Delegates from the seven member churches of the North Carolina Mennonite Brethren District (NCDC) gathered for their 76th convention Sept. 15-17 at The Life Center in Lenoir, North Carolina.
The theme of the convention was, “Every Member Matters.”
Also present were three people from Grace and Peace Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, a church planted five years ago by an independent Presbyterian group. Grace and Peace Church is considering joining the NCDC, and its pastors and leaders have attended several NCDC events and met with various U.S. Mennonite Brethren leaders.
To begin the convention, district pastors and leaders met Friday at Mayflower Seafood Restaurant, where USMB national director Don Morris challenged the NCDC to become more engaged in the U.S. Conference of MB Churches, reminding attendees of USMB’s three core commitments of church multiplication and evangelism, intentional disciple-making and leadership development.
Jon Wiebe, president of MB Foundation, shared “Building Resources for Kingdom Impact,” presenting his “Top 10” resources that MB Foundation provides for districts, churches and pastors.
Friday concluded with a night for youth. The TLC youth choir sang, and Pastor Doug Cuthbertson delivered a powerful message, “Having the Right Perspective,” which centered around not allowing the culture to determine one’s worth or value but to look to God’s word for affirmation.
Saturday began with a welcome from conference assistant moderator Mike Mathes. Patrick and Clinese Bradshaw led a praise and worship time.
Each member church then gave an oral report pertaining to church activities from the previous year, including number of salvations, baptisms, Bible studies and worship services. It was noted following the reports that the number of salvations and baptisms needs to increase.
District treasurer Tyrone Sturgis presented the treasurer’s report for the 2016-17 fiscal year, noting that the conference’s finances were in the black.
Terry Hunt, district minister, presented the 2017-18 budget and challenged each church to not only help fund the NCDC but to remember USMB as well.
Workshops followed the reports: “Every Youth Matters,” by Jordon Sturgis; “Every Woman Matters,” by Venice Mathes; and “What’s New at USMB? A lot!” by Morris, who gave information about how the new vision for USMB is moving forward. He focused on the three core commitments, LEAD initiatives and church planting connections with C2C. Scott Thomas, C2C U.S. national director, gave a C2C U.S. update as part of the workshop.
Following a short break, three more workshops were offered: “What Matters Most,” by Mike Mathes; “Why Church Matters,” by Chuck Buller, director of advancement for Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary; and “Committed,” a youth workshop presented by The Life Center youth pastor, John Hodge, whose ordination as youth pastor also took place that weekend.
After lunch, Hunt took 10 guests on a tour of churches in the district: The Life Center, West End MB Church, Bethel MB Church, Laytown MB Church, Darby MB Church and Boone MB Church. The current pastor of each church gave a brief history of the church.
“This was very interesting information, to learn about the particular history of each of the churches, mixed in with the overall history of the NCDC which began over 100 years ago,” Morris says.
“Even those of us who have visited these churches over the past several years learned a lot of new things. These churches survived and thrived due to the unrelenting work of the people who attended them, pastors and church leaders.”
The main focus Sunday was worship, as The Life Center choir led the more than 100 attendees in praise and worship.
Morris and Wiebe gave greetings to the delegates and attendees.
Evangelist R.V. Brown from Tampa, Florida, gave a stirring message about the need to spread the gospel. He challenged every member to do whatever it takes to impact the body of Christ.
An invitation was given for people to approach the front of the meeting center to re-dedicate to being ambassadors for Christ. Two people indicated they were seeking a relationship with Jesus for the first time.
Hunt praised each pastor in the district for working hard and offered his continued support in the coming year.
To conclude the convention, Mike Mathes and deacons from each church in attendance served communion.
“What a beautiful way to end a weekend of celebration, taking part in the Lord’s Supper,” Hunt says.
From reports by Terry Hunt and Don Morris.