Conference Ponders Impact of CBC, New Directions

Post a Comment » Written on March 9th, 2007     
Filed under: News
STRATHMORE, AB (March 9, 2007) – In 1954, Leonard Quarnstrom, who had served as acting president of Covenant Bible Institute, called the school “the very heart of our work in Canada.”

That thought has been echoed repeatedly over the years even as the school’s program transformed from a three-year to a one-year program, and its name changed to Covenant Bible College (CBC). Now, with the announcement that the school will close permanently on May 31 due to overwhelming financial pressures, a challenge is before the Canada Conference.

“One of the big identity questions we will be walking through as a Canadian Conference is who and what are we without CBC,” says Randall Friesen, who is on the CBC Canada Board and is pastor of Gateway Covenant Church in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The conference includes 23 churches stretched across Canada, and CBC served as one way of binding them, Friesen says. “It’s partly been the glue that connects us. Our kids grew up all across this huge country, and their friendships made at different CBC youth events served to connect them.”

The students would then attend the college together and become even deeper friends as they went through the discipleship program, he says. “Those connections would last a lifetime, so that even if their hometowns were 3,000 kilometers apart, they had that shared experience, which tied them together.”

Conference Supt. Jeff Anderson says CBC has been more a reflection of the heart of the conference. “Discipleship and leadership development of young adults is the historic heart of the Canada Covenant,” he explains. “If you look back at leadership choices, the last two presidents at CBC (Wendell Anderson and Neil Josephson) started when they were in their earlier years of ministry. We have involved 20-somethings in significant leadership positions for generations.”

That commitment already has led to the raising up of new ministries across the conference, he says. This passion for discipleship has resulted in new energy for church planting and compassion, mercy and justice issues,” he explains. Anderson adds that the conference will continue to have strong annual events for junior and senior high students as well as members who are of university age, and those older than 50.

Anderson says the question he already is being asked across the conference is, “What are we going to do to continue the ministry of discipleship? It really goes far beyond ‘how do we save CBC’ to the heart that CBC embodied.”

That response gives Anderson hope for the future. “God has given us some incredibly
gifted young leaders – many who are alumni of CBC by the way – and I am
convinced we have the folks who are able to listen to God, dream of a new
day, and implement that dream,” he observes.

Still, he adds, “I do admit to feeling like Coach Boone at the end of ‘Remember the Titans’ when his All-American linebacker was out after being paralyzed in a car crash. His response to a reporter’s question, ‘Is your team in trouble without your star player,’ was simply, “you can’t replace Gary . . .”

Friesen says that despite the closing of the school, he also believes good days are ahead for ministries in the conference. “This questioning and searching will create new opportunities for God to do new things among us,” he says.

Friesen adds, “In the meantime, for us personally, where do our kids go for a year of focused discipleship? How will they make those connections with other Covenant kids their age? How is God at work to raise up the next generation of Covenant leaders here in Canada? But maybe even those questions are for another day. Today it just hurts, and we grieve the loss.”

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