#20 – Faith Shaped through Community ft. Ingrid Reichard

 In

National Faith & Life Board – Getting to know our NFLB Director.

There is just a real care in the M.B world to make our relationships work and to keep our accounts clean with one another. – Ingrid Reichard

 

I mean, we don’t hold a Confession up on par with the scripture, but it is an expression of how we collectively understand the scripture and how we collectively agree to live it out. – Ingrid Reichard

Topics include

  • Role of the National Director of Faith and Life
  • Ingrid’s heart for the churches and pastors
  • COF, Article 8
  • Believers’ baptism
  • Challenges facing the church in Canada today

 

Show Notes

#20 – Faith Shaped through Community ft. Ingrid Reichard
BCMB Pastor to Pastor Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 46:58
 
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Transcription

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Ingrid Reichard:
One of the lines, one of the phrases, my job description is to effectively promote the M.B heritage theology, convictions and values. We have a priority called Spiritual Health and Theology for our churches. We don't hold the confession up on par with the scripture, but it is an expression of how we collectively understand the scripture and how we collectively agree to live it out. So it's kind of our our playbook. It's our rulebook in a positive sense that it defines, you know, how we play the game. And then it also defines when you're out of bounds.

Welcome to the BCMB podcast, Pastor to Pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry. This is Episode 20, Faith Shaped through Community with Ingrid Reichard.

Rob Thiessen:
Hey everyone, this is Rob Thiessen with the BCMB pastor to podcast. I want to welcome you today and thank you for joining us. I'm very glad, we've got an out of town guest this morning. Ingrid Reichard is with us and she comes to us from Ontario. And her role with our Conference, I'm going to let her introduce herself and just tell us a little bit about what she's doing at this point in her life. We're really grateful for you joining us today, Ingrid.

Ingrid Reichard:
Well, thank you, Rob. And hello to everyone who is listening. I am a subscriber to your podcast, and I really enjoy it. It's an encouragement to me personally. I live in Ontario Waterloo. And to my role with the Canadian Conference of M.B Churches is the National Faith and Life director, and the short form of that is NFL director. So sometimes I get a call the commissioner, which is fun. And yeah, I'm really, really blessed to serve in this role for the sake of all our churches.

Rob Thiessen:
That's interesting. I think it was this morning in the news online, I saw that a woman had broken a coaching barrier for the NFL. There was a woman that's on the, I don't know if it's at the Super Bowl or whatever. And she's part of the coaching staff. But, you know, in some ways, yeah. You're with a different NFL. Our national faith and life team. So it's really a delight to have you with us.

Rob Thiessen:
And Ingrid, you have you know, you've had extensive life experience in different roles and capacities. You've had some corporate experience. You also have. You know, a doctor of ministry to degree in in spiritual formation and, you know, you've really applied yourself since coming to Christ and I know I've heard your story a little bit, but why don't you share with our listeners just a little bit of your journey, your faith journey and some of these other important influences in your life, how God has shaped you through through your through your life journey, through your work and through your study?

Ingrid Reichard:
Sure. I grew up in communist Czechoslovakia, actually, so very dark's spiritually. I didn't know anyone who went to church or who was a believer, but I had an aunt who had a strong influence and a hand in raising me. I sort of had three mothers. My biological mother, her sister, my aunt and my grandmother, because I spent a lot of time growing up in their homes as well. And my aunt was a sort of a quasi religious woman. She prayed as she taught me the Lord's Prayer. And we would just sit. We would kneel beside the bed together every night when I was like three or four years old. And she taught me to pray the Lord's Prayer.

Rob Thiessen:
That's a that's a bold thing to do. Very risky. From my parents stories about growing up in a communist country like that was subversive and countercultural to do that. Very.

Ingrid Reichard:
Not only did she do that when I was five years old, my brother was born and she believed that if we were not baptized, we would go to hell. So she had us both secretly baptized without our parents knowledge. And I remember that I was five years old and I actually helped the priest baptize my little brother. And I said the baptismal vows at the time for myself. So, yeah. I guess, yeah, this was more important to her.

Rob Thiessen:
Was that a believer's baptism?

Ingrid Reichard:
I think we will get to that part of the conversation. Yes.

Ingrid Reichard:
So, because of my aunt, my image of God was always positive. I associated faith with love and care, and someone that was good. So I never grew up with negative images of God, although I never gave a God much thought. And it really wasn't up, I'm skipping way, way, way forward. We were refugees. We went through Austria as refugees out of the communist bloc. And there I read through the entire Bible in German and in Slovak, which is my native language. And I conclude, because it was very boring to be a refugee. There's nothing to do. There are no books to read. And so I was given the two Bibles. And at that time, I concluded that the Bible was like the most bizarre book ever written. I thought that if I were God, I would have wiped out those Israelites like, you know, you have three strikes and you're out. And he just kept being patient. And I just did not get that. And then when he came to the New Testament and Christ and the call that I read on what it means to follow Jesus and to live the way he calls us to live. I concluded that, that was impossible. I thought nobody can actually live it this way. Like I took the commands to love your enemy, to pray for your enemy, to forgive. Those are for you to give very literally at the time. And I assess them. And I said, this is not possible. And so I closed the Bible and I said I dismissed it as a bizarre book. And I just kind of went on with my life. And it was much later when I was in my late 20s that God very dramatically called me and a Jamaican woman who worked in my department. I was her boss. She started praying for me as soon as I became her boss. And eventually she led me to Christ.

Rob Thiessen:
Oh, yes. Amazing. So just when you were reading the Bible that way, the way you describe it, it sounds like you like you took this scripture seriously. You weren't questioning whether it was a myth or a fairy tale. You were just sort of on face value, looking at it and going, you know, all these people were bad. God should have done this. Then you got to Jesus and thought, well, you know. So what were you thinking about his. Was it the, was it doubts about the authenticity of scripture? Or just like you were incredulous about the claims of scripture. What was it?

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah. I believed. I didn't think the stories were made up. I took them as fact. I just, Yeah. I even believe the resurrection. I just felt that the life that someone who is called to lead as they believe in Christ, to me, was not so much believe, but give your life over and then you have to live this way. I didn't understand the concept of grace and the help of the Holy Spirit that is available to believers. So the way I understood it is you give your life over to Christ and then you have to live this way. And I concluded well, I certainly didn't think I could. And I doubted really that anyone else could. So I thought the call was impossible to respond to.

Rob Thiessen:
So when you met someone later in life, you know this person that was praying for you? What was it about that stage and and meeting that person that overcame some of those, you know, your initial impressions about what it meant to be a Christian and how difficult it would be?

Ingrid Reichard:
Well, I would have to say it was just a much more powerful work of the Holy Spirit in my life. And the circumstances were different. The first time I was 15 years old here, it was 15, almost not quite 15 years. I was in my late 20s and I had almost died. Actually, they told my husband I wasn't going to make it from this accident. And I woke up. I had lost a lot of blood and I went to work anyway. I had myself discharged from the hospital because I had to make it to this meeting at work. I was very achievement and career oriented. And I walked into a meeting barely, you know, dragging myself. And it was the same meeting I always went to. And the thought occurred to me like I could have been dead, and this meeting would have happened, and I just would have been another item on the agenda. Who is going to take over Ingrid's departments and who is going to clear out her office? And that would've been the end of end of me. And then thought came to my mind. And the thought was my life has no meaning apart from God. Now, that came like way out of the blue. And it was definitely from the Holy Spirit, in hindsight. And I walked out of the meeting determined that I need to find God in order to find meaning for my life. And so my heart was then open. So when my and at the same time, my co-worker started to feel very strong conviction from God to share the gospel with me. And she was very afraid because how do you go up to your boss and tell them that they need Jesus in their life. But she concluded she was more afraid of God and she was afraid of me.

Ingrid Reichard:
And she did. She just in a very kind of stumbly kind of way, thought that maybe I.

Ingrid Reichard:
She thought I needed God, it was a very un-eloquent presentation of the gospel. And I said, yes. But what she did is she invited me to her home where there was a small group. She was Jamaican. They were all from Jamaica. And they asked me why it was there. And I said, I'm looking for God. And they said, well, like, what do you think about God? And I said well I don't really know what I think about God. The only thing I know is I don't think he's some guy sitting on a throne in heaven. So they gave me a Bible and said, well, open it to Isaiah six. Well, it took me forever to find Isaiah six. But then I did and they said, read it. And I read in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord mighty and exalted on the throne, and the robe is filling the temple, and then the Seraphim, and and as I'm reading, tears are just streaming down my face. And I looked up and I said I was convinced that it was absolutely true. Like it was. And I looked up and I said, I guess he is sitting on a throne in heaven. And so then they said, well, open your Bible to Genesis one. They made me read creation Genesis three. They made me read the fall. The promises of Messiah, the call of God. Then they took me to the New Testament and Jesus and the sacrifice and the promises of new life. And this took maybe an hour and a half. It was all from scripture through Romans, the Roman road, which I had no idea what it was, but I went through all of that. And at the end, I believed. I believed. And the question and what I said is, I believe, where do I sign up? And they didn't lead me in a prayer. They just asked me to kneel. They lay their hands on me. They prayed for me. And I stood up and I was saved like a ton of bricks. And I have never looked back. I have never hesitated. I've never lapsed. I've never sort of had a time when God was not important in my life.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. So your confession in that situation was your words, I believe. Yeah. Yeah. That's an amazing journey. And I think, Ingrid, it's indicative of the work of God through his through the scripture.

Rob Thiessen:
That that the Holy Spirit brings convictions through the word of God. And it just reminds me of, you know, a theological issue that you know, I'm engaging in as I read, sometimes current authors, maybe, you know, a progressive view of theology or people are kind of saying, well, you know, the Bible is a book, more suggesting, you know, the direction we should go giving examples of other people and journeys. It's up to us to find our way. But you're bearing witness to a different function of the word of God like it. We actually encounter God in the words of scripture. It is not like other stories or other books, and it has an authority. And it's interesting. I heard another testimony of somebody with a similar story to you where they just bumped into someone. They started sharing their faith was a faith journey, very, you know,not eloquent. This was a homeless guy that told another gentleman to open a Bible that he happened to be carrying, which he never did, to a Psalm. And the guy read the Psalm Same thing that you did as you read the words he knew in his heart. Every word I'm reading is true. And, and that only comes you know, that's only the spirit of God and grace of God. Amazing. Yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
So to tell us, obviously that's massive in your life, but you, you know, gave indication of a work career at that time. That's been a big part too of your life, your, your employment journey. So what are what are some of the highlights of that journey and how is that prepared you for the work that you're doing now?

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah, well, I believe that God doesn't waste any aspects of our life and that all of what we experience and who we are, we bring to, you know, the current moment and every experience is valuable. So, yeah. So corporate life is very, very important to me. My identity at that time was entirely based on my job title, and I had three different job titles at any one time, three business cards. So depending on who I wanted you to think I was, I would give you the appropriate business card. But there was a lot of good that was instilled in me, a lot of positive deposits. One was just practical skills on how to get things done, on how to run a meeting, how to set an agenda, how to follow through on tasks, and how to organize people and responsibilities and so on. So that's very practical not often taught in seminaries, but critical in church life. In church leadership.

Rob Thiessen:
Oh, so critical and Inrid, if I can just interrupt you for a sec. Like since you came on the National Faith and Life team at our board meetings when you started chairing those meetings, we immediately felt the benefit of your skills and knowledge set. And our meetings began. They got more aligned, more focused. We didn't do what pastors too often do. I mean, we still tend to do we can spin the wheels and talk endlessly. But you brought us back to focus and purpose. So, yeah, I bet just God has used those gifts in your life. And and we're grateful. We're blessed as a community that you have them good.

Ingrid Reichard:
Yes,that's good? Yeah. And the other aspect there then is excellence. You know, to really deliver the best that you can. That was one of my pet peeves. You know, as going to church, that was in the 80s, it was typewriter times and just seeing the typos in the bulletins and ya know, those kinds of errors, it would just really bug me. I believe that actually, the church should lead the world in excellence, in excellence of art, as it has for, for ages, in music, in thought, in poetry, in systems. You know, the way we, we interact with the world. I mean, we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the creator of the universe with us. So I don't think we should be delivering anything that's shoddy. So this kind of excellence idea has been built in and also no waste. You know, I don't like to waste people's time in the business world. You you can't afford to have waste. Margins are important. So wasting people's time and resources and doing and redoing and undoing. So if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time. And figure out a way to do that. So that's some of what I think I bring from that time in my life.

Rob Thiessen:
Wow, that's good. Course not all businesses run on the principles you're describing. And I think sometimes in the church, we just you know, we think all the business world is this. And that is honestly, sometimes when I watch what businesses are doing, I thought, oh, yikes. People are people wherever they are. And that's a wonderful things to bring. So the role of National Faith and Life Director, this is a new role, and so talk to us a little bit about what the National Faith and Life director does. And what do you see as the why this role is important to the churches?

Ingrid Reichard:
Yes. So one of the lines, one of the phrases, my job description is to effectively promote the M.B heritage, theology, convictions and values. And in this new collaborative structure that we are living into, we have a priority called spiritual health and theology for our churches. So, so that's really my focus. It's a living into those spaces. What I do day to day is, is I make a ton of calls and I send a ton of emails and am in meetings. But there's a lot of listening and discerning on what is the right thing to do and what is the right way to go in in this season.

Rob Thiessen:
So the National Faith and Life team, a lot of the work is around, you know, there's been work happening on the Confession of Faith. And we'll get to that in a minute too, we want to ask you about that. But when you think about the role of the Confession of Faith and the National Faith and Life Team, what is the National Faith and Life Team? What's their responsibility? Vis a vis the Confession of Faith. And what role do you see the Confession of Faith playing in community. And why is it important?

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah. So the National Faith and Life team is the keeper of the confession. So that's the team, of course, with input of others and with the approval of our churches. But this is really the body that is tasked with the upkeep, the promoting, the accountability to the Confession of Faith. I think the Confession is really important because we live especially in the M.B family. That's, that's who we're talking to. That's our primary audience here. We are moving, I think, out of the era where everyone grew up in an MB church and everyone knew instinctively, intuitively what being M.B looks like. We're not in that space really anymore. Some of our churches may be. But as a whole, we have so many influences on us, and we have so much experience that has been brought in, which is very good. It's life giving as well. And it informs us and it stretches us. But it's easy to begin to not know who we are. And, you know, even individuals speaking, if you don't know who you are, if I don't know who I am and what are my strengths and weaknesses, well, how am I gifted? How am I wired to best contribute to the work of God in the world? Then I won't know what to say yes to what to say no to and so on. And I feel that the same thing with a denomination, with a family of churches, that we need to know who we are and be clear on our identity, be clear on our strengths, our unique contribution, the heritage that has shaped us. The other influences that have shaped us so that we can really offer our best to the wider Christian community, to the other denominations, to the world. And the confession is kind of at the center of who we are, theologically speaking.

Rob Thiessen:
I think it's interesting that you have, you know, in your job description, something about heritage. And here you are, a person that really doesn't have the ethnic heritage. So what, what led you to, to this Mennonite Brethren community? And I think this is good not only for our Mennonite Brethren listeners, but, you know, for every one of us who finds ourselves in a community, any listener that's a part of, you know, what other, whatever denomination or context they are, they have a community that formed them. And and I think other groups also are thinking about, you know, what is important about what I've been what I've received and how do I communicate that and how does that fit in to my wider identity as a follower of Christ with other followers of Christ of various denominations. So tell us a little bit about that. Not being a person who, you know, like you said with your story, you didn't grow up in a church context. You certainly weren't in a Mennonite Brethren church. What is your journey into this family and what aspects of the heritage have particularly captured you that you find? It's easy for you to get excited about, to communicate.

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah, yeah, so very early on in my Christian faith, I joined a bible teaching ministry. I eventually became a teacher and served in that ministry. I was an executive director, was a full time vocational bible teacher for lay people. And it was started by Mennonite Brethren people and our board was entirely Mennonite Brethren and we were out of Kitchener MB Church in Kitchener. So, and I taught in all the M.B churches in KW. So I was familiar with the spaces and had connections in those places, even though I worshipped at the time in a non MB Church. It was my first call to being a pastor that came from an MB church. I was in a seminary that didn't affirm women to a pastoral role. I was studying simply to be a good Bible teacher. That was my desire and I was asked to fill the pulpit in a church. I didn't know it was an MB church. It was a small plant. It didn't have the MB name in its title. And I just thought someone was on a sabbatical and they needed the pulpit filled. So I preached there and they asked me to candidate. And I thought, oh, I don't, I don't think so. And I talked to all my profs and they 100 percent affirmed to me for the role. And that's that was my entry sort of officially into the MB world. And I had to read all the documents, the Confession. I knew the people. I already knew that there was a kind of an ethos, the MB ethos, that maybe you don't know if you're in it, but it's observable from the outside, which is this value of community.

Ingrid Reichard:
There is just a real care in the MB world to make our relationships work and to keep our accounts clean with one another. So this whole idea of reconciling, of a going back, of doing the hard work, of maintaining good relationships for the sake of a healthy community. That was obvious to me already. And just beautiful, and powerful too. Yeah. That, that God's community of God's covenant people is real and vibrant and living. And we all contribute to that. Then reading the theological statements, just the humble way of stating our convictions. First of all, I love the idea that this is not doctrine, but it's a conviction. This is what we are convicted in our souls that we believe and therefore we live by it. And I also know a lot of the the convictions are similar to other evangelical streams. But the peace position is not. So the idea of living a nonviolent life. And I have spent a lot of time thinking about that to say, okay, this is not really about when someone breaks into my house with a gun and says, where are your kids? Do I cooperate or do I clobber him or what, right? I think it's far more in the everyday life we can deal with people in a violent way or a nonviolent way. So the way we talk to people. Yeah, the the way we deal with cashiers and other people, we can be violent or nonviolent. And I think there's immense power and call to be strong like Christ was, but nonviolent. Like Christ was.

Rob Thiessen:
Seek the way of peace. Yeah. Conversations, you know. Well, that's great Ingrid And that is. Those are aspects of, of the heritage that, you know, they're not focused on ethnicity. They're not focused on particular cultural things. All those things are interesting, but everybody's got a different cultural journey. And but they're particular things of our faith journey that have come down from those who walk before us faithfully. That we we want to pass along and live. That's good. And I would say that's my experience, too. I mean, I when it's kind of humorous to think about that, that the Anabaptists, a Mennonite Brethren community, are so committed to, like you said, to relationship, relational health. And yet, if you look at our trajectory, you know, the number of splinter and offshoot groups, somehow there's a there's a dissonance between how we behave and what our goal is. But that being said, I think it remains something true that and I think it has to do with the way of peace that we recognize that it is not okay for us just to right brothers and sisters off and say, well, good riddance to you. And, and so maybe sometimes to a fault, we're trying to, you know, remain as community and remain in relationship to one another. Sometimes we can't. But that that's really helpful.

Ingrid Reichard:
Well, and to quote you, one time you said it's, it's not OK to believe the right thing and be a jerk.

Rob Thiessen:
Yes. So, yes, I hope I live by that. Oh, that.

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah. There are maybe streams of evangelical life where as long as you believe the right thing, you don't need to be a Christ like person. And I think we would say that is not true.We don't believe that.

Rob Thiessen:
Totally. Yeah. We could go down different rabbit trails there. But I think that is something that is a part of our heritage and identity that before Anabaptists, what you say you believe like they like the book of James. Fine. You have a doctrine. Show me how you live. So, you know, whereas other streams thought James was, you know, a spurious letter. Right strawy epistle as Luther said, you know, Anabaptist went, no, no, no, no. This he's onto something here. If you're not living it, it really isn't worth a whole lot. And and I think that resonates with with our community still. And not to say that we live up to that, but Ingrid, for listeners, and then the role of the Confession. Let's little talk about a little bit about how the Confession of Faith might function. How have you seen it function productively in a church? What do you think its role is in the practical teaching and life of the pastor in the community? You know, what would you advocate for our listeners to say, hey, this is why, you know, you're whatever your faith tradition is, this is why being in touch with your doctrinal confession is important.

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah. So I would say to the pastors here that they have been called to a particular kind of family, faith family, and it would behoove us all to be clear on what kind of faith family has God called us to. So for whatever reasons, even especially those who come from out of the MB roots, or not, to say, okay, well, God has placed me in this kind of a family. I should really understand this family because there are strengths that I need to draw on. There is beauty that I need to pursue and uphold and nurture. And then there's some, you know, maybe weaknesses that need to be aware of and contribute to strengthening collectively. So simply like, know where you're operating. Know. That's, you know, that's important. In, in the life of a church. It's you know, some of our churches are maybe not overtly MB, but I think it's enriching to realize, hey, I'm part of something that is much bigger than just our church, that we're part of a provincial family, national family, international family. And we have roots that we can actually be proud of, heritage. And we didn't even talk about the discipleship strength that is in that Anabaptist and Anabaptist stream. So just to enrich our people and our churches to say, hey, there's more than even just our church, as good as it is. And then to realize that as God puts us into this community of Mennonite Brethren, that we are also responsible back to that community to contribute, to strengthen and to build up that community. And the Confession is that that kind of, that centerpiece, you know, that you put on the table as you come together, that's what we gather around. Right.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Oh, that's so good. You know, I've had lots of conversations with many leaders. And like you said, we're long past the day where everyone has a consensus about what it means to be in this family. We have diverse backgrounds and we're richer for it. I mean, that's been true of even the formation of this denomination. That was outside influences from Baptists and Lutheran pietists who came and preached that got Mennonite Brethren saved back in back in the old country and their experience. But at the same time, you know, nowadays the confession is so important because I find people will you know, they hear this about Mennonites or they have that experience with a Mennonite organization or that seemed negative, and surely you can point out a lot of flaws. And but they miss just drilling down to what's at the heart. And that is our confessional our Confession of Faith and how that challenges us. And and there's so much that's worthwhile there in our heritage for us to focus on. Yeah. So I, I resonate with that. It's also for churches. Now you and I are both involved now in, in sort of conference or denominational work. So we end up being, you know, invited to churches that are maybe drifting or on the margins or wrestling with something, going through some kind of a crisis, be it theological or pastoral leadership. And, you know, in my experience, quite often I'm surprised by, you know, it's like they like oftentimes it's like churches and pastors don't have an awareness. They're a part of a community. They function like maybe it's just because of our current, you know, what the values are. Be authentic. Be true to yourself as long as I'm being vulnerable and authentic and honest, that's all I need. I measure myself without any reference to, to tradition, to institutions because we are averse to those things we are suspicious of them. You know, why is it important for people to remember? What are some of the dangers of just figuring everything out on your own, you know, rewriting the book all the time in your experience with churches without naming any, you know, to be like that, to be independent.

Ingrid Reichard:
That's actually orphan mentality. And whether it comes from a place of, you know, I know better or of whatever, it's a weakness. It's a weakness to not be connected to the community. And it's a weakness to not be willing to have yourself checked by the community because it's humbling to sort of have the community dictate some, some things that you do as a leader of your church and you are lead pastor. I was the lead pastor and we have ideas and we, we know what we need to do and we have our our mission here.

Ingrid Reichard:
But to be in community with something bigger with the denomination and to say, okay, I'm going to do it this way, I'm going to do it the way the community is doing it for the sake of submission and for the sake of belonging. And of course, we can all speak into and say, hey, there's a better way, but then let's do it together as a community, figure out if it really is a better way and that than do it together. So I would, I would invite pastors who, who don't think the Confession is important to rethink because they have, they've come into a family to which it matters. It's not perfect. I mean, we don't hold a Confession up on par with the scripture, but it is an expression of how we collectively understand the scripture and how we collectively agree to live it out. So it's kind of our our playbook. It's our rule book in a positive sense that it defines, you know, how we play the game. And then it also defines when you're out of bounds, you know, like if you don't have those things defined, then you just have chaos. So and at some point, you know, even in family, you just know how you do things in your family right there. There's things that are done and there are things that are not done. And if a new family member comes in, they usually, you know, try very hard to figure out this family. You know, how do I belong? How do I go along with the traditions and, and beliefs that maybe contribute something new in a positive way. Whereas if someone came in and they didn't participate while they're choosing not to be part of the family. And that just, that impoverishes the person and it also impoverishes the family.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's really helpful. And a good reminder. And then, of course, we're also, you know, a part of a wider evangelical community too. And that's valuable as well. And I know just the last little while in all my years a pastor, I never really paid much attention to say what was going on with the Lausanne conferences and the Lausanne statements and stuff. But as I looked at those first two subclasses that I was taking, realizing, this is amazing. You know, this is the wider body of Christ, the evangelical, the global evangelical community, people from all different heritages and backgrounds. They're coming together to affirm like an astonishingly comprehensive understanding of the gospel and its implications that our world that we all resonate with. And Anabaptists and Mennonites and Baptists and Presbyterians and, you know, all stripes. And we're affirming a core gospel. I think that's very, very important, especially because we are in a such a splintered time. So many voices saying, oh, you know, oh, you Christians are just you, everybody disagrees. Who can, who can trust the Bible anyway? You know, it's not that kind of a book. It really doesn't have any guidelines here. It's just full of controversy and disagreement. And I think we'll no, I mean, surely we do disagree about things, but it's really shocking as to how much unity we have and experience with with the global body of Christ. So, yeah, this theological work is so important. We have been working the last little while on one article as a community. That's the article on baptism and membership. You know, as you know, you spent this last year and a half, two years sort of investing in and trying to coach us, to engage, you know, what have you learned about that experience, about how we do this? What has been your experience of around the rewording of our statement on baptism? How is that been helpful, do you think?

Ingrid Reichard:
Yeah. So it's been a great experience. My motto is in life generally, I've never done that before, but how hard can it be? And this is one of those things that I've never led the the revision, there's no YouTube to go to. You can't YouTube it. So it was a necessary step, but we took it very, very carefully. That's why it's taking so long, is because this was one area where you don't want to rush and miss things. But we wanted to be as collaborative as, as possible, inviting as many voices and giving many feedback opportunities. And that has proven to be actually very, very helpful. So the confession was last updated, 1989. So that's going to be now 21 years and times have changed so much. Right, that the concerns that the church was facing 21 years ago are different today. And our language has changed. And just the way we express our faith has changed and not, not what we believe, but maybe how we talk about it. So, so this mandate to revise certain articles, not the whole Confession was given to the Faith and Life team by our pastors. There was a survey taken way back when three articles were identified as maybe the top three that could really use an update. And this was one of them, Article eight on Christian baptism. So we decided to start with it and see whether we can update a Confession, one article at a time, as opposed to take on this massive task of reworking the whole thing. So through surveys, through convention workshops, through regional meetings, through email, we have been collecting feedback. We are now on draft eleven. So the feedback has been considered and brought in and it has been a real joy. My favorite times would be probably in the convention workshops in a room full of pastors where we would talk about the issues and pastors would share the challenges that they face in the church around baptism and belonging to a church, people becoming members of a church. And it's like, yep, yep, yep. Been there, done that, lived that, I totally agree. I see it. So issues of administration, of membership lists and so on. So I think it really hits home where our churches, the everyday life of the church. I would say, I think the the wording of the new article is fresh. It's invitational, it's joyful. It's very celebratory of this amazing gift that baptism is. I really, I mean, I was baptized as an adult after I believed and it is that, it is a gift that God has given us. I am very passionate about baptism because it is a powerful act of obedience on the part of the believer, that you believer on the part of the church as well as we are. We actually were doing what Christ has asked us to do, to baptize. It's also powerful symbolically. You know, the water that we're plunged into takes us all the way to the chaos waters of creation, to the exodus, through the red sea, you know, passing from death to life and deliverance and all the way to the cross. So it's, it's powerful and it's a gift. So I think we ought to look at it that way as opposed to, oh, here's a hoop to jump through or something that we got to do. So the article is written in that sense, much more excitement, I think, about the act of baptism. Yeah. So it's been a good process so far.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, well, that's, that's illustrative of the different two aspects of the Confession, one being the center and the other being the boundary. So what you're describing is you know, just working through the article and heating up the center, saying what really is the transformational thing that we want to say about what do we believe about this? And then, you know, we don't have time to solve this, but there's the boundary question that I think a lot of us as pastors, a lot of pastors still wrestle with, and that is around infant baptism, believers' baptism and people's experience. And in my experience, in all the dialogues, that still remains, you know, a live question. And honestly, I you know, at times I just I think, OK, this is our value. It's our tradition. And we affirm it is how we understand and read the scripture, but we're all interacting with people who see things differently around the scripture. And we've, I think, decided we don't have any right to hold in judgement over people. But it it you know, without getting to that subject, that remains still a challenge, a pastoral challenge. How do we function with people who come to us who are clearly full of the spirit, loving Christ, serving him? They want to be involved, but their infant baptized and they don't see the need. So our pastors wrestle with that, sorry pastors, we're not going to answer that question. Oh I was hoping to get to that. You will have an answer. Well, 30 seconds or less.

Ingrid Reichard:
30 seconds. So this is by far the the most complicated issue. And we, we have spent a lot of time talking about it around the National Faith and Life team table and other tables, and recognize that this is the hardest pastoral issue. And we have, as we have said, okay, let's read the scriptures and see whether we can accept infant baptism in lieu of end and a meaningful confirmation. That's what we're talking about really, is someone who is infirm, baptized, meaningfully confirmed walking in Christ and then comes to an M.B community and is being asked to be baptized or a quote unquote rebaptized. And we read the scriptures to say, can we go there? And we just could not find a way. And we spent it wasn't just a small group of people. We had a a large summit of of provincial representatives and we just could not find our our way there. Interestingly, at the same time, the MC church Canada, the Lutherans and the Catholics have just concluded a five year dialogue on the very same issue. And I went to their symposium in the fall of last year where they all presented their findings. And it was interesting that the Catholic scholar said that this process helped them to see that adult baptism is the normative experience, and they need to rethink the fact that they have actually made infant baptism a normative experience and they have stretched salvation from baptism to confirmation. So 13 years or more, which is not the normative way the Bible talks about salvation or the the baptism experience. So. So we are the confession doesn't change on this issue. We have received, I think, four really well-written arguments for changing our position. We are not going to change it this time around, but we are offering resources to pastors to walk through because it's a great discipleship opportunity to walk through with someone else that we're not passing judgment on other traditions or discounting what happened. But perhaps we're celebrating and actualization of the hope that was part of their infant baptism and later confirmation and so on.

Rob Thiessen:
Right. So, yeah, well, that's a great answer. A little bit more, but that was a deep topic. Thank you Ingrid. And there's so many more things we could talk about. And so but that's probably enough for today's conversation and pretty intense. Maybe the podcast listeners were hoping for something a little lighter when they tuned in today. But we got into the some of the deep stuff. And it's it's with great appreciation that we we thank you for joining us today, Ingrid. And for our listeners, I look forward to having you join us again here and for for this episode. This is Rob Thiessen have a blessed day. And we'll look forward to being with you again on our podcast in the future. Bye bye.

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