Leadership board sees bright future

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New staff members report on vision for ministry

by Connie Faber

While there were minimal decisions on the agenda when the U.S. Conference of MB Churches (USMB) Leadership Board met Oct. 8-10 in Denver, Colo., board members and staff left believing that the conference could well be on the verge of significant growth.

This sense of anticipation can be traced to the addition of three USMB staff positions, including a director of development, and the vision staff members have for their areas of responsibility, including Mission USA director Don Morris’ goal to plant six new Mennonite Brethren churches in 2012.

“We are daring to ask God for significant growth in our kingdom mission impact,” Ed Boschman, USMB executive director writes in an e-mail sent to USMB pastors summarizing the meetings. “We envision that happening as we ask God for his favor in planting six new churches this year … and partner with our existing churches to ramp up their effectiveness and impact….We anticipate growing our relationship with our Slavic congregations in a significant way in the next years and calling them into domestic mission with us. And so that we will have church pastors and staff for this enlarged ministry vision, we are enthused about the development of dozens of new leaders through Ministry Quest, our colleges and our seminary.”

Boschman set the stage Friday night for the weekend discussions when he asked the board and staff to imagine how communities would be transformed if 35,000 U.S. Mennonite Brethren would love God, love God’s church and love the world. He challenged the board and staff to be cohesive in their commitment to the USMB vision and mission, to communicate that vision and mission clearly and to remember that “action trumps everything.”

Staff reports from seven USMB staff members dominated the board’s agenda. Over the past 18 months theLeadership Board has affirmed the addition of 3 new national conference staff positions: social media coordinator, Slavic ministries director and director of development. This is the first board meeting at which all three positions were filled. Board members gathered around staff members at different points during the meeting to pray for them and their area of responsibility.  The group praying for Aleksandr Borisov is pictured right. 

The Leadership Board heard from Aleksandr Borisov, Spokane, Wash., who began working Aug. 15 as Slavic ministries director; Derk Madden, Collinsville, Okla., who began Sept. 15 as the director of development; and Myra Holmes, Denver, Colo., who began Sept. 16 as social media coordinator, replacing Justin Salters who first held the position. While Borisov, Madden and Holmes, all working part-time in their respective positions, reported that they are still orienting themselves to their new responsibilities, each staff member spoke enthusiastically about their vision for ministry. 

Mission USA director Don Morris recently returned from a three-month sabbatical. His enthusiasm for God’s desire that his followers’ dream big and Morris’ conviction that God will bless the planting of new churches was contagious. The Leadership Board affirmed Morris’ vision to fund and plant six new Mennonite Brethren churches in 2012. (Pictured left: Morris, second from left, and Borisov, center, meet with Leadership Board members in a subcommittee meeting.)

In other business, Boschman updated the Leadership Board on plans to initiate a new church-giving plan for funding the national conference and highlighted Ministry Quest, a program designed to prepare high school students for fulltime ministry. Boschman briefly reported on a variety of meetings and events he has attended on behalf of USMB.

CL editor Connie Faber and Donna Sullivan, USMB administrative assistant, reported on their areas of responsibility. Jon Wiebe, MB Foundation CEO and president, spoke to the board about ways in which MBF is prepared to work with potential donors who want to financially assist USMB.

The Leadership Board took action on two matters. They asked Donna Sullivan, USMB event coordinator, to explore sites for Conection 2014 and approved a revised budget based on prior authorization of new staff positions. The board discussed how best to select its appointees to the Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees as part of the seminary’s move to FPU. The board also talked about the upcoming convention, Conection 2012, and the need to provide appropriate resources to staff members as they communicate the USMB’s new vision for growth.

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