Celebrating our 150th anniversary


U.S. Mennonite Brethren can experience global MB Church in Vancouver

by Connie Faber

How will you celebrate the 150th birthday of the Mennonite Brethren Church, now a body of 280,000 believers who worship in some18 countries? Why not experience the global Mennonite Brethren family firsthand by attending Celebration 2010, the second of two global anniversary celebrations, scheduled for July 12-18 in Vancouver, BC.

The early registration deadline has passed, but registrations will be taken until June 20. Participants can register online at www.celebration2010.org/registration. The deadline for reservations at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, a hotel in Surrey at which a group rate has been negotiated, is June 10.

The Vancouver celebration is really four events in one, beginning with Renewing Identity and Mission: A Mennonite Brethren Consultation scheduled for Monday evening, July 12, through Wednesday noon. The remaining events—Celebration 2010 sessions and Canadian and U.S. Conference (USC) biennial conventions—are intertwined Wednesday evening, July 14, through Saturday afternoon.

RIM reviews past, looks to future

Renewing Identity and Mission (RIM) will explore where Mennonite Brethren have been, where they are going and what they have learned along the way. RIM will take place on the campus of ACTS Seminaries, a consortium of Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, of which MB Biblical Seminary is a member.

The three-day consultation will involve more than 30 presenters, and RIM organizers anticipate it will be a rich time of reflection and conversation, along with the challenge to be God’s missional people in the world. Alfred Neufeld of Paraguay is the Monday evening plenary speaker and he will talk about theology and identity. Tuesday evening a panel of international guests—Nzuzi Mukawa of DR Congo, John Shankar Rao of India, Caesar Garcia of Colombia and Johann Matthies of Germany—will focus on missions.

Binational services, business sessions

The second component of Celebration 2010 begins Wednesday evening when the first of two evening celebratory services are held at Chandos Pattison Auditorium, located on the campus of Pacific Academy in Surrey. Celebration 2010 participants will hear from three international Mennonite Brethren Wednesday and Friday evenings—Mukawa of DR Congo, Rao of India and a Mennonite Brethren serving Arabic-speaking communities through radio, television and printed materials.

Thursday, July 15, Celebration 2010 participants will return to Chandos Pattison Auditorium for a day of binational and international ministry reports. Reporting agencies will include MBMS International (MBMSI), the North American denominational global mission agency, and MB Biblical Seminary (MBBS), the North American MB seminary with campuses in Fresno, Calif., Abbotsford, BC and Winnipeg, Man.

MBMSI will use an interactive world map to tell mission stories that illustrate how God’s family continues to grow, says Randy Friesen, MBMSI general director. The MBMSI report will highlight the most recent conference of Mennonite Brethren churches in Thailand and Laos, with reports from Team 2000 members who are completing their 10-year commitments to church planting and recommitting to new leadership and resourcing roles in Thailand.

MBBS will review the seminary’s 55-year history and outline its plans for the future. The report will include alumni and student testimonies and comments from MBBS President Lynn Jost. Fresno Pacific University President D. Merrill Ewert will highlight plans for providing graduate theological education in the U.S. and the Canadian Conference Task Force will outline its work in Canada. Delegates will have the opportunity to interact withseminary representatives during the national conference business sessions.

U.S. delegates meet

The U.S. and Canadian Conferences will hold their biennial conventions at separate locations Thursday evening and Friday morning and afternoon. North Langley Community Church will host Canada’s Gathering 2010 and Gracepoint Community Church will host the U.S.’s Conection 2010.

Stories of transformed lives, told live as well as pre-taped, is the focus of Conection 2010. Matt Unruh, worship arts pastor at Gracepoint, will be the musical worship leader.

The opening Conection service will emphasize the diversity of the U.S. Conference. Slavic and Ethiopian choirs from the U.S. Pacific Northwest have been invited to participate in the worship celebration. Paul Robie, pastor of South Mountain Community Church in Salt Lake City, will highlight the ministry of Mennonite Brethren in Utah.

Friday Conection delegates will hear testimonies from Mission USA church planters and people who have been impacted by new Mennonite Brethren churches, a report that is often a convention highlight. “These personal stories of what God is doing through our church planters is always rewarding,” says Mission USA director Don Morris. “Our U.S. MB church planting is increasing, and we are excited to tell the story.”

Delegates will also hear reports Friday from the U.S. Conference Leadership Board, Board of Faith and Life and Christian Leader. The National Youth Convention planning team, Tabor College and Fresno Pacific University will give ministry updates. As part of its report, MB Foundation will distribute a new booklet telling the story of 150 years of denominational stewardship.

Delegates will take action on a recommended budget and a bylaw change that places district ministers, by virtue of office, on the national Board of Faith and Life. Delegates will also elect board members for national and binational boards.

Celebration 2010 participants can “Experience Vancouver” Saturday. While the agenda for the day includes visiting a tourist attraction, the focus will be on ministry—exploring how Mennonite Brethren are active in the inner city, a prayer journey and a closing rally in downtown Vancouver. Vancouver area Mennonite Brethren congregations will host visitors for Sunday worship services.

The Celebration 2010 Web site offers details about complimentary transportation options, meals and breaks and the children and youth programs.

Read about Celebration 2010 in the CL

The first of two global celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Mennonite Brethren Church was May 13-24 in Germany and included the annual meeting of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren. A report of this celebration will be published in an upcoming issue of the Christian Leader.

In keeping with the binational flavor of Celebration 2010, staff members of both Canadian and U.S. Mennonite Brethren publications will be contributing reports, photos and reflections about this event. We also plan to ask participants from both countries to share their experiences and thoughts.

We are excited to offer extensive online coverage of Celebration 2010 and Conection that will include online blogs, reports and photos published at CL Online (www.usmb.org/christian-leader) in early August. So be sure to visit CL Online in early August for a full Celebration 2010 report.

The printed Celebration 2010 report will be published in the August/September issue, and this issue will be delayed by one month so that we can include coverage of this historic celebration. The August/September issue will be mailed in September rather than August, while the October/November issue will be mailed in October as usual.

Resources celebrate 150th

Several resources are available commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
n The Mennonite Brethren Church Around The World: Celebrating 150 is a commemorative book containing stories of the global Mennonite Brethren family written within their contexts. The price is significantly reduced if purchased with registration for Celebration 2010.

  • Global Mennonite Brethren Devotional Series was an online series of 50 devotionals to be used during the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost 2010. Writers represent most of the 18-member conferences of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB). A historical note covering the 150 years of the Mennonite Brethren Church accompanies each devotional. The devotional series is found at http://icomb.org/globalmbdevotionals.
  • Knowing and Living Your Faith, a study guide for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith, was developed in anticipation of the 150th anniversary as resource for congregations. The study manual can be viewed and downloaded at http://icomb.org/literature.

India Conference first to celebrate

This eight-member girls’ troupe performs a welcome dance at the India MB Conference’s 150th anniversary celebration Jan. 17. India was the first national Mennonite Brethren conference to celebrate our 150th anniversary.

The event, held on the grounds of a hospital operated by the India MB Conference at Jadcherla, Andhra Pradesh, drew a crowd of 2,000. They met beneath a shamiana (tent) for five hours, beginning mid-morning and including a meal.

The 23-item program included an address by P.B. Arnold, president of the governing council, and a presentation on Anabaptist history by I.P. Asheervadam, historian and teacher at MB Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad. The program launched the Telugu translation of Knowing and Living Your Faith, a study guide to the International Community Of Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith and included a groundbreaking service for a monument marking the occasion. Officials from the India church and several representatives from North America brought greetings. The celebration ended with the Lord’s Supper.


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