As we approach the summer months, I encourage each of you to make plans to join us this July in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the biennial National Pastors’ Conference, July 24-26, and National Convention, July 26-28. The theme is “Celebrating our Diversity and Unity,” with a focus on what this means for us as we strive to make a real difference for Jesus in our communities, nation and the world. You can register online at https://usmb.org/2018-national-convention.
Accommodations for both events will be provided at The University Guest House and Conference Center on the campus of the University of Utah on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley. The Guest House is a nice hotel-type venue in a quiet area of the campus with many trees, a small creek, lots of history and numerous amenities. I think you’ll enjoy it.
On Friday evening, we’ll meet at the South Mountain Community Church (SMCC) Draper campus. This will be a special night highlighting the story and ministry of SMCC.
Meeting at convention is something Mennonite Brethren have done for decades. It’s a unique time for gathering together to share stories, hear updates, listen to quality speakers, take part in inspiring worship, do a little business, renew old friendships and create new ones. This is something that we do together to build strong bonds and relationships.
As we meet in Utah, I believe it will be a wonderful time of recognizing the diverse cultures and ethnicities that make up USMB. On any given Sunday morning, as many as a dozen different languages are spoken among our 200-plus churches across the U.S. There is a richness about that that we need to celebrate.
The seven different speakers we have lined up to present at the National Pastors’ Conference and National Convention express the variety of cultures that compose USMB. I’ve invited a couple of the speakers to use both their natural language and English as they speak. There will be younger and older speakers. I’ve asked them all to use stories of how God has been faithful to them and also to share from their perspective how we can faithfully be used by God to passionately spread the Good News to more people.
We have intentionally worked at keeping the cost down for those attending. Even so, we realize that it is indeed an investment to pay for the registration, accommodations and to make the journey to attend. I think it’s worth the outlay! Plus, Salt Lake City is a great place to be in July.
Most churches will send their pastors, but I sincerely hope that many others will attend as well, that we continue to gather in this collective way in order to build one another up and uphold relationships. There is a trend in America to forego meeting together, especially at denominational gatherings. I think this creates isolation, vacuums and disinterest for what churches in one location sense about churches in other locations. We need one another, and we need to simply be together at times.
So, I’m asking for us to consider this gathering a priority. Pastors and ministry leaders, please encourage your flock to attend. Come to Salt Lake City prepared to intermingle with others. Come prepared to help make our MB family even better. Come prepared to worship with those who make up this marvelous larger family of believers—as we join God in fulfilling his vision for us. Come inspired to learn how we might have increasing impact: together!