Written by Keith Regehr, Transition Coordinator


The Interim Council recently met at Toronto United Mennonite Church and approved an accelerated timeline for the transition of Mennonite churches in Canada.

Time is its own master. Only it knows when to shrink and when to stretch. Our nights and our days are governed by sunrise and sunset, by bursts of energy and bouts of exhaustion.

But our perceptions of time are real. When announced at Assembly 2016 that proposals for new structures would be brought to delegates no later than June, 2018, most ears understood that nothing would be presented sooner.

The Interim Council approved an accelerated timeline that would see the final approval take place at a Special Delegate Assembly in October 2017.

At their recent meetings at Toronto United Mennonite Church, the Interim Council (which is made up of the Moderators of the five Area Churches and the Moderator and Vice Moderator of MC Canada) approved an accelerated timeline that would see the final approval take place at a Special Delegate Assembly in October 2017. The accelerated timeline requires the approval of the boards of all the area churches and MC Canada. The General Board of MC Canada has now given its approval. The area church boards will address the timeline as they meet over the coming weeks.

In this discussion, the Interim Council used a metaphor drawn from the process of moving from the initial idea to the completion of a new home.

  1. The first step is the description to the architect of the concepts your new home is to incorporate. This was the FDTF Report and Addendum.
  2. Preparation of an artist’s rendering of the design. This allows you to see what the house will look like without the detail of where the wiring, plumbing pipes are located.
  3. Preparation of the working drawings used by the contractor for building the house.
  4. Construction, décor, and moving in.

The timeline looks like this:


  • Create and start the activities of the working groups to give shape to various aspects of the new structure.
  • Begin the development of the artist’s rendering of the new structure.

Winter/Spring 2017

  • Completion of the artist’s rendering followed by presentation to Area Church annual gatherings for comment and input.
  • Ongoing review and feedback by/from working groups
  • Begin development of the working drawings

Spring/Summer 2017

  • Revisions to the plan based on Area Church input
  • Finalization of the working drawings

October 2017

  • A special Assembly to approve the working drawings
  • Based on the approval, the implementation of the plans begins—the construction phase.

The timing of a transition process must balance a number of factors. On the one hand change produces anxiety among stakeholders, such as international ministry partners, Witness workers, and home office staff. Transition affects people’s jobs at multiple levels. Long change processes extend the anxiety over a longer period of time, as this leaves people with ongoing uncertainty about their future.

Long change processes also make funding more challenging. It is much easier to contribute to inspiration than to give to a transition process.

On the other hand, there is the desire to slow the process down. In part this helps to ensure careful decision making. In addition, this desire can flow from the fear of change and what that change will bring.

These multiple factors work against each other. In making the decision on timeline, the Interim Council sought to balance the need for good decision making and careful consultation with the desire to avoid drawn out uncertainty and the need to ensure funding through the transition period.