Online registration open for biennial delegate convention
By Connie Faber
In four months, Mennonite Brethren from across the United States will converge on Omaha, Neb., meeting at Embassy Suites Old Market, for Conection 2012, the biennial USMB delegate convention.
“We are enthused about how inspiring and fun this gathering will be,” says Ed Boschman, USMB executive director. “We will sing, pray and celebrate how the Lord of the church is transforming lives among us and drawing us together.”
Information/registration information has been sent to all USMB congregations and is available online. Registering for the convention as well as making hotel room reservations can be done online. The deadline for reserving hotel rooms at the special Conection 2012 rate is June 26.
Conection 2012 continues the USMB conventions history of offering activities for children, teens and adults. Delegates and guests and their families should arrive Thursday as Conection 2012 begins Friday morning. Attendees can arrive early or stay longer to enjoy the attractions of the Omaha metro area.
Friday and Saturday mornings, delegates and guests will hear stories of God at work in USMB church plants and partner ministries—MB Mission, MB Foundation, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, Fresno Pacific University and Tabor College. The USMB Board of Faith and Life and National Youth Commission will report. Delegates and guests will also hear from USMB staff members responsible for development, social media, Slavic ministries and the Christian Leader. Representatives from Kindred Productions and the Historical Commission, North American Mennonite Brethren ministries, will give reports.
Business sessions will also highlight the personal stories of men and women whose lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ. “These testimonies—some live and others by video—will show the nitty-gritty process of spiritual birth and ongoing spiritual growth,” says Boschman, who heads the team planning Conection 2012.
Delegates will process recommendations from the Leadership Board and Board of Faith and Life.
Children and youth
While the adults meet in morning delegate sessions, children and teens will be enjoying age-appropriate activities organized for them by USMB Omaha church volunteers.
Ben Thorson, a member of Faith Bible Church and an assistant at Good Neighbor Ministries, will be leading Conection 2012 youth (7th-12th grades) activities. Activities will include serving at a homeless shelter, visiting the world-famous Omaha zoo and a family fun center, bowling and possibly swimming. The youth will participate in both Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening activities. An Omaha native, Thorson is a recent graduate of University of Nebraska in Omaha with a degree in international studies and has served on TREK with MB Mission in Germany.
Melissa Hanna, from Omaha's Stony Brook Church, will be directing the children’s program, “Red Sea Kids Conference” for toddlers through 6th graders. The program will include a toddler and nursery room and groups of grade school children.
Red Sea Kids Conference is centered around one Bible story (Exod. 13:17-15:21), organized into five lessons with art activities, Bible verses, prayer, songs, games, enrirchment sheets, storybook and parent follow-up letters with activities.
Afternoon activities begin with workshops on a variety of topics for adults. A list of workshops, some designed as small group discussions, is available online.
Since 2004, USMB conventions goers have visited communities with strong Mennonite Brethren congregations: Salt Lake City, Utah in 2004; Boone, NC in 2006: and Hillsboro, Kan., in 2008. Two years ago, Conection 2010 was held in Vancouver, BC, as part of the North American celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
This summer, delegates and guests will become acquainted with the five Omaha congregations that serve inner city, suburban and Spanish-language communities.
Friday afternoon, convention volunteers will serve Omaha’s downtown neighborhood under the direction of Stephen Stout, Good Neighbor Ministries (GNM) director and a member of Faith Bible Church. Faith Bible Church established GNM in 1966 as a separate nonprofit organization. GNM serves a 15- by 15-block area that is home to about 10,000 people. Through a pool of volunteers, GNM offers such services as yard care, snow shoveling, “Life Skills” classes, food assistance and Bible studies while building relationships that will connect volunteers to those who need encouragement and to verbally share the gospel.
Bus tours of the five Omaha churches are planned for Saturday afternoon. Tour goers will hear from Faith Bible Church, an inner-city congregation; two Hispanic congregations—Iglesia Agua Viva and Iglesia Manatial de Agua Viva; and two suburban church plants—Shadow Lake in Papillion and Stony Brook in Millard. The tours will include history and information about the city and a testimony, video or presentation at each church site.
Children’s activities will resume following the two evening meal while youth will attend the Conection 2012 evening events.
Comedian Kenn Kington will entertain and challenge Conection 2012 attendees Friday night. Some may rememberKington from the USMB 2006 Pastors' Conference in Boone, NC. Kington has become one of today’s most soughtvafter comedians. He is the creator of The Ultimate Comedy Theater and has appeared on Comedy Central and numerous other cable networks.
Saturday evening, Alex Kendrick, associate pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., will talk about living as a faithful and authentic follower of Jesus Christ. For Kendrick, that commitment prompted him to co-found Sherwood Pictures, where he served as writer, director and actor for the company’s four movies. Kendrick has co-written three novels and the best seller Love Dare. Sherwood Picture’s most recent movie, Courageous, will be shown Friday night after Kington’s presentation.
National Pastors’ Conference
Prior to the national delegate convention, all USMB pastoral staff members and their spouses will gather in Omaha July 25-26 for the 2012 National Pastors' Conference. James L. Nicodem, author of Prayer Coach and pastor of Christ Community Church in the greater Chicago area, will be the resource speaker.
Nicodem will speak on spiritual disciplines and times of prayer will be interspersed throughout the two-day conference. Seminars and workshops, a concert of prayer and communion are also planned. Youth and children’s activities are offered during the National Pastors’ Conference.