Delegates from 21 Mennonite Brethren national conferences reported challenges and joys at the International Community of Mennonite Brethren annual summit May 29-June 2 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It was obvious that God is moving among us, as the number of overall baptisms numbered in the hundreds,” said Don Morris, national director of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.
Growth was reported in Malawi and Germany and among the Khmu in Southeast Asia.
“Although much of the reporting was about the many good things taking place in many of the conferences, some delegates asked for prayer for difficulties being experienced,” Morris said.
“In some countries there is simply not enough financial resources to do all the things pastors and leaders would like in order to reach more people.”
The agenda included sessions to discuss the road ahead. Questions included: What is ICOMB’s contribution to God’s kingdom? Is the annual ICOMB gathering a good use of resources? What are ICOMB’s core commitments?
The representatives affirmed ICOMB is not a missionary-sending agency nor a church planting agency and concluded there is value in maintaining MB family connections.
“We are an Anabaptist global family of faith, and that is worth a lot,” said Ed Boschman, retired USMB executive director and USMB representative to ICOMB. “It’s good to gather to nurture and celebrate that reality.
“A core agreement is that there is value in a global Mennonite Brethren Anabaptist family that is part of the mission of God. We’re sticking together.”
Delegates discussed financial realities. ICOMB requests that each national conference donate 2 percent of its income, which USMB does. According to Morris, the U.S. conference contributes $16,100, plus covering travel expenses for USMB ICOMB representatives.
Delegates heard a report from Vic Wiens, a former missionary and now a staff member of Multiply, the USMB mission agency, who has been seconded to ICOMB to serve as consultant with emerging MB conferences.
They also heard from Doug Heidebrecht, who works with leadership training and education, and Randy Friesen, president of Multiply.
Other U.S. participants included Dina Gonzalez Pina, U.S. Mennonite Central Committee national staff; Xavier Pina, Pacific District Conference Hispanic Council chair; and Gary Wall, PDC minister.
A global perspective
“Meeting the global MB conference leaders was transformational,” Gonzalez Pina said in an email. “The reports and the stories of what the Lord is doing were edifying.
“I think it is important for the USMB conference to better understand what the Lord is doing in our global MB family. . . . It challenges our USMB family to broaden its Western perspective of community into a global perspective.”
Delegates affirmed Wall as the ICOMB U.S. national director, a role he will assume Jan. 1.
As the first U.S. national director, Wall will work to strengthen the partnership between ICOMB and USMB, help to raise funds and travel among USMB congregations, cultivating “good will and making USMB and ICOMB close allies,” Boschman said.
People from the MB churches in Guadalajara joined the delegates for a Sunday worship service.