Council Updates

Congregations Meeting Follow-Up (Summer 2022)

The following feedback was given by our congregations on June 5, 2022. Council has pulled out some common themes and responded to each theme. Thank you for your engagement and please continue to ask questions and share your thoughts. We heard many messages of support, encouragement, and prayer for Council in this season and we are grateful.

General Feedback Statements

  • Prayer Triads were very encouraging; we need to continue to be in prayer for our church at this time
  • We are in a season of transition and need to allow God to lead
  • Appreciate the linear prayerful manner of transition process but there doesn’t appear to be a sense of urgency
  • Feeling that the younger generation does not have much of a voice, would like opportunities for conversations around big issues that impact the church and ministry areas. Comment of affirmation and excitement about the youth program and how it is teaching kids to serve and use their gifts.
  • God is with us in hard times, this is his church. We have a very engaged congregation who is willing to serve and listen to God.
  • Excited about the interpreter for deaf community – adds to worship and opportunities to share faith with others.
  • Our church is willing to spend money on technology and live streaming but not on people outside of our building who need love and the gospel message. For example, our Indigenous community.

Questions for Council with Responses

1) Can Council restate priorities headed into summer and fall?

Top 2 priorities:

  1. Transitional Lead Pastor work
  2. Restructure our organization (including a budget for 2022-2023).

Next 2 priorities: Indigenous Engagement and multisite direction.

2) What are some of the issues we have, these have not been stated to the congregations and many of us are unsure of the issues?

We are a church that has influence locally, nationally, and globally. Our mission is to be a covenant community that loves God, disciples one another, and reaches out from the river to the ends of the earth. Our purpose is transformation in Jesus Christ. In the past 3 years, we have lost some sense of community and we have said goodbye to some staff that were champions of our mission and purpose. Council would admit that our mission has not been owned enough by our church members and this has led to confusion and tension. The church has become unclear about the purpose and mission of multisite. We have struggled to process the TRC proposal, as there was not enough conversation prior to the proposal being presented. This has led to distrust and feelings that our church has drifted from our mission, both away from loving people and away from the gospel message.

Council sees a need for more congregational ownership and engagement in re-establishing our mission, vision, and values. Our staff have felt tension around how to implement a very wide purpose of transformation in Jesus Christ, this impacts our different sites and ministry areas. In addition, the lack of trust and vision clarity has resulted in some questions around our Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith, and if we are in alignment with the Saskatchewan MB Conference (SKMB) direction.

The SKMB conference has asked all member churches to reaffirm their commitment to the conference. Together, staff and Council will be working on the reaffirmation process this summer by setting up individual meetings. We are an MB church and we will align with the leading and direction of the SKMB Conference and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

In addition to these tensions, we are at a place where we have a significant income shortage and we need to make some structural changes. We will be reducing staff and looking at how to right- size our organization to adjust to our reduced income, attendance, and strategic plan.

3) How will the “recommitment to MB confession of faith” process happen? Will each leader/staff/pastor have conversations centered on the confession and profess agreement to it?

Council is establishing a working group that will spend time in July on the Common Understandings and Collaboration Covenant document (CUCC). In addition, all staff will meet with Council one-on-one this summer to discuss theology alignment. We will use the SKMB resources to inform these conversations. (CUCC Guide 2.0) (Affirming the Confession of Faith)

4) Being an MB church also means that we are evangelical and that we are a voice for the marginalized. How can we also live this out?

We feel that we have lost trust and the ability and willingness to have safe conversations in this season. It is our desire to begin to have conversations around topics and issues that impact ministry areas and marginalized groups of people so that we can better understand and love others. This needs to be done within the context of a unified commitment to our MB family.

5) Can Council share what is being done to ensure staff accountability?

It is important for our church body to recognize that staff are members of our church and love this church, they also are leaders and so they hold an authority that needs to have a higher level of accountability. In this season of restructuring and realignment, staff have been asked to submit to the transition process and to the direction of the SKMB alignment. As staff and Council, we will be working through this alignment and looking at how we can reorganize. In this transition process, we will be clarifying our mission, vision, and values and this will also help give direction to staff and our church about future direction.

6) North Site vision is unclear, the impression of some of our Attridge members is that the initial mandate has not been achieved and this site is costing us money. What is being done to address this?

Our multisite strategy has allowed us as a church to uniquely reach people in Saskatoon that wouldn’t attend our Attridge site. This has been a local mission strategy and has given FGCC an opportunity to be a sending church within our own city.

The North Site, which was started about 5 years ago with the leading of Dale Dirksen, was given two specific mandates: First, North Site shouldn’t be like Attridge or Broadway. If people wanted to attend those congregations, they already exist and are doing great work for God in the city. We don’t need to replicate what they are doing, instead we should find a new way of being the church in Saskatoon. Secondly, North Site should focus on “slow fruit.” The goal was specifically not to fill the seats and recreate a traditional Sunday morning gathering. Rather, we would slowly work our way into our neighbourhoods, and workplaces, encouraging one another and allowing our relational networks to bring people into this church community.

There are some greater multisite questions that need to be answered in the coming months. The structure, autonomy, connections all need to be sorted out. In this season of reorganization, the transition process will also lead us as a church to look at how to clarify vision, mission, values, theology of multisite. We also recognize that we need the Attridge congregation to understand and support the multisite strategy if we want to continue to have this as a local mission strategy. In our current structure, our two sites are not able to generate enough income to support their expenses, however, this was never a stated mandate of the sites. The multisite strategy was designed as a missional strategy and that Attridge would be a sending church to these sites. With that being said, the financial situation that we are currently facing is forcing us to ask the question: Can our Attridge site continue to finance the two other sites?

6) Can you explain the Greenspace report? What is happening with the empty lot?

The company that owns the land (Span West) was planning to build an 11-story condo development on that land. However, in the past 2 years they were not able to sell enough units to support their financing and so had to pull back their plan for that development. There is a Restrictive Covenant on the land that only allows for a multifamily development to be built on that land. Span West has asked that we consider amending the Restrictive Covenant (RC) on that parcel of land to also include the same RC that exists on the Horizon College land. That RC allows for commercial development with the condition that the tenants of the development only occupy the space in alignment with the principles and values of FGCC.

We will have more information to bring to you soon, however, the Greenspace task force and our church lawyer, Ron Miller, from Mcdougall Gauley are working with Council to bring an amended RC to the congregations for approval.

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