The polity (practise and rules of order) of the Baptist Union of Western Canada is that it is a voluntary association of churches (read denomination) and of begun in 1910 and incorporated in 1951. The Baptist Union Churches are congregational in governance neither Episcopal (with Bishops) nor Prebyterial (with a system of church committees) who oversee the life of our churches individually or together.
We have chosen a governance in our denomination that includes Areas and a Baptist Union Board both of which Sam Chaise (our Baptist Union President) will describe to you in the following newsletter.
Sam is the 74th President of the Baptist Union and its antecedents. He is a gifted leader, minister, administrator and friend. I have worked with Sam as a colleague at Kits church in Vancouver and enjoy him as “my boss” at the Union. When I conducted Sam and Cindie’s wedding I described Sam as a “poet and musician trapped in a logical mind”…at least some of us who know him will agree with that.
I have asked Sam to share several things with us today; governance, Union Board issues, CBM concerns and anything else that is on his heart. I thank God from the bottom of my heart for being able to work with Sam.
The BUWC Board: What We Do
The BUWC Board’s work is mostly behind-the-scenes, creating and sustaining the environment and structures that allow our Executive Minister and Executive Staff to lead with effectiveness. Romans 12:8 tells us that if our gift is leadership, we are to “govern diligently”. Webster’s Dictionary says that governing means “to direct the making and administration of policy”. Okay, so it’s not the most fun activity in the world(!), but someone’s got to do it!
In the BUWC (or any organization) there are four levels of activity:
1. governing: creating the structures, allocating the resources, setting overall direction
2. leading: painting a picture of the future and creating the changes that allow us to get there
3. managing: organizing resources into a system that achieve certain goals
4. doing: actually doing the ministry!
The BUWC Board attempts to do #1, so that our Executive Staff can do #2, so that piles of ministry gets managed and done at the local level.
Revamping Our Governance
Speaking of governance . . . there has been an ongoing conversation in the BUWC about how we better organize ourselves to maximize ministry and minimize bureaucracy. Our history and tradition means that we are a bottom-up sort of organization: a network of churches and agencies that choose to work together. At the same time, there is a growing desire for visionary leadership that builds identity and collects our energies and inspires us toward a better future. Balancing these two realities is a challenge, but critically important.
At Assembly 2005 the “Martin Report” (no, not Paul Martin, but Bruce) was presented, indicating that we still had further work to do in this area. We’ve been doing that.
One of the realities is that much of our collective ministry is being implemented by “Missional Networks”, such as Church Health and Planting, the Camping Committee, the Youth Leadership Team, and so forth. And so right now the BUWC Board is in conversation with the Areas, to clarify what their role is in comparison to the Missional Networks.
We are also working to streamline the Board so we can meet more often and govern more effectively. My hope is that we will be able to present a governance proposal to our Assembly in 2007.
Our Relationship with Canadian Baptist Ministries
For the past two years we have been in conversation with our sister Conventions/Unions (the Baptist Convention of Ontario & Quebec, the Union d’Eglises Baptistes Francaises, the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches) and with Canadian Baptist Ministries, to develop a Covenant Partnership Agreement. We have a long history with our sister churches in these organizations, and we want to strengthen our relationship with them by clarifying how we do mission together, in Canada and around the world.
A generation ago it was fairly straightforward: Canada was relatively Christian and “missions” was something that happened outside of Canada. Now, the world has moved to Canada and Canada is a mission field. Also, mission today is more holistic, integrating word and deed. In this new world we need to re-define how we work together and what we do together.
These conversations have been exciting and have generated new interest in our national identity as Canadian Baptists. Stay tuned for further details . . . more is coming!
So there you have it. What a wide, varied and interesting world and work we live in.
Thanks be to God.