Senior adult gathering considered a success


MB Foundation hosts successful gathering for boomers, builders

By Ellynne Wiebe

Celebrate 2015, the first national gathering of boomers and builders hosted by MB Foundation, was held Oct. 2-4, 2015, in Overland Park, Kan. The weekend offered challenging messages, classic worship, timely workshops and plenty of time to renew old friendships and begin new relationships.

“The purpose of the weekend was to provide a safe place for people to celebrate God’s story, consider their own story and find ways to finish those stories well,” says Jon Wiebe, president and CEO of MB Foundation, the stewardship ministry of Mennonite Brethren in the United States.   

One hundred and seventy-two individuals representing 38 congregations traveled to the Kansas City area from Canada and 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and South Dakota. 


Sharing their stories, God's story

Keynote speaker Don Argue, a former president of National Association of Evangelicals, shared biblical observations and poignant stories to show what God has done and continues to do in the lives of people around the world, including international leaders and personal family members.

Argue told of the amazing things God is doing in places like China, Korea, India and sub-Saharan Africa, where people are coming to know Christ in amazing numbers. Argue encouraged attendees to continue to be part of God’s story and to realize that there is still much they can to do tell their story of faith to those around them. He challenged attendees to watch for the “surprises of Jesus.”

Attendees appreciated Argue’s messages. “He’s a good teacher,” says Kathleen Wieting, Huron, SD, of Argue. “He really inspired you to keep on. As you get older, it helps to hear that.”

Edna Janzen, Independence Kan., says, “The speaker was right on for us.”

Gaylord Goertzen, Hillsboro, Kan., says, “Don’s message was the highlight of the evening; it really spoke to me. His point about us working in cooperation with God—we cannot do miracles, but we can do our part,” says Goertzen, a retired USMB pastor. “That is how it has been in my ministry.”

In keeping with the event theme, “This is My Story,” several individuals shared their stories of how God has recently moved in their lives. Don Morris, USMB interim executive director and Mission USA director, and his wife, Janna, spoke of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult struggles in their family’s life.

Linda Rous, of Fairview (Okla.) MB Church, told of starting a ministry, Moccasin Children, while in her mid-60s. She initially resisted God’s call but then found peace and contentment through obedience.  “I’ve never experienced anything like serving my Lord and Creator,” said Rous. “I get to work with and serve the Living God of the universe!”  Rous encouraged attendees to trust God to know their gifts and to be willing to serve him wherever he may lead, even at their stage of life.

Pat Argue, wife of speaker Don Argue, shared her story of significant health issues, leading to major surgery and recovery. Through it all, Argue knew that God was touching both her heart and her mind to see her through the challenge. 


Highlights include singing, workshops and concerts

Another Celebrate 2015 highlight was worshipping through song. David Martens, director of contemporary Christian music at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kan., led the group in singing hymns and choruses with the help of accompanist Jenny Epp.

“It was like we were a large heavenly choir singing words of deep commitment to our heavenly Father,” says Connie Isaac, of Hillsboro.

Four breakout sessions were offered on Saturday morning. Larry Nikkel, Wichita Kan., spoke on living life in the fourth quarter; Winnie Bartel, Shafter Calif., addressed leaving a faith legacy for children and grandchildren; Wiebe of MB Foundation encouraged workshop attendees to learn to tell their money stories; and David Wiebe, executive director of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren, focused on seeing God at work in one’s own life and leaving a legacy.

Friday evening The Ball Brothers presented a concert filled with laughter, tight four-part harmony and inspiration. Saturday evening comedian Kenn Kington had the crowd laughing and crying as he reflected on the humorous and sobering aspects of one’s story.


Making new friends, renewing old relationships

Throughout the weekend, attendees had many opportunities to meet new people and renew old friendships. Some saw friends they hadn’t seen in decades.

“It’s been an awesome weekend—meeting new people, visiting and telling our stories,” says Tim Schmidt, Corn, Okla. “It’s going to be hard to go to work Monday morning!” 

Isaac, of Hillsboro Kan., says, “Getting together with brothers and sisters from across the U.S. who are walking through our same stage in life made for instant camaraderie as we enjoyed delicious meals together or struck up conversations using our name tags to help us remember people and places.”

Celebrate 2015 concluded Sunday morning with a time of sharing and communion led by Dennis Fast, pastor of Reedley (Calif.) MB Church. 

 “As old as I am, the Lord is renewing me from within,” Esther Wiebe, of Hillsboro, Kan., told the group. “Through these meetings, I have relearned that there is much to do, and I pray that Lord will continue to use me.” 

Lud Hohm, Yale SD agreed: “No matter how old we are, we have plenty to do.”   

In reflecting on their time at Celebrate 2015, Jane Schmidt, Corn OK, shared, “Tim and I have been so blessed by this weekend. We have been enriched greatly and will share our story of the weekend along with intentionally building our personal lives. The communication and organization as well as worship and enrichment has been awesome.”


Hosts, planning team affirmed

Gratitude was expressed to the volunteer Advisory Planning Team of Jack and Laverna Braun, Hillsboro; Erwin and Winnie Bartel, Shafter, Calif.; Dale and Eleanor Boese. Salem, Ore; Bob and Lynette Ewert, Bingham Lake, Min.; Dean and Loretta Jost, Aurora, Neb.; and Marvin and Tips Just, Reedley. 

 “God showed up big time and told his story anointing us with fresh power,” said Winnie Bartel in summing up the weekend.

MB Foundation was affirmed for holding Celebrate 2015 by several participants.

“Jon and the MB Foundation staff are to be congratulated,” said Argue in expressing his appreciation for MB Foundation’s role in hosting the event. “They have done a marvelous job.”

Harold Loewen, Yale, SD, said, “Thank you (MB Foundation) for using your ministry success and growth to live out your objectives and serve this constituency.”

Wiebe, of MB Foundation, says the goals for the weekend were met. “I am blown away by the response from those who attended,” says Weibe. “We had high hopes for this weekend but the gratitude and appreciation expressed by those who came was more than anticipated. We are honored to serve this generation.”

Pictures and additional information about the event may be found by visiting










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