by Terry M. Smith
What is the EMC? “The EMC is a movement of people advancing Christ’s kingdom culture as we live, reach, gather, and teach” (EMC Vision Statement). This is a fine statement.
The EMC is a corporation. The Senate of Canada in 1959 passed an act that lists our name, “head office,” objects [purposes], powers, committees, power to acquire and dispose of properties, and more (check The Constitution).
The EMC is a community of faith; its goal is to serve Christ, not structures. Further, a denomination is “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church” (Oxford Dictionary). This fits the EMC.
Does a denomination require a top-down, episcopal (bishop) structure? Not really. For much of its history, though, the KG had bishops.
For a few people to say that the EMC is not a denomination might come from this desire: “You can’t tell us what to do.” However, mutual accountability and discipline have been important to the Anabaptist faith for 500 years and the wider Christian faith for much longer.
Is the EMC a loose fellowship? What then of The Constitution that details our beliefs, practices, expectations, and structures? It lists how churches are to accept the constitution and give “responsible support of resolutions and programs developed together” (20). The General Board can step in when a leader is unfaithful (19) or a church is in trouble (21). The EMC can dismiss a congregation (20). Does this sound loose?
The “you” to whom we are accountable? Our sisters and brothers that form EMC churches across Canada under Christ. The EMC’s national meetings, boards, committees, and staff members serve only with authority delegated by the churches, but this does not make the relationships or authority any less real.