Knowing Ourselves, Maintaining Hope, and Collaborating: Report on Presidents Day 2017

10 November 2017

Every year the EFC board gathers the leaders of EFC affiliate organizations for “Presidents Day.”  Whether they are officially titled president, CEO or something else, we consider the leaders of the denominations, educational institutions and ministry organizations affiliated with the EFC to be the “moral owners” of the EFC – the ones EFC staff directly represent as we engage in various activities in society and among the Church at large.

Presidents Day is an opportunity for EFC staff to update the presidents on our activities over the previous 12 months. This year we put together an 8-minute video report that helped us tell our ministry story with pictures as well as words. You can watch it here.

Presidents Day is primarily, however, a time for strengthening the interface between what the presidents do and what we do. To this end, we’re grateful for the depth and breadth of conversation that took place when we gathered in Montreal, October 26-27, around the outcomes of the six Canadian Evangelicals Forum events that we held across Canada over the past 18 months. We summarized those outcomes into three theme-categories, and then asked questions of the presidents in relation to them, as follows:

  • Knowing Ourselves – Understanding ourselves in relation to God, one another and the world around us is critical.
    • Who are we in relation to God and one another?
    • Where are we?
    • What’s happening?
  • Maintaining Hope – Our views of the future need to be grounded in our confidence that God is at work in the world and that the Spirit of God is present with us always.
    • What gives us hope as we step into our ministry callings daily?
    • What spiritual postures and resources will we adopt to help keep us from doubting that the Church in Canada will come through as it has in all times and all places?
  • Collaborating – Evangelicals are increasingly eager to work together in their shared mission to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bear in all areas of life and society.
    • Where do we see potential for increasing levels of collaboration?
    • How can the EFC help to encourage such collaboration?

The Presidents Day conversations will be especially helpful as we discuss how we will carry the Forum outcomes – especially those focused on collaboration – into the 12 months between Presidents Day 2017 and that of 2018.

We also spent some time exploring the potential for Roman Catholic-Evangelical relations when hosting a panel discussion featuring Dr. Glenn Smith (Christian Direction) and Bishop Tom Dowd (Diocese of Montreal). Rev. David Freeman, co-chair of the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue sponsored by the EFC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, illustrated this potential further when reporting on the Dialogue the following morning. Gaining input and wisdom from the presidents on this theme will help us navigate the complexities of this unique inter-church relationship over the year to come.

We like to think, however, that Presidents Days are not just about interaction between the affiliate leaders and EFC board- and staff-members. If the difficulty in getting the presidents back into the main room after coffee and lunch breaks is any indication, the personal interactions between ministry peers are just as important as the efforts to connect our work with the work of the presidents.

Our reflections after each instance of Presidents Day remind us of the importance of these annual gatherings for many engaged in the Evangelical Church across Canada. Knowing each Presidents Day is unique, we look forward to building on what worked well and improving what didn’t in order to plan for 2018. Direct input from participants in 2017 is welcome!

Author: Aileen Van Ginkel