114-13 vote favored remaining in MC Canada so long as each MC British Columbia church “would be given freedom to connect and be involved in ministry at whatever level each feels called to do.”
This raises the possibility of a conflict with MC Canada’s bylaws, which state that when a congregation is a member of an area conference, it automatically is a member of the denomination. Mennonite Church USA has the same rule.
The Faith and Life Committee is working to have a recommendation available for testing by delegates at MC Canada’s annual assembly in Edmonton, Alta., this summer.
Committee chair Rudy Baergen of Winnipeg wants to apply theological rigor to the question
“We need to respect congregations that challenge the wider church,” he said.
A significant part of the committee’s work will be studying and discerning what Scripture says about believers belonging to a wider discerning community.
The committee will identify parallels between congregational and wider church membership. For example, members of the same congregation may not agree on everything but can still be in communion with one another.
But even the word “membership” has baggage, said Lorin Bergen, pastor at Living Hope in Surrey, B.C., a congregation that is predominantly under age 50.
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