Impact of local MB church around the world continues
By Jenae Pauls for the Tabor View
The desire of Tabor College to be globally relevant received special attention March 12-19 when the college hosted its first Carson Center Week. Mission-themed events and activities were held daily to give “candle power to global issues,” said campus pastor Kevin Johnson.
One goal for the week was to “work with groups on campus so that throughout the entire week, people are hit with messages to make them globally aware,” said Johnson.
Events throughout the week included the Carson Center Banquet, a guided time of worship and prayer for the world, a report from the Southeast Asia Interterm trip participants during chapel and a conflict transformation seminar led by Lowell Ewert, director of peace and conflict studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont.
Representatives from World Impact, an inner city ministry with historic connections to Tabor College, New Tribes Missions, an agency that plants tribal churches, and MBMS International, the global mission agency of North American Mennonite Brethren, were present during the week.
Some might wonder why the name “Carson Week” was chosen instead of something more descriptive, such as “Mission Week.”
Passion for world missions has been at the center of all things “Carson” within the Mennonite Brethren. Carson MB Church was founded in 1877 near the town of Delft, Minn. Because the members lived so far apart, two buildings were eventually erected to accommodate distance.
From the beginning, the church was passionate about evangelism. In addition to the strong global vision of the pastors and members, the church had joint services four times a year for a special mission-focused Sunday.
Missionaries are special speakers told their stories and urged those attended to heed God’s call for missions. Elaine Kroeker, who has a member of the church and serves on the Tabor College Board of Directors, says she recalls attending those services and feeling “an overwhelming sense of mission focus” in the church.
“I knew I was going to go (on a missions trip), Kroeker says. “It was just a matter of when.”
The Carson MB Church sent out many missionaries through its 128-years of existence, with many of them reaching the people of India.
In 2005, however, the church was forced to close. With global missions still in mind, the church divided its assets into three parts, donating the money to Tabor College, MBMS International and MB Biblical Seminary.
At the time the money was donated to Tabor College, the institution was considering starting a program that focused on global outreach. The need and the means met simultaneously and it all came together, Kroeker says. In 2006, Tabor’s Carson Center was born.
Carson Center director Matt Cox describes the center as “an initiative to prompt global missions and service.”
The Carson Center has supported a number of cross-cultural interterm trips, spring serve trips, semester credit mission experiences and is even fostering a relationship with churches and hospitals on the other side of the world.
Tabor College Provost Lawrence Ressler says that Tabor is working on three trips to India for the future. The country is essentially a “favorite project of ours,” he says.
In the 2008-09 school year the Carson Center added another branch and sponsored an on-campus theme house, appropriately called “Carson House.” Tabor College theme houses are intended to be a formative living and learning community designed to integrate students’ residential, academic and extra-curricular experiences. Residents of a theme house meet weekly to discuss their theme and are asked to plan campus-wide programs or events focused on their particular theme.
Carson House organized several events for Carson Week, including a game night and a guided prayer time in an effort to help students think globally during the week.
“We hope students will gain a greater understanding of what God is doing in the world around us and that they will see some opportunities for them to be personally involved,” said Rachel Unger, a senior living at Carson House.
Jenae Pauls wrote this article for The Tabor View, the TC student newspaper