Several of our EMCC pastors have retired since General Assembly in May 2021. We hope you will enjoy reading about their ministries and their plans now that they have arrived at retirement.

Rich Kopanke

Retired Oct 31, 2021, from Faith EMC, Kitchener

Rich and Inge are back in the city where they began ministry at Cross Connection EMC, Chilliwack, BC in 1981. The church was called Zion then. After 5 years at Zion, Rich served three more churches; Albright in Winnipeg (2 years), Faith in Richmond (9 years), and finally 24 years at Faith in Kitchener. A week after their house sold in Kitchener this summer, they bought a home in Chilliwack, arriving July 30. 

“God put this together,” says Rich. “We know we are in the right place.”

Of their 40 years in pastoral ministry, Rich says, “We loved it. My biggest joy is to see people light up about God. And to see those who many years ago were youths, and are now solid leaders. How gracious it was of God to let us be part of that.”

A few questions for Rich:

What piece of advice would you offer to young pastors? 

Pull together some solid people, in, or outside of the church who can guide. Someone you can trust, who will be a mentor, a sounding board.

What word of advice do you have for a pastor a few years from retirement?

If at all possible, have a succession plan and groom your successor. Accept him for who he is. We did this at Faith, and it helped get a good fit for the church.

Share a valuable leadership lesson you learned. 

The importance of trying to see things through other people’s eyes. Get to know people, listen to their stories and what’s going on in their lives. Only then can you begin to understand the struggles they have, what they are dealing with. Otherwise it’s easy to jump to wrong conclusions.

Rich and Inge are practicing hospitality with their neighbours, asking themselves, “How can I be Christ in this situation?” Not just meals, but on the lookout for opportunities to lend a hand, drop off some yeast buns or soup.

Rich may be found in his new workshop, building furniture, reading the stack of books that has been waiting, or he and Inge may be away, visiting family, or travelling around BC in their van.

“I have my pastoral skills, gifts. We are waiting on God to show us what’s next.”

Claran Martin

Retired August 15, 2021, EMCC Regional Minister 

“I enjoyed every place I was called and every ministry season. They were all great fits for me,” says Claran. “And I expect that this retirement season will also be fruitful and fun.”

Before becoming one of EMCC’s Regional Ministers, Claran pastored three Ontario congregations. He began in 1981 at Bethel, Lion’s Head and went on to serve at Palmerston EMC in 1984, and then to Hanover MC in 1992. 

In 2008 he accepted an invitation to become a Regional Minister. “I was ready for a change and looked forward to caring, coaching, and resourcing our EMCC pastors. At first, it was challenging to make the shift from working with people I connected with face-to-face on a weekly basis to caring for people spread across the whole province. I really enjoyed working with devoted pastors who were ready for change and were keen to take their next steps of action.”

Claran’s biggest joy in ministry has come in this last four years, since being trained in disciple-making by 3D Movements. This organization ‘exists to put Jesus-Shaped discipleship and mission back into the hands of everyday people.’ 

“My investment in discipling other pastors and people has been the most fulfilling,” says Claran. “At present, I am still actively participating in two Disciple-Making Huddles with EMCC Pastors.”

A few questions for Claran:

Share a valuable leadership lesson you learned. 

1. Work with whom you’ve got. Be content with that. 

2. It’s all about healthy relationships. Me trusting people; people trusting me. It is important to learn to quickly forgive and let go. Unfortunately, so much tension persists because people don’t forgive as we have been forgiven.

What piece of advice would you offer young pastors? 

Make disciples who make disciples. Spend more time training others, don’t try to do it all yourself.

What would you say to pastors a few years out from retirement? 

Raise up the next generation. Invest in others, and in your replacements. Ignite passion in others – they will carry some of your passion into the future. This is life-giving. Avoid coasting. Finish well.

Claran and Adriana continue to live in Hanover, Ontario. They retired together and immediately headed out the door for a ten-week road trip, spending time with their adult kids and families in Manitoba and British Columbia. 

“We have a window of opportunity right now and we want to use it to invest in our children and grandchildren.” 

Other enjoyable pursuits are walking and hiking, biking and kayaking, cross-country and downhill skiing, traveling and learning. 

Claran continues to listen to the Holy Spirit, praying and asking, “What do you want me to do?” It will take more processing to define our retirement season, but it still feels ok to be slowed down a little bit. “But, I am delighted that my identity and purpose are clear: I am a follower of Jesus–employed or not. My purpose is to help others follow Jesus too.”

Graham Burkhart 

Retired Sept 12, 2021, from Bethel EMC, New Dundee

Reflecting on his 42 years of pastoral ministry, Graham says, “I always had good people to work with, and witnessing the Lord at work in people’s lives has been my greatest joy in ministry. I never viewed pastoral service as a career. It is a calling, and retirement isn’t the end of that calling or service.” 

Graham and Laurie were pastoral couple at three EMC churches, beginning in 1979: Aylmer, St. Thomas, and Bethel, New Dundee. Graham retired three days after marking twenty-five years at Bethel.

Pastoral service and academic work ran together through many years as Graham undertook graduate studies. These studies included courses at what was then Ontario Theological Seminary (now Tyndale Seminary) from 1980 – 1982; course work for the MA program in Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield Illinois, in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion from 1983 – 1986; a return to OTS for a year of Hebrew Exegesis and Grammar study in 1992; German, Latin, and Formal Logic at the University of Waterloo from 1992 – 1993; thesis supervision by a member of the theological faculty in Oxford UK through the Graduate Theological Foundation leading to the Master of Theology degree in 2009; and the completion of a PhD in 2017 from the University of Manchester after research supervision at the affiliated college, Nazarene Theological College and successfully defending a thesis entitled; A RESPONSE TO OPEN THEISM through consideration of the theism of James Arminius: With special attention to his ideas of Foreknowledge and Foreordination. These academic opportunities were facilitated by study leave granted by the Aylmer and the New Dundee congregations.

Pastoral service and volunteer denominational work also ran together. In 1983 Graham was appointed to the Constitution Commission of The Missionary Church Inc. and worked with denominational Bylaws, Policy & Procedure, and Statement of Faith. When The Missionary Church of Canada separated organizationally from The Missionary Church Inc., Graham began service with the Constitution Commission of The Missionary Church of Canada. He was part of the team that negotiated the merger between The Evangelical Church in Canada and The Missionary Church of Canada. He served as chair of the Constitution Commission until he resigned the position in 2015. The last major Bylaw project was at the time when the districts were wrapped into the National organization.  Although usually remembered for his Bylaw work, the Statement of Faith part was the aspect he actually enjoyed, and he believed to have enduring value.

Graham and Laurie are looking forward to the next chapter with opportunities to help pastors think better theologically about great Biblical doctrines and think biblically about the issues of the day. Graham anticipates publishing a book, Arminius and the Open Future which will delve into the doctrine of God on the subject of divine election and the question of human free will. 

“The book will publish my doctoral research in a more readable form, suitable for Bible College students, pastors, and anyone willing to think through aspects of the doctrine of God.”

He also intends to launch a website, early in 2022. It will address various topics that confront us and will seek to differentiate between a familiar or preferential understanding, and a genuine biblical understanding