Attend our family celebration this summer
The mission statement we have adopted as a national conference of churches begins with the words, “We partner as one family….” The USMB Leadership Board states its assignment as “leading, linking and serving” in our five districts and among our various ministries and institutions. That’s one reason why we recently completed a full week of back to back to back meetings in Arizona.
True, there are other reasons why it happened in Arizona. The weather was great. Some of us were able to fit in a professional sports event on an off evening. And it was fiscally responsible.
Phoenix means most of us can get there nonstop (read cheaper). Good deals on convention centers these days didn’t hurt either. It is efficient and cost effective to schedule the National Pastors’ Orientation right before a Board of Faith and Life (BFL) meeting and the annual National Leadership Summit right on the heels of BFL and USMB Leadership Board meetings immediately following the Summit. After all, frugality is one of our values.
It is clear to me that investing a week in this way helped us make progress in the “partnering as one family” part of our mission statement. Because we are largely decentralized and geographically disparate, it is extra important for us to significantly connect in some recurring ways.
As a result of being scattered across the nation, there is also a strong likelihood that we begin to think somewhat provincially or even territorially. Rubbing shoulders and sharing needs, dreams, concerns and fears and looking into each other’s eyes mitigates these normal tendencies and reminds us of our commitment to be genuine and effective partners in the mission to which we are committed: the transformation of individuals, families and communities. A lot of that good stuff happened in Phoenix.
It is really good to experience that spiritual family bloodlines run thicker than water. Sometimes process or decisions or individual thinking take us into high seas. It’s the nature of family. Thank God that kingdom and mission can win the day. We are committed to and indwelt by the Spirit of reconciliation and peace. Our meeting marathon in Arizona is evidence of this.
But the story is bigger than just us. Celebration 2010, the event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of our particular part of God’s kingdom family, will remind us of this. We will gather with brothers and sisters from around the world representing many of our 18 global Mennonite Brethren conferences.
This binational and global event will provide a forum for a growing partnership with the entire International Community of Mennonite Brethren. We will hear from preachers who are the progeny of those who first responded to the call of Jesus to be his followers back in the days of the first MB missionaries ever to go to faraway places like Africa and India. We will have the opportunity to revel in and praise God for the hand of blessing he has held over the kingdom faithfulness of our family for these 150 years.
Inside this week of birthday partying, we will gather for Conection 2010, our biennial national convention. Gracepoint Community Church of Surrey will host our event; the church is a 20 to 30 minute drive from the hotel and global celebration auditorium.
We will begin our national gathering Thursday, July 15, with dinner and an evening celebrating the life transformations that God is performing among us. Friday we will do the USMB family reporting and business.
It is not too late for you to join the party. This kind of opportunity only comes along once in a lifetime. OK, not even.
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