May 13, 2003 Volume 17, Number 04
EFC stays the course
Incoming president Bruce Clemenger is poised to build on the work of his predecessors
By Doug Koop | ChristianWeek Staff
OTTAWA, ON-The parade of candidates included a passel of pastors and Christian leaders, but after nearly nine months of looking, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's (EFC) presidential search committee settled on Bruce Clemenger, who has been part of the organization for more than a decade.
As founding director of the EFC's Centre for Faith and Public Life in Ottawa, Clemenger has long been a senior member of the organization's leadership team. "My focus with EFC until now has been on the relation between church and state," he says.
"As president it will be on broader church and society issues and include the full expression of evangelical faith in all areas of life."
On June 1 he officially steps into the position vacated by Gary Walsh last summer. Although EFC has its head offices in Markham, Ontario, the new president expects to remain in the nation's capital for the immediate future.
And while he will need to replace himself in the Ottawa office, he doesn't envision many other personnel changes. "We have a strong and capable leadership team that has enabled us to be effective during the time between presidents. I look forward to continuing to work with them all," he says.
Why did it take so long to find someone so close to home? EFC board chair Paul Magnus explains that "leadership selection without a careful search signals carelessness and disadvantages the person who is chosen because there is always the suspicion there is a better candidate available who was not discovered because of neglect in doing due diligence in the search."
According to Magnus, "Bruce demonstrated a set of qualities and experiences that we could not easily train for. The interviews resulted in a deepening awareness that his character, gifts, passions, understandings and competencies were the best match for the current position and function of EFC."
Both Clemenger and Magnus describe the EFC as organization that brings evangelical leaders together and helps them work together more effectively. "EFC's strength is its ability to gather evangelicals; its purpose is to promote and practise collaborative engagement in Canadian society," says Clemenger.
Magnus maintains that Clemenger has "a very deep understanding of Canada, Canadian church and ministry organizations," and is "a humble, persistent servant of God" who has "the full support of the EFC leadership team."
The acid tests of Clemenger's leadership, say observers, will be how well he performs as EFC's primary communicator and how effective he is at raising the money required to operate the organization.
"His opportunity and need for fundraising has not been deep or wide," allows Magnus. "He has participated but has not lead such initiatives and there will be help and support for him in this as well."
Loving God and neighbour
For his part, Clemenger aims to "nurture a fellowship" that reflects "the diversity of evangelicalism in Canada," that participates strategically "in the life of our nation," that is an "effective, creative and bold witness of the Evangel," and is "known for a compassionate and gospel oriented love for our neighbours."
In an "increasingly pluralized and secularist society," he continues, "the story we tell will be welcomed by many but its implications will be increasingly resisted in many sectors.
"There is a need to foster a deep awareness of our common identity and calling as evangelicals."
One of the key messages he hopes to communicate is that "evangelicals are far more diverse than commonly understood, from ethnicity to politics, yet are united in our faith in Christ, commitment to the Scriptures and desire to share our faith in word and deed.
"We want to participate fully in Canadian society," says Clemenger. "We do not seek to impose our faith, but rather to engage with our neighbours a way that does not conform to the standards or wisdom of others but which challenges them and fully expresses our faith and hope in Christ."