The National Pastors’ Orientation (NPO), delayed for one year due to COVID-19, was held March 28-30 in San Diego, California, on Shelter Island.
Twenty-six pastors new to USMB, including lead pastors, church planters and associate pastors, as well as 11 spouses plus 18 presenters and five of their spouses attended the three-day event hosted by the U.S. Board of Faith and Life (BFL).
Topics covered during the seven sessions included pastoral resources; USMB diversity, identity, vision and leadership structures; Mennonite Brethren history, Confession of Faith and being Anabaptist and evangelical; issues in society and culture; and partnerships.
Resource speakers were Don Morris, USMB national director; Jon Wiebe, president and CEO of MB Foundation; Wendell Loewen, Tabor College professor; Board of Faith and Life members Jana Hildebrandt and Tim Geddert; and district ministers Rick Eshbaugh, Terry Hunt, Dan Strutz and Tim Sullivan.
Multiply workers Stephen Humber and Bob Davis, who is also the ICOMB U.S. advocate, and Kyle Goings, chair of USMB Youth, shared morning devotions.
Brandon Pasion led worship each morning and for the closing communion service.
Representatives from Fresno Pacific University, Tabor College, FaithFront, MB Foundation, Multiply, ICOMB and USMB Youth each spoke briefly, introducing and informing attendees about their ministries.
No group activities were planned for Monday afternoon and evening or Tuesday after dinner so that attendees could informally connect with one another.
The NPO, subsidized by USMB to reduce costs for attending pastors, is typically held every two years on odd-numbered years. With COVID-19, the schedule was delayed one year, resulting in a three-year gap between NPO gatherings. To get back on track, BFL plans to hold the event again in 2023, then resume an every other year format.
Most USMB district conferences require newly licensed pastors to attend the NPO to understand how the conference functions, what agencies are available for resources and what USMB offers through LEAD initiatives, the Church Planting Council (CPC) and the new Leadership Pipeline. Attendees can meet and get to know conference leaders, build relationships with other pastors and learn how their church fits within the USMB family.