Hearing for yourself

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by Connie Faber, CL editor

A wedding I attended at the beginning of the summer reminded me why the things that we do together as U.S. Mennonite Brethren are important. At the end of the marriage ceremony the pastor invited an older woman from the bride’s congregation and a younger man from the groom’s home church to offer prayers for the couple.

These two individuals had served as Ministry Quest (MQ) mentors for the bride and groom when as high school students they participated in this yearlong leadership program. The purpose of MQ is to help young people understand God’s call on their lives. The fact that this couple asked their MQ mentors to be part of their wedding day told me how important this process was to them.

Ministry Quest is just one example of the things we do better together as U.S. Mennonite Brethren. Preparing young people for ministry in the church and in their chosen professions is a historical priority for us. And so owning a college and a university together makes sense; it’s something few congregations could manage on their own.

Working together to equip pastors, missionaries and church planters allows us to be more efficient, to develop our theology in community and to highlight the distinctive Anabaptist and evangelical theology we hold as U.S. Mennonite Brethren.

When we band together as local congregations, regardless of size and location, we have the resources to plant churches in our own country and around the world. Publishing online and in print is affordable when we work together. We can offer low-interest loans to churches when we pool our financial resources.

Delegates and guests who attended Conection 2012, the biennial USMB delegate convention held last month in Omaha, Neb., heard from about a dozen people that lead national and binational MB endeavors. Hearing firsthand reports is one of the benefits of attending a national convention.

We leave national events excited and inspired. We leave more familiar with the things we do together and better equipped to introduce Mennonite Brethren resources, programs and ministries to our home congregations. There is a good reason why when asked about a national convention many of us say, “You had to be there.”

Providing delegates with the information we need to champion Mennonite Brethren ministries in our home congregations is a key goal of biennial USMB delegate conventions. And Conection 2012 deserves high marks for accomplishing that objective. No, the business sessions weren’t perfect as there is always room for improvement. But delegates left Omaha excited about the work of USMB and its partner agencies.

And so I encourage individuals and congregations to begin planning now for the 2014 convention. Watch for announcements as to the date and location and then mark your calendars—both at home and at church. Start saving for Conection 2014. Biennial USMB conventions are expensive events, but the benefit to local churches is significant enough that it’s worth helping delegates cover some of the costs. Let’s encourage the congregations we are part of to set aside funds now to help our delegates attend Conection 2014.

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