Mennonite Brethren leaders from more than a dozen countries gathered May 16–19 in Liestal, Switzerland, for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) annual summit. The 28 ICOMB representatives approved a mission statement: “ICOMB exists to facilitate relationships and ministries which enhance the witness and discipleship of member conferences.”
David Wiebe was officially affirmed as full-time ICOMB executive director (previously known as executive secretary). He served as part-time interim since January 2011, and as executive director of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, 2004–2010.
Bringing the total to 20, a new conference based in northern Thailand was received as an official ICOMB member. Names and location of “K Mission,” led by MB Mission worker PK, are veiled for security; 15 pastors are currently in prison for their faith.
Precipitated by several groups’ interest in joining ICOMB, the assembly discussed and approved a membership protocol for joining. The protocol includes acceptance of the Confession of Faith, and participation in ICOMB meetings. Representatives of the Lithuanian Christian Free Church (LKB) – a group interested in affiliating with ICOMB – and from MB churches in Ukraine were present. Wiebe also reported on his fraternal visit with leaders of the Restoration Bible Church in Malawi.
The ICOMB Global Scholarship Fund Committee, which met May 15, reported to the group. In the past year, the fund distributed more than $100,000 to 140 students. ICOMB would like to double the current scholarship holdings to $2 million. The fund’s purpose is to grow leaders around the world to build visionary and sustainable local and national MB churches.
“We hope to see more student exchanges between schools,” says Wiebe.
ICOMB is also partnering with members in DR Congo to rehabilitate schools and to design a new Anabaptist curriculum for the Congolese MB conference’s 125 elementary and high schools. International and inter-conference meetings will convene July 10–16.
The meeting also affirmed the ICOMB program priorities and continuing work on mission capacity building. “Everyone can learn from everyone else, if we can be open and also know what the goals are,” says Wiebe.
The 2012 ICOMB summit also included communion and a footwashing service.
“It’s a privilege to sit with global MB leaders and hear first-hand accounts of God’s work in challenging circumstances,” says CCMBC executive director Willy Reimer, who represented Canada at the meetings. “It seems we are moving into a new era of global ministry partners.”