Wiebe affirmed as “right man for this season”
By Karla Braun, with files from Connie Faber
When Mennonite Brethren leaders from more than a dozen countries gathered May 16–19 in Liestal, Switzerland, for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) annual summit they accepted a new member conference and affirmed a new fulltime executive director.
David Wiebe was officially affirmed as the fulltime ICOMB executive director (previously known as executive secretary). Wiebe has served as part time interim since January 2011. Previously he was executive director of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches from 2004–2010.
“David is the right man for this season of ICOMB,” says Ed Boschman, USMB executive director and the conference’s ICOMB representative. “We need to strengthen our structures and systems and put in place some good policies and procedures to provide stability for the growth and increased impact that ICOMB will experience in the coming years.”
Bringing the total to 20, a new Mennonite Brethren conference based in northern Thailand was received as an official ICOMB member. Names and location of “K Mission,” led by MB Mission worker PK, are veiled for security reasons; 15 pastors are currently in prison for their faith.
Precipitated by several groups’ interest in joining ICOMB, ICOMB representatives discussed and approved a membership protocol for joining. The protocol includes acceptance of the Confession of Faith and participation in ICOMB meetings. Representatives of the Lithuanian Christian Free Church (LKB), a group interested in affiliating with ICOMB, and from MB churches in Ukraine were present.
Wiebe also reported on his fraternal visit with leaders of the Restoration Bible Church in Malawi. The Restoration Bible Church (7 churches with about 700 members) is an outgrowth of visits by the Disciple Making International (DMI) short term mission program of MB Mission.
The 28 ICOMB representatives approved a mission statement: “ICOMB exists to facilitate relationships and ministries which enhance the witness and discipleship of member conferences.”
The ICOMB Global Scholarship Fund Committee, which met May 15, reported to the group. In the past year, the fund distributed more than $100,000 to 140 students. ICOMB would like to double the current scholarship holdings to $2 million. The fund’s purpose is to grow leaders around the world to build visionary and sustainable local and national MB churches.
“We hope to see more student exchanges between schools,” says Wiebe.
ICOMB is also partnering with members in DR Congo to rehabilitate schools and to design a new Anabaptist curriculum for the Congolese MB conference’s 125 elementary and high schools. International and inter-conference meetings will convene July 10–16.
The meeting also affirmed the ICOMB program priorities and continuing work on Mission Capacity Building. “Everyone can learn from everyone else, if we can be open and also know what the goals are,” says Wiebe.
The 2012 ICOMB summit also included communion and a footwashing service.
“Experiencing the privilege of washing the feet of a real live risk taking apostolic missionary involved in our Kmuh mission will be unforgettable,” says Boschman.
“A highlight was the reminder that most of our global brothers and sister in ministry serve in much harder realities than we do, experiencing poverty, oppression, persecution and imprisonment was sobering,” says Boschman. “What little price I may pay in the line of service to Jesus is not good reason for complaining.”
Karla Braun is the associate editor at MB Herald, the Canadian Conference of MB Churches publication.