ICOMB moves forward with mission partnerships

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ICOMB partners with MBMSI in “mission capacity building”

The International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) met in Asuncion, Paraguay, July 4-8 prior to Mennonite World Conference Assembly 15, with only Uruguay and Angola representatives missing. ICOMB is the mission and ministry partnership of 18 Mennonite Brethren conferences in 15 countries. Each conference sends a representative to the annual ICOMB meeting; Ed Boschman, U.S. Conference executive director, represents the United States.

The representatives spent significant time talking with MBMS International staff regarding “mission capacity building,” a conference’s response to the mission opportunities available in countries where Mennonite Brethren live. For example, 4,000 people groups in India have never seen a Christian; many parts of Europe have left faith behind.

In cooperation with ICOMB, MBMSI, the global mission agency for North American Mennonite Brethren, will seek to “help release energy and capacity to bring the gospel to the least reached people close to us.” MBMSI intends to come alongside MB conferences as they set up their mission agencies. The Global Mission Alliance, the Mennonite Brethren association formed several years ago to coordinate strategy and to share information in any joint MB conference mission endeavor, will serve as the central worldwide coordinating agency.

The ICOMB delegates rejoiced to see the successful completion of the ICOMB Confession of Faith study guide in English, Spanish and German. French and Russian translations will be completed this fall; the India conference is publishing in Telugu. ICOMB’s vision is for people to study the confession in small groups to reinforce the confessional values.

ICOMB has also completed a collected history of the Mennonite Brethren movement worldwide, ready for publishing in English, French, Spanish and German.

Dalton Reimer, of Fresno, Calif., reported on a groundbreaking consultation on education in May 2009 in Kinshasa, DR Congo. ICOMB members voted to invite Mennonite World Conference to continue as a partner to implement the 10 proposed actions. ICOMB also voted to endorse the “Mennonite Global Learning Network,” a ministry started by Reimer to engage long-term with this project. Reimer, of Fresno, Calif., is senior associate and faculty emeritus of the Fresno Pacific University Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies.

ICOMB affirmed a second global higher education consultation in 2011, as follow up to a 2007 event.

The 150th anniversary celebrations of the Mennonite Brethren Church are taking shape for 2010. The official ICOMB meeting will be held May 21 in Germany, with a trip to Switzerland and Ukraine to view the location of the origins of Anabaptism and the Mennonite Brethren. A second celebration event will take place July 12-18, 2010, in British Columbia.

Conflict in member conferences continues to be a concern. The delegates discussed how ICOMB might become involved in conflicted areas.

The financial report indicated ICOMB is enjoying good health thanks to the willingness of member conferences to contribute. The annual cost of meeting and of the executive secretary’s office is $60,000.

Mennonite Brethren conferences are located in Portugal, Germany, Austria, India, Japan, DR Congo, Angola, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Canada and the U.S. —from a report by David Wiebe, ICOMB secretary

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