ICOMB: Convenção das Igrejas Irmãos Menonitas (COBIM)

AROUND THE WORLD: Getting to know the global Mennonite Brethren family

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COBIM's mission agency hosted an event in September 2022. Photo: COBIM

Mennonite Brethren in Brazil represent two distinct cultures and approaches to theology and worship. Still, Convenção das Igrejas Irmãos Menonitas (COBIM) walks together as one.

MB immigrants from Siberia and what is now Ukraine settled in Brazil in 1930 and formed a conference in 1960. This German-speaking conference began planting churches mostly among people with a German background. Meanwhile, MB missionaries from North America planted churches primarily among Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, and a second MB conference was formed in 1966.

Initially there were great differences between the two groups, especially in language and culture. Over time, some of these differences diminished, and the two groups merged in 1995, forming COBIM. Yet, the two groups had some difficulties coming together on doctrinal and practical issues.

One topic about which the traditional and charismatic groups diverged was the Holy Spirit. However, representatives from both groups agreed to talk together. Over meetings that spanned six months, they agreed to “recognize Christ in one another.”

Conference leader Paul Dück says the conference ultimately determined its unity was more important than each position. “We agreed to create a path, not too narrow but also not too wide, where both groups could live peacefully and cooperate” he says. “We started with what the Bible teaches about the topic. Each group had the opportunity to share about their understanding and the practical living of the explained topics.”

They used a process to learn from each other, staying in conversation. As a result of the discourse, “those in the traditional group agreed to be more open to the moving of the Spirit, while those in the charismatic group agreed that they could be more focused on the Word,” Dück says.

Unity within the church was maintained peacefully, based on coming together around God’s Word, with openness to continually revising understandings.

Today, COBIM counts about 8,000 members in more than 90 congregations, provides services to neighbors locally and sends mission workers into the Amazon, northern Brazil, Angola and other countries in Africa where Portuguese is spoken.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for the expansion of the MB church into all regions in Brazil, especially the most unreached areas in the country, like the Amazon and northeast.
  • Pray for outreach to all Portuguese speaking countries.
  • Pray for many new leaders, as mission work expands and new churches are planted.
  • Pray for strengthening the discipleship process of each church member, transforming them into multipliers. We were born to reproduce.
  • Pray that each member will have a strong biblical foundation.

Did you know?

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro includes the landmarks Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. Photo: Getty Images
  • Brazil is the largest country in the Southern Hemisphere and is 50 percent of South America’s landmass. It could engulf the European Union twice with room to spare and takes up more than 5 percent of the entire world’s land.
  • The Brazilian mens soccer team has won the World Cup a record five times.
  • About 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.
  • It’s estimated that between 30 and 100 un-contacted groups live within the Brazilian Amazon. This is more than anywhere else on earth! Some of these groups are hunter-gatherers, constantly on the move while others get by with subsistence farming.
  • Brazil has the largest community of Japanese (1.5 million) outside Japan. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908. Given that both countries’ cultures are very different, this might be one of the most surprise facts about Brazil.
  • Christ the Redeemer, created by Paul Landowski, is in the Tijuca Forest National Park. The statue weighs more than 635 tons and stands over 38 meters tall, while the arms are about 28 meters wide. The statue sits on top of Mount Corcovado, which towers an impressive 710 meters above Rio de Janeiro.

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