CliffsNotes – February 4, 2020

Be Free! And an Ordination

The Reverend Todd Stelmach wore a suit (but more on that later).

We are in a series of interviews with the Chair of the Board of Administration. Dr. Harold Gonyou is laying out recommendations that we will be discussing at General Conference May 14-17. Remember, BOA (and frankly your FMCiC) is hoping that you will have discussed these with your leadership teams, asked clarifying questions, and prayed. This week and next week we are outlining the proposed new Guiding Principles.

So far Harold we have outlined the reshaped Board of Administration, and the recommendation to decrease the size of the BOA while maintaining regional and clergy-lay representation. Today let’s talk about “Page 1” of The Manual. As a BOA we invited someone to come and lead us in an exercise to prayerfully consider our identity: Who and what is the Free Methodist Church in Canada? We discovered that we are and want to be “FREE”! In fact, the new Guiding Principles on Page 1 are based on our traditional “frees” but translated into Canadian 2020. Tell us about these Frees – process and purpose.

Harold: One of the issues we addressed during our recent Life Plan exercise was ‘What does it mean to be a Free Methodist?’ When we discussed this at Regional Gatherings our pastors and laity often made reference to the traditional ‘Freedoms’ describing a number of positions taken by the early FM church. But we could all agree that those statements needed some explaining when used in modern context. They were very specific responses to issues of the time (mid nineteenth century).

As we discussed the identity of our movement, the BOA focused on what is meaningful to people today. We asked ourselves what attracted us to, and retained us in, the FMCiC. Doctrine was important to some, but we all shared about warm, welcoming experiences and a sense of community within the local church. In trying to reduce those experiences to principles, we found we would often revert to the traditional ‘Freedoms’. Yet we all agreed that we couldn’t explain ourselves to non-FMers using those statements without going into their historical background.

We developed a set of ‘new Frees” that would capture the principles that guided early Free Methodists, but would reflect the context of today. These are not doctrinal statements although they reflect our doctrine. Nor are they vision and mission statements. We retain all of those in the proposed revisions. But they reflect ideas that describe how we think and approach ministry. They are guiding principles.

For instance, when the denomination was founded a ‘Free’ church meant that it stood against slavery. The underlying principle was that of pursuing social justice. That principle still guides us today as we recognize that there is intrinsic worth and value in all persons that isn’t always protected by our laws, social conventions, or economic practices. This freedom to pursue social justice was a major characteristic of early Methodism, heightened by the offensiveness of slavery in the USA (and elsewhere), and part of accepting responsibility for our communities by our churches today. We value people. The outcome has been the feeling of warmth and acceptance expressed by members of the BOA as they discussed what attracted them to the FMCIC.

I remember the BOA explaining that if we were on a plane or having a coffee with a friend, and that friend asked, “What’s a Free Methodist anyway?” We wanted a great answer. Depending on the amount of time and interest our friend has, we decided that a brief history is important and then a clear and concise statement of our Freedoms would be inspiring. Here are the links for the motion and the Manual Introduction Pages:
The Frees: Motion
Manual Introduction Pages


This weekend Karlene and I worshiped with Kingston West FM. They celebrated God’s financial blessing last year as they ended the year very well. They explained that last year they decided to take the faith step to fully participate in Core (a full 10%), and God blessed! It was also good to see Deb Hogeboom – this is her home church and has been well loved. Thank you Kingston West (and thanks for the great food!).

In the afternoon Todd Stelmach wore a suit because he was being ordained. Al Dosenger gave a brilliant exhortation about living into the two coal fires mentioned in John: in between the fire in the courtyard where Peter denied Jesus, and the fire that the risen Jesus was cooking fish over, for Peter and the others. I love ordination services – it is another example of the church working well: identifying leaders and helping them grow into their callings. Thank you Rustle Church!


Church Health Thursdays – Listen to the Tug on Your Heart:
News & Stories Blog – First Response Bags:
the conneXion – a Free Methodist theology blog: 3 Minute Theology 2.5: Knowing the Bible Inside Out:
New Leaf Network: The 2019 New Leaf Advent Reader – :


Todd Stelmach’s ordination

Mrs. Jennifer (Jenn) Cornwall – hired as Clerical Assistant to Credentialling Coordinator, Susan DePlanché, effective February 1.


None Scheduled


Register online through the link above

Lay Ministers tracking for credentialed ministry and those transferring ordination credentials into the FMCiC need to take the following two courses for full credit – and if possible, the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology.

Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
June 5-7, 2020 – at Kingsview Free Methodist Church, Etobicoke, ON
November 6-8, 2020 –  location TBA*

Wesleyan Theology:
November 6-8, 2020 –   Ontario location TBA*
(also available online through FMC-USA:

Ministerial Candidates tracking for Commissioned or Ordained Minister are required to take the following two courses for full credit.  Those who are already commissioned or ordained are required to either audit these two courses for 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) each or take the two courses and complete the assignments for 3 CEUs each.

Culture and the Missional Church:
Ontario course date and location TBA*

Personal and Church Stewardship:
5-week online course (FRENCH) – start date – TBA
6-week online course (ENGLISH) – start date – June 1, 2020

(* These course locations are selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early!  Note:  Tuition payment is not required when registering for a course.  Payment is due 10 days before the course begins.)



February 15 is the deadline to apply for the Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) for any courses taken during the winter semester of 2020. The 2020 application forms and instructions are now available to download from the link above.

October 15 is the deadline to apply for the annual Special Scholarships for courses taken during 2020 – apply online from the link above.



Ordained and Commissioned Ministers (except retirees) are to annually report Continuing Education Units (CEUs) acquired during each year.  Check the link above for information on CEUs, the report form and a list of examples of many different types of life-long learning that can be applied as CEUs.
Note:  For those who attend the fall Minister’s Conferences, add 6 hours of CEU credit when you send in your annual CEU report. 



Athens FMC, Athens, ON
Lakeland Community Church, Spiritwood, SK
Queensway FMC, Niagara Falls, ON


Church Profiles available
Contact Susan DePlanché  in the  Leadership Development Office to request a church profile – [email protected] or 289-228-1225 (deadline to apply in brackets)

None available at this time


Preparing Profiles

(If you are interested in seeing the profile for any of these churches, please contact Susan in the Leadership Development Office [[email protected] or 289-228-1225] and the profile will be emailed to you as soon as it becomes available.)

Campbellford FMC, Campbellford, ON
Cedar Street Community Church, Simcoe, ON
Cornerstone FMC, Prince Albert, SK
Trinity Christian Centre, Dresden, ON
Eyebrow FMC, Eyebrow, SK
First FM Church, New Westminster, BC
New Hope FMC, Bracebridge, ON
Pineview FMC, Cloyne, ON
Richmond Hill Chinese & English FM Churches, Richmond Hill, ON
Smiths Falls FMC, Smiths Falls, ON (Rev. Aaron Birtch – Transition Pastor)
Whitby FMC, Whitby, ON

Executive Director – Wesley Acres Christian Retreat Centre
Ministry Intern – Maple Grove Christian Retreat Centre
Youth Pastor – Malvern Methodist