Organizers planning seminars to educate and inspire regarding wills, USMB ministry
By Connie Faber
If you are among the seven out of 10 people who do not have a will, you are invited to attend one of nine Will Power events hosted over the next three months by USMB and MB Foundation (MBF), the U.S. Mennonite Brethren stewardship ministry.
Events are being planned for February through April and will be held in Corn and Enid Okla.; Wichita and Hillsboro, Kan.; Huron SD; and Bakersfield, Reedley, Fresno and Lodi Calif. Although planners are specifically inviting those over the age of 65, everyone is welcome.
MBF staff members will be present to help attendees understand the ins and outs of preparing or updating a will, but the primary purpose of the Will Power events is to encourage individuals to leave a legacy gift that fuels ministry, specifically the ministry of USMB, the national conference of U.S. Mennonite Brethren.
“We are a conduit,” says Jon Wiebe, MBF president and CEO, “trying to help folks understand the benefit of leaving a legacy gift to help spur on USMB ministry.”
A MBF advisor will be present at every Will Power event to “unpack what it means to leave a legacy gift that fuels ministry,” says Wiebe. “We’ll share stories to give a taste of how others have or plan to fuel ministry and present some ideas to encourage others to leave a legacy gift.”
The prospect of increasing annual USMB income thanks to estate gifts excites USMB staff members. Currently legacy gifts provide only a relatively small income for the conference, says Ed Boschman, USMB executive director. USMB relies primarily on church contributions and additional staff fundraising to fund its ministries.
“This could be big!” says Boschman. “Imagine how our kingdom impact could be multiplied if we had a significant increase in resources…. Presently, all of our ministry staff has significant fundraising responsibilities. It would be wiser to release the team to their ministry assignments and gifting.”
Boschman adds, “We are on a mission in our increasingly pagan mission field, and unless we strengthen our base and grow our family, we will be unable to carry on in both the domestic and foreign mission mandate Jesus has given us.”
J Epp, USMB director of development, agrees. “Long-term funding gives the conference stability in revenue,” he says.
Epp says, “My hope is that the Lord will touch the hearts of those that attend and show them how they can partner with us for…life-changing ministry for years to come.”
Boschman and Epp will represent USMB at the Will Power events and will highlight the work of Mission USA in growing leaders, equipping existing churches and planting new churches.
Given the goal of planting 60 churches in 10 years, church planting is a USMB priority. “As we plant churches, we want to be able to provide for their needs as they grow to become self sufficient,” Epp says.
No estate is too small to provide a legacy gift, says Wiebe. “Everyone needs an estate plan and everyone can make a gift to ministry at their death,” he says. “God doesn’t ask how much we have. He simply asks us to be good stewards of what we have. This includes being generous with the resources he has entrusted to us.”
Research reveals that over 90 percent of Christians leave $0 to God’s work when they die, says Wiebe. “USMB and MB Foundation would like to encourage a different trend. Our experience is that the majority of USMB folks don’t have a plan for their resources when they die and if they have one, it needs to be dusted off and reviewed to make sure it still accomplishes their objectives,” says Wiebe.
All Will Power events are scheduled from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.; locations to be determined. Interested individuals are asked to contact MB Foundation for more information (800.551.1547).
Feb. 10 Corn, Okla.
Feb. 11 Enid, Okla.
Feb. 17 Wichita, Kan.
Feb. 18 Hillsboro, Kan.
April 14 Huron, SD
April 18 Bakersfield, Calif.
April 22 Reedley, Calif.
April 23 Fresno, Calif.
April 25 Lodi, Calif.
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