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Mennonite Brethren HeraldVolume 43, No. 08June 11, 2004
B.C. convention zeroes in on being “missional”
Pastors and spouses meet
Ontario hosts first symposium on Women in Ministry Leadership
Pastors gain insight into Conference
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B.C. convention zeroes in on being “missional”

Kelowna, B.C. • April 30–May 1

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A sense of hope pervaded the Willow Park Church, Kelowna, as delegates gathered April 30 to May 1 for the annual B.C. MB Conference convention. Staff from the B.C. Interior churches, identified by their classy black shirts, were the hosts. The theme of the convention was “The Missional Church . . . Ancient Truths. Future Dreams.”

Carlin Weinhauer prays for Sonny Mandagie and the "House for all Nations" church

Carlin Weinhauer prays for Sonny Mandagie and the “House for all Nations” church


Five churches were accepted into the BC Conference:

  • Kelowna Gospel Fellowship, formerly part of Mennonite Church Canada with pastor Larry Schram.
  • House of All Nations, an Indonesian church coming out of Willingdon Church, Burnaby, with pastor Sonny Mandagie.
  • Willow Park South, a satellite of Willow Park Church in Kelowna, with Mike Penninga as host pastor.
  • Silver Valley Community Church, starting in a new residential area on the North Shore as a satellite of Maple Ridge Community Church.
  • Coast Hills Community Church in Cloverdale, led by Wayne and Suzanne Driedger and parented by New Hope Church, Delta

There are other new church plants underway. Wayne and Shauna Halvorsen are preparing to start a church in Vernon, being parented by Armstrong Bible Chapel. The Vancouver Chinese Ministerial is guiding the Chinese ministry in Westwood MB Church, Prince George, and River of Life Community Church, Sorrento is the parent partner of Harbour Community Church in Parksville. Highland Community Church in Abbotsford is looking at a church plant in the Clayburn area. Herb Neufeld is working with donor development for church planting and Jake Balzer is the volunteer associate director of church planter development.

Geoff Neufeld, executive director of church extension, informed delegates that Vancouver is nominated to be Key City #4 at Gathering 2004 in Toronto.

The sad note was that the Persian Christian Church had closed.


Steve Berg

Steve Berg

The executive reported on their search for a new executive minister. Ike Bergen, the previous conference minister, retired in September 2004. In the meantime, a regionalized pastoral care and support program has been put into place. A group of pastors in various regions of the province are willing to be called upon when a church or pastor need help or advice.

It was also announced that the offices will move from Columbia Bible College to an office building on South Fraser Way, Abbotsford.

The other business item was the constitution. The major item here was the change in calling Conference a “Society.” The operating guidelines for the constitution will continue to be in flux. One suggested change from the delegates was a request that a Board of Faith and Life be formed.

The new executive is moderator Ron van Akker, assistant moderator Steve Berg, Arnie Peters and James Bergen.

Other ministries

Provincial ministries were discussed in two breakout sessions and briefly reported on during the afternoon session.

Camp ministries uses 4% of the annual budget. Each of the four camps is in expansion or growth mode, buying land, building roads and increasing their capacity for children. They reported on their last summer’s programs.

Aldon Loeppky and John Balzer were thanked for their many years of ministry on the Board of Church Extension.

The Board of Pastoral Ministries reported the number of people approved for ministry this past year (16).


Mark Burch

Mark Burch

Mark Burch, pastor of Willow Park Church, based the opening message “I will build My church,” which many described as a “prophetic” word, on Amos 7–8. He stated that the heart and soul of the church is mission. He asked, “Why has the church moved from the driver’s seat, to the back seat, to being a hitchhiker? Does the church have any impact on the community today?”

Most churches are plateaued, he said, and need to be rebooted to return to a conviction of the absolute necessity of recognizing that Jesus is the way of salvation. They need to again become “people of The Book.” In the postmodern era, tolerance is king and truth has been dethroned. Burch stated his burden was that “we have lost our faith in the sufficiency of the Word of God – that it is able to radically alter people’s lives.”

It is not the public that has the itchy ears, it’s the complacent Christians, he said. He continued, saying people come to the church expecting to hear the Word of God, that the Holy Book will be opened. Then the church will continue to be built.

Steve Berg, pastor of South Abbotsford MB Church, spoke Saturday morning on the “ancient truth” that “God loves the world.” Quoting numerous Scripture passages, he stated that God wants to walk with the people He loves (Genesis 3:8–9), wants to be with His people (Exodus 3:7–8), touched the world because He loves it (John 1:14). His people are to love the world as well and if this is true, Berg stated, then he had a dream of what the church should look like:

  • A church filled with people who will dismantle the walls of cultural Christianity
  • A church filled with people who do “service” and don’t demand “serve us”
  • A church filled with people who are committed to their neighbourhood as a parish
  • A church filled with people who live in community
  • A church filled with people who pray for the community
  • A church filled with people who are living a spiritual journey, continually being transformed.


The budget was the last item on the agenda. The 2005 budget is $1,291,000, which works out to $104 per member. Delegates were encouraged that this is not a realistic budget but a faith budget. Questions regarding the amount allotted to camp ministry were raised, and whether the devastation of the Avian flu would impact giving. In the end, the budget was passed.

Susan Brandt

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