Central district celebrates 100 years of ministry


Delegates inspired by stories, hear reports

by Connie Faber


The Central District Conference (CDC) story—both past and present—was recounted by various people in multiple formats during the district’s centennial celebration held Nov. 11-14, 2010, and hosted by Community Bible Church, Mountain Lake, Minn., just 10 miles from the site of the district’s very first convention.

Seven congregations were invited to share a historical sketch of their church and ministries. These stories of MB churches in Harvey, ND; Huron, Bridgewater and Rapid City, SD; Lustre, Mont.; Mountain Lake, Minn., and Henderson, Neb., as well as of the ministry in Porcupine, SD, were interspersed throughout the business sessions.

The Saturday evening program featured an historical telling of the CDC told in a reader’s theater format with PowerPoint illustrations. Peggy Goertzen, director of the Tabor College Center for MB Studies in Hillsboro, Kan., offered personal observations, underlining the district’s passion for unity in spite of distance and culture, for preaching the gospel “no matter what it takes” and for reaching the marginalized.

Not only did the convention celebrate the past, it also spotlighted what God is doing now among the Mennonite Brethren living in Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

When Brad Bonnett, pastor of the host congregation, welcomed delegates he also invited them to do "constructive graffiti" on the fellowship hall windows, giving testimony of God's work in their lives, listing things for which they are thankful or celebrating CDC history. Among the guests who took Bonnett up on his offer was Sandra Nemtale, a delegate from Iglesia Agua Viva, Omaha, Neb. 

Ministry reports were given by each of the district’s committees—Executive Board, District Ministries Council, Church Planting and Renewal Committee, Faith and Life Committee, Nominating Committee, Trustees and Youth Committee—as well as District Minister Roger Engbrecht.

The Friday evening Church Planting and Renewal banquet highlighted Living Water Church and Stony Brook Church, both in the greater Omaha, Neb., area, as well as Christ Community Church in Sioux Falls, SD. Saturday afternoon presentations by representatives from Ethiopian Christian Fellowship of Sioux Falls, SD, Russian Evangelical Church in Shakopee, Minn., and the two Hispanic congregations from greater Omaha, emphasized the district’s commitment to planting churches and ministry among various ethnic groups. Stories from these churches illustrated the words of Stony Brook pastor Chad Stoner: “To be a church planting denomination is a process that isn’t satisfied without discipling people.” Vince Carrig offered a prayer for the church planting pastors Friday evening, and Roger Engebrecht prayed for ethnic church leaders Saturday afternoon. .

Delegates also heard reports from partner agencies including the U.S. Conference, Tabor College and the college’s Carson Center for Mission, Service and Global Education. Delegates elected members to district committees and approved a budget of $252,000, up from $237,400 the previous year.

Convention speaker Lynn Jost, MB Biblical Seminary dean and Fresno Pacific University vice president, gave three sermons from the Psalms. According to the Psalms, said Jost, "only those who are obedient should be praising God. Our final purpose in life is to loose ourselves in God. (Praise) is beyond obedience."

Jost was baptized at Salem MB Church of Bridgewater, SD, by his father who was pastor of the congregation in the 1960s. Jost and Tabor College president Jules Glanzer, who is also a product of the CDC, provided Friday afternoon seminars on preaching and faith in the next generation, respectively.

As it has since 2005, the district began its annual convention with a Thursday evening Celebrate Missions program by MBMS International. Jon Pritchard, Midwest regional mobilizer, moderated the evening that featured a media evangelist to North Africa and the Middle East.


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