North Carolina churches celebrate


District convention celebrates completion of The Life Center

By Connie Faber with report from Chris Eidse

Three years ago work began on The Life Center (TLC), a multipurpose ministry center in Lenoir, NC, and the North Carolina District Conference (NCDC) anticipated the year when its convention would be held in the new building.

The six NCDC churches built the center with the assistance of MB Foundation, the U.S. Mennonite Brethren stewardship minisry. As an investment in the ongoing ministry of the NCDC, Mission USA, the church planting and renewal ministry of U.S. Mennonite Brethren, is providing a monthly subsidy to help with building payments. “The Life Center is designed to have a community impact,” says Don Morris, Mission USA director.

Unfortunately city, county and state agencies could not agree on how best to address drainage issues on TLC’s sloping site, and the completed building sat vacant for 20 months. A drainage plan was finally approved in September and the entire project is now completed.

So it was with thankful hearts that delegates and guests gathered Sept. 18-19 at TLC for the 110th NCDC convention. Saturday was devoted to the district business meeting that included worship led by “Act of Praise” and reports from each church, Tabor College and Mennonite Central Committee. Church representatives voted to shift to a biennial convention schedule to encourage participation at the U.S. Conference conventions. Following lunch, USC executive director Ed Boschman and a local hospice staff member provided seminars.

In its business session, church representatives voted to hold a NCDC convention every other year and to encourage people to attend the biennial U.S. Conference convention.

Saturday evening Tabor College hosted a youth event. “We challenged the youth to take their future seriously,” says Chris Eidse, who served for the past six years as the NCDC youth pastor. “Jim Elliot (Tabor College representative) spoke about the importance of building a strong foundation at college.”

The convention worship service Sunday, Sept. 19, was the first official church service held at TLC. The NC Mennonite Brethren Mass Choir led worship and Jon Wiebe of MB Foundation reported. NCDC moderator Terry Hunt preached from Deut. 28:1-6 on “Blessed to Be a Blessing.”

The morning concluded with the annual “assigning of the pastors” and recognition of Earl Yount and Eric Lipford, two pastors that are taking a lesser role because of health struggles. Mike Mathis continues at Beech Bottom MB Church, Fred Howell at Laytown MB Church and James Wilfong at West End MB Church, currently involved in a building expansion. Terry Hunt will continue to pastor Lenoir’s Bushtown congregation with Bryant Corpening as associate pastor, and the congregation will meet at The Life Center.

A significant change is Eidse’s assignment to lead Boone MB Church and to partner with Mission USA in the area of staffing, outreach projects and ongoing counsel. “Boone MB has a long, rich history and is located in a college town and community that suits the progressive passion that Chris has for ministry,” says Don Morris, Mission USA director. “It’s an ideal place for a multicultural church that is missionally oriented.”

Morris Hatton, who was serving the Boone congregation, will serve Darby MB Church and continue leading a Bible study in Wilkesboro, NC, that leaders hope will develop into a new church.—Connie Faber with a report by Chris Eidse
LONG photo caption: A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new NCDC ministry center was held Oct.23.

The next day Bushtown MB Church, a growing multi-ethnic congregation that faced space restrictions at its previous location, held a praise and worship service in its new home and is now known as The Life Center.


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