The USMB Leadership Board, Board of Faith and Life and National Strategy Team did not hold face-to-face board meetings March 18-21 in Denver, Colorado, because of social distancing guidelines put in place due to the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, each board held its meeting via video conferencing.
Implications of the coronavirus pandemic were discussed during the Leadership Board meeting March 20, attended by 16 of the 21 members. National director Don Morris reported on the various resources related to the pandemic that USMB is providing pastors, including two video conference discussions during which pastors shared about their responses to the restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus and presentations offering practical tips on doing church ministry online. USMB also developed a resource page on which links to various resources are listed.
In his report, Multiply president Randy Friesen told about twice-weekly calls with global leaders scheduled through April 21, a two-day webinar and a 12-day online course on “Living on Mission in Times of Crisis” that the mission agency is offering in response to the coronavirus.
In addition to discussing ways in which the pandemic is affecting local church activities, the Leadership Board discussed financial implications should church giving to the U.S. Conference drop. Morris was asked to develop reduced budget options in the event that church giving continues the current downward trend; the board agreed to review the budget again in 30 days. The board also discussed a possible timeline for cancelling USMB Gathering 2020 should restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic continue into July.
The Leadership Board made the following decisions:
- To allocate $50,000, the majority from an existing mission reserve fund, in 2021 toward Thailand 2022, a global event hosted by Multiply, the MB North American mission agency, that would bring together MB leaders for a time of storytelling and encouragement.
- To affirm Judy Lopez as the U.S. Mennonite Brethren representative to the Mennonite Disaster Service board of directors and Lynette Madrigal-Granados as the USMB delegate to the Mennonite World Conference Global Youth Summit to be held in Indonesia in 2021.
- To present Yvette Jones, Fresno, Calif., and Asres Belaye, Olathe, Kan., to 2020 National Convention delegates as nominees to serve on the Leadership Board; a third nominee is needed.
The Leadership Board heard reports from Morris on a variety of initiatives, the National Strategy Team (NST) regarding efforts to serve diaspora groups from DR Congo and Ethiopia and the U.S. Board of Faith and Life (BFL) on nominating new board members, projects related to helping local church staff and agency staff become more familiar with Anabaptist values, ongoing discussion on Article V Salvation and publishing projects. The NST met March 18 via video conferencing and BFL met March 19.
Leadership Board chair David Hardt gave an update on the Multiply Task Force’s external review of the mission agency. The report from Multiply’s Friesen included an update on the agency’s financial situation. District ministers also gave reports. —from LB minutes