Do we need a national conference?


USMB serves churches in many ways

by Don MorrisUmbrella

Do we really need a U.S. Conference (USMB)? If it ceased to exist, would it make a difference? Let me begin answering these questions by emphatically saying, “Yes, it would be a huge loss if the U.S. Conference was not a part of the Mennonite Brethren family in the U.S.” And yet, I get asked these questions quite often. Sometimes an additional question is, “What does the U.S. Conference actually do?”

In answering these questions, I could point out that the things USMB provides for our conference of churches is a long, long list. Things that sometimes go unnoticed like the 501c3 tax exemption covering for our churches. We fund our national Board of Faith and Life (BFL) that provides theological oversight and provide significant funding for the National Youth Commission.

USMB is co-owner, along with the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, of MB Mission and provides four MB Mission board representatives. We also join with the Canadian Conference to subsidize the binational Historical Commission.

I could continue, and I shall: USMB provides a healthy subsidy to the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) delivering crucial ministry among our many national MB conferences all over the world. FaithFront, a youth leadership development program of Tabor College, receives substantial USMB subsidy. The list of smaller investments for ministry goes on and on.

Some of the larger initiatives provided by USMB include the Christian Leader (CL), the bimonthly magazine keeping us all connected and informed. In addition, the CL staff provides C-Link every two weeks, giving up-to-date news from the MB world. Snapshot is produced twice each month and sends out the latest in church planting news. Add to these social media communication like Facebook and Twitter and there are a lot of news bits flying to and fro keeping our MB family together. There’s more: We are creating a new USMB website to provide a wealth of resources, information and connection.

I haven’t yet mentioned Mission USA and church planting. There are currently 11 church plants receiving USMB subsidy and project management support. We are reaching countless people with the gospel.

Networking among our churches is a hallmark of the Future Story. In light of that, I have been sitting down over coffee with dozens of MB pastors simply asking, “How can USMB serve you and help you connect with other MB churches? How can we help you maximize your church’s God-given ministry potential?” I have had many meaningful conversations.

In my previous column, I mentioned that I’ll work hard at being forthcoming and not hiding information. So I’ll honestly mention that not every pastor is enthusiastic about the Future Story or even USMB. I’ve had a couple of pastors indicate that they are removing their church’s support because they don’t like the Future Story. My response has been that even if a church or pastor doesn’t resonate—at least yet—with the Future Story, there is so much that we do together that, as I said at the beginning, we would truly miss USMB if it were to cease to exist.

USMB is our MB family umbrella. USMB helps keep us all together. It provides many things, some visible, some not so visible, but all are vital. We’re planning to do much more as we serve our U.S. family of churches, increasing impact—together. We invite everyone and every church to jump on board!


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