Business sessions highlight church planting
By Ron Wuertz
When the 103rd convention of the Central District Conference of MB Churches (CDC) was called to order Friday morning, Nov. 16, at Lincoln Hills Bible Church in Sioux Falls SD, the focus was on worship.
LHBC senior pastor Tony Randall greeted the approximately 100 delegates, ministry representatives and guests, saying that the convention would feature a streamlined format with all sessions concluding by Saturday afternoon. Randall encouraged those in attendance to treat everything that happened during the convention as an act of worship to the Lord.
LHBC associate pastor John Effinger and a team of musicians and singers led in worship through music. Effinger was called to minister at Lincoln Hills in 2007 and the CDC subsidized his salary for five years as part of an effort by the Church Planting and Renewal Committee to partner with established churches to increase their ministry potential. The subsidy enabled LHBC to work the extra staffing expense into their budget gradually, until LHBC was able to carry the salary.
The theme for the convention, “From Darkness to Light” taken from I Peter 2:9, was the focus of the message by Jules Glanzer, president of Tabor College. Glanzer challenged attendees to accept the call of the church to bring the world from darkness to the “Light of the World.” Glanzer concluded his message with the question, “If your church was removed from the community, would the community notice or be affected?”
In the first business session, Church Planting and Renewal Committee chair John Langer shared that a new church plant in the CDC will soon be announced. Langer reported that existing church plants—Christ Community Church in Sioux Falls and Iglesia Manantial Aqua Viva and Stony Brook Church, both of the Omaha area—are growing in numbers and in ministry to their respective communities.
Ida Gross gave the report for Mennonite Disaster Service. Although not an official representative, Gross articulated the ongoing works and needs of MDS. Of particular interest to those in attendance was an update in the aftermath of flooding in the Minot, ND, area in the summer of 2011. Duane Deckert, senior pastor of Minot Bible Fellowship, shared the sorrows and blessings of the past two years in the community and their church, including people leaving the community and others living in the church for extended periods of time.
Following a lunch break, the first session of workshops began with a focus on the USMB Board of Faith and Life (BFL) regarding the proposed revision of the USMB Confession of Faith, Article 13. Ed Boschman, USMB executive director, pictured left, and Larry Nikkel, BFL chair, presented the revision to a crowd of about 50. The goal of the draft is to clarify or improve wording regarding peacemaking. Of the comments and questions raised, some addressed the need to include wording that serving in or protesting military service is an individual choice, not a mandate from the denomination.
The first day of the convention culminated with a banquet hosted by the Church Planting and Renewal Committee. Chad Stoner, senior pastor of Stony Brook Church in Omaha, gave a testimony and thanked the 150 in attendance for their initial and continued support in planting churches. Stoner declared that as a conference of churches, “We can do more together than separately.”
Stephen Stout, director of Good Neighbor Ministries (GNM) in Omaha, shared his own story of “surviving the low times in ministry.” Stout said that without the support and accountability of the board of GNM, discouragement would be harder to overcome.
Day two of the convention was highlighted by a message from Terry Brensinger, vice president of Fresno Pacific University and dean of the denominational seminary, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. Following the theme of darkness and light, Brensinger said that “we have been given the most important assignment in the history of mankind…to bring humanity back to God.”
In the final business session, delegates approved the proposed budget, agreed to a ratification of the Tabor College bylaws and elected Lud Holm to succeed Chuck Todd as moderator and chair of the executive committee.
Roger Engbrecht, director of ethnic ministries, and Hunegnaw Bekele, senior pastor of Ethiopian Christian Fellowship in Sioux Falls, presented a proposal for financial assistance. The proposal called for funding to make repairs and improvements to the building and grounds, salary subsidy for the senior pastor and a part-time salary for an English-speaking youth worker. Delegates approved the motion.
It was also announced the CDC will be receiving a sizable gift from an estate in early 2014.
The convention ended with district minister Rick Eshbaugh commissioning new leaders (photo top) including Luke Haidle, the newly installed senior pastor of Henderson (Neb.) MB Church. Haidle, a South Dakota native, said he is excited to connect with fellow pastors and church leaders who serve so close to his childhood home of Mitchell. Haidle said that he appreciates the support of the larger church body in planting churches.
Story by Ron Wuertz, a freelance writer living in Sioux Falls, SD, who is a member of Lincoln Hills Bible Church.