Due to the realities and restrictions in place because of the coronavirus, the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (USMB) has canceled USMB Gathering 2020, its biennial National Pastor’s Conference and National Convention. USMB Gathering 2020 was scheduled for July 21-25, 2020, at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Independence, Missouri.
“When we gather, we love to mingle, hug, shake hands, laugh, sing and worship,” says Don Morris, USMB national director. “All of that would be compromised in some way. No hugs, social distancing of 6 feet, singing with face masks on—and all this with the potential that someone might unknowingly be present with COVID-19 and pass that on to others who then take it back home with them.”
Other factors that went into the decision were the unease those who would be flying to the event may feel and the financial challenges several churches are facing.
Instead of meeting face-to-face, some events may move to online platforms and be offered the week when the gathering was to occur. Possible options for online events include a business session and select workshops offered as webinars.
Morris anticipates that the convention theme of “Increasing Impact” will still be celebrated. “Praise God that we are united in spirit as we pray for one another and as we share through various means our stories of the exciting and wonderful things God is doing within our MB family—or, more simply, as we increase our impact, together,” he says.
USMB will issue registration refunds, minus credit card fees, to those who had pre-registered.