More than 150 people gathered at Bible Fellowship Church in Rapid City, SD, for the 108th Central District Conference (CDC) convention held Nov. 2-3, 2018. Delegates welcomed a new church, approved a new church plant and passed a budget that includes funds for churches and additional district staff.
Delegates unanimously welcomed Bethel Ethiopian Church of Sioux Falls, SD, as a new member of the CDC. The congregation of 125-plus moved into a new building this summer. Four members of the congregation and Elder Wagene represented the church at the convention.
“What a privilege to visit with brothers in Christ while reviewing the doctrine of the Central District and to find a common bond with Christ,” said Coalt Robinson, chair of the CDC Faith and Life Commission, in his report affirming BethelEthiopian Fellowship.
Delegates also affirmed a new church plant in downtown Rapid City. The CDC is planting this new church in partnership with Multiply, the local, national and global church planting agency that works collaboratively and jointly with USMB and the five district conferences to plant churches across the U.S.
Jon and Michele Fiester and their family began Renewal MB Church this summer after several months of praying with others about the possibility of planting a new church targeting the70,000 people identified in Rapid City as not attending a gospel-preaching church. Their desire is to reach the “none and dones,” says Fiester.
Banquet highlights church planting
The Friday evening Church Planting and Renewal Banquet included a time of sharing by leaders from both Bethel Ethiopian Church and Renewal MB Church and a commissioning and prayer time for these congregations.
The banquet program, moderated by Dan Strutz, chair of the Church Planting and Renewal Committee and pastor of Community Bible Church in Mountain Lake, Minn., also included an update from five other churches and ministries financially supported by the CDC: Claude Tambatamba, church planter with New Jerusalem Temple, a Congolese congregation in Sioux Falls, SD; Mike Wall, lay leader at Stony Brook Church,Omaha, Neb.; Christian Kohs, pastor of Redemption Church, a church pant in Owatonna, Minn.; Samuel Hailemariam, pastor of Grace International Church inIndianapolis, Ind.; and Daniel Rodriguez, who represented both Good NeighborMinistries of Omaha, Neb., and Iglesia Agua Viva, the congregation Rodriguez pastors.
Budget supports expanding ministry
Delegates discussed and approved a CDC budget of $511,550. In his treasurer’s reportFriday morning, Richard Walter introduced the budget, noting the growth of district ministries over the past 30 years as evident by the fact that whenWalter became treasurer in 1989, the CDC budget was $100,000.
During the final business session Saturday morning, each committee chair explained their portion of the proposed budget, which represents a 15 percent increase over the 2018 budget.
A new line item of $25,000 was added for additional staff. John Langer, CDC chair, noted that extra funds for staffing are needed to help alleviate the pressure of additional national responsibilities, the addition of new churches and church visits that currently fall to CDC minister Rick Eshbaugh.
The 2019 budget also includes a $35,000 gift from the CDC to Gospel Fellowship Church in WolfPoint, Mont., toward completing their building project. Their church building was destroyed by fire four years ago. The new budget also reflects the costs involved in CDC participation in two significant events: sending the CDC Faith and Life Committee to the national study conference Jan. 14-16, 2019, in Phoenix, Ariz., on women in vocational church ministry and sending potentially 10 couples to the 2019 USMB National Pastors Orientation to be held March 25-27 in San Diego, Calif.
The budget also includes funds to support two CDC church plants: the new Renewal congregation and Redemption Church. Funds are also allocated to assist Iglesia Agua Viva,Omaha, Neb., while pastor Daniel Rodriguez is a full-time graduate student.
A request from delegate Curtis Hoyt, of Bible Fellowship Church and a life-long worker withNative American ministries, for additional funding for Lakota Gospel MB Church in Porcupine, SD, prompted a discussion about this ministry on the Pine Ridge reservation. Dan Strutz, chair of the Church Planting and Renewal Committee, and Eshbaugh indicated that the intention is to use the proposed funding of$5,000 to keep the work open while talking with the congregation about their future. CDC chair Langer led in a time of prayer for the Lakota congregation and its potential leaders.
In other business
Delegates elected new board members to the CDC Board of Faith and Life, Trustees, YouthCommittee, Nominating Committee and the Tabor College Board of Directors.
In other business, district conference committee chairs reported on activities of the past year. Reports were given byJohn Langer, Executive Committee chair; Dan Strutz, Church Planting and RenewalCommittee chair; Coalt Robinson, Faith and Life Committee chair; and ChuckTodd, Trustee Committee chair. No oral report was given by the Youth Committee.Treasurer Richard Walter and district minister Rick Eshbaugh also reported.
A new youth camp was announced for July 29-Aug. 3, 2019, at Sandhills Lake BibleCamp in Fosston, Minn. This camp will continue the North Central Conference youth camp tradition that was in limbo when the NCC dissolved in 2017.
Friday afternoon delegates could choose from two workshops: one hosted by the Church Planting and Renewal Committee on “Gospel Fluency” and a second by the Faith and Life Committee on the Confession of Faith and policy.
The convention also included reports by various ministry affiliates. Don Morris represented USMB; Kyle Goings represented USMB Youth; Chris Douglas representedMultiply; Jon Wiebe and Garvie Schmidt represented MB Foundation; Jules Glanzer reported on Tabor College, Chuck Buller and Lynn Jost represented Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary; Dennis Weis represented Mennonite Disaster Service; Peggy Goertzen represented the Center for MB Studies located at Tabor College; Andrew Wright from the Central States Region represented Mennonite CentralCommittee; and Paul Dyke represented Good Neighbor Ministries of Omaha, Neb.
Convention speaker emphasizes Bible’s authority
Worship sessions included times of singing and prayer led by a team from Renewal MB Church led by Fiester. Convention speaker Rich Peterson gave three sermons on the topic “The Authority of Scripture.”
Peterson is a retired pastor who currently lives in Omaha, Neb. A passion in his 39 years of ministry has been training young adults to read the Bible in its original context, to be faithful to the author’s intention and to proclaim Scripture from a God-centered perspective.
In his first message, Peterson cited a number of Bible passages in his focus on the authority of Scripture in one’s personal life, encouraging his listeners not be guided by circumstances or what others say. In his second message, based on 2 Tim. 1:10-17, Peterson emphasized the authority the Bible has in one’sministry. He spoke of the importance of love in sharing God’s Word. “Love is what moves the words of the page (Bible) to the hearts of people receiving the message,” he said.
Peterson’s final sermon, with 2 John as his main text, was titled, “God intends Scripture to have authority in our interactions in a pluralistic culture.” He again emphasized the importance of truth and love when sharing the gospel. Even in our disagreements, others must see love—a relationship of union, love, support and submission—so that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, said Peterson.
Peterson’s closing message was followed by communion led by Dan Fiester, pastor of the host church. Fiester also closed the convention closed with a blessing.
With notes from CDC secretary Helene Wedel