Forty-four MB churches participate in Advent Conspiracy
MB Foundation press release
All across the Mennonite Brethren family, individuals and congregations joined the conspiracy. Young and old, singles and families, individuals and churches chose to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all during Advent 2010.
Advent Conspiracy (AC) is a grassroots movement with more than 1,000 churches in 17 countries participating as co-conspirators, choosing to be intentional in restoring the scandal of Christmas. In 2010, MB Foundation chose to promote Advent Conspiracy throughout the USMB, encouraging pastors to consider joining the conspiracy and providing a variety of resources and ideas for implementation in the local church.
“AC must have struck a chord as 44 of our churches participated in some meaningful way,” says Jon Wiebe, MBF president and CEO. MB Foundation is the U.S. Mennonite Brethren stewardship ministry.
MBF contacted participating churches in early January, asking them to describe ways in which they incorporated the themes of AC in their congregational life.
Twenty congregations decided to have an Advent Conspiracy offering culminate their AC efforts. “The offering is intended to be a tangible way of pushing back at consumerism at Christmas, replacing traditional gifts with meaningful acts of kindness and gifts that will really change the world,” says Wiebe.
- MB Mission clean water project
- Local food banks
- Coats for school children
- Financial assistance for The Life Center, a MB congregation in North Carolina
- Operation Christmas Child
- Community clinic
- Mennonite Central Committee projects
- Local Rescue Mission
- Water filtration systems
- Missionary support
- Transitional housing ministries
- AIDS victims
“Now these are Christmas gifts that will change someone’s life,” says Wiebe. “Quite a bit different than a Christmas sweater, gift cards, or socks! All told, 20 Mennonite Brethren churches contributed over $225,000 to these ministries and others.”
Wiebe continues, “Not only was money raised for some very worthwhile causes, transformation happened as well.”
Two teens decided to save the money they were spending in vending machines and took one of their peers shopping to buy some much-needed clothing. Another teenager was inspired to save $500 to free someone from slavery. A couple received a water buffalo from their kids for Christmas—their children made a donation in their name to a ministry that would purchase a water buffalo for someone needing it for their livelihood.
MBF received this note from one individual: “Between you and me, this year is the first I have felt like really celebrating Christmas in several years—after two deaths in our family that were extraordinarily difficult: the accidental drowning of our 2-year old grandson in the summer of 2008 and the loss of our 24-year old daughter-in-law to cancer in 2006. I do not write this to extract sympathy, please do not misunderstand me.
I have seen God’s blessings and mercy so very much through both these events in our family’s lives.God has taught me some huge lessons along the way. My lovely grandson and daughter-in-law are both in heaven, and I will see them again. There is much hope and anticipation in that reunion one day.
I tell you this so that you may understand why Advent Conspiracy is something that resonates so deeply in my heart, as I look for more meaning and depth to my Christmas season. It’s a very good thing, and what I needed very much to restore a spirit of joy in Christmas. So thank you for bringing this to our churches. It is exactly what this heart needed this year."
The writer’s sentiments were echoed by a pastor who said, “AC has challenged our thinking, stirred our hearts and jolted us out of the yearly Christmas traditions that, at times, distract us from worshipping fully. (We) will do this again next year, and my prayer is that more churches in the MB family participate next year."
Another pastor recognized that AC is about more than just fundraising. He summed it up this way: “This is the third year (we have) participated in AC and every year we continue to review and define what AC is really all about—while the offering amount"may" be a tangible expression (as gauged in financial terms ) of the success of the project we have come to the realization that AC is far more than just money and (we) are activelyfocused onintegrating AC into the life of the church family as a style of living and not just a transaction that happens at Advent season.”
Wiebe says, “This pretty much sums up what Advent Conspiracy is all about. Encouraging and reminding us to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All at Christmas and throughout the year.”