US MBs study Articles 12 and 13
The board of faith and life (BFL) of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches convened its first national study conference Jan. 24–26 to discuss Article 12 (Society and State) and Article 13 (Love and Nonresistance) of the Confession of Faith, two articles about which U.S. MBs are in disagreement.
The study conference, held in Phoenix, Ariz., drew 174 participants, including 21 leaders from the Canadian Conference of MB Churches and 15 representatives of Mennonite Brethren and inter-Mennonite agencies.
Papers addressing Article 12 were presented by Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Terry Brensinger, professor of pastoral ministries at Fresno (Cal.) Pacific Biblical Seminary. Shafter (Cal.) MB Church pastor Roger Poppen and Del Gray, assistant professor of biblical and religious studies at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kan., gave papers addressing Article 13. The closing paper given by Tim Geddert, professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and a member of the USMB BFL, challenged participants to pursue peacemaking even as the conference wrestles with the current diversity of convictions.
In summarizing his impression of the study conference, Canadian BFL chair Brian Cooper highlighted one of the key convictions affirmed by study conference participants. “We are to be peacemakers,” said Cooper. “Not just to sit on the sidelines but to act as agents of God’s reconciling work in the world.”
The binational General Conference hosted prior study conferences on these articles in the 1980s. The USMB board of faith and life was formed following the divestiture of the General Conference in 2003.
—Connie Faber, editor, Christian Leader