Int’l BIC leaders meet in Paraguay for third meeting of IBICA

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Aug. 11, 2009)
—The installation of Danisa Ndlovu, bishop of the BIC Church in Zimbabwe, as president of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) at its 2009 global assembly in Asunción, Paraguay in mid-July represented an historic moment for the global BIC Church. However, for Warren Hoffman and Don McNiven (moderator and general secretary of the BIC Church in North America, respectively), the highlight of their time in Paraguay came during the three days following the assembly, as representatives from BIC Conferences around the world gathered for the third time as the International Brethren in Christ Association (IBICA).

Executive committee members and other church leaders travelled from Canada, Cuba, Columbia, Honduras, India, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Spain, the United States, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to attend the meeting and fellowship together. Hoffman and McNiven served as representatives of North American churches on the IBICA executive committee. Others in attendance from the BIC Church in North America included Darrell Winger, executive director for IBICA, who provided overall leadership for the gathering, Chris Sharp, executive director of BIC World Missions.

During the three-day meeting, the assembled representatives approved formation documents and a constitution for IBICA. Based upon situations that arose in Nepal and Columbia over the last year, the group also approved a statement on how churches and Conferences should respond to threats from militant organizations. Finally, the committee established criteria for BIC congregations, associations (clusters of congregations), and Conferences (national churches) around the world. “The Church in North America has exercised this authority to this point, but now this responsibility shifts to all BIC (national) conferences, working together through IBICA,” states Hoffman. “It makes me think of Isaiah 43:19: ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’”

In addition to issues related to governance and other organizational policies, the meeting agenda included a discussion on the challenges facing the Church today; reports from leaders from each area of BIC ministry; times of worship and prayer; and a commissioning service for Terry Brensinger, who was appointed IBICA’s international pastor/teacher in early 2009, and his wife, Deb. “Danisa Ndlovu, who led that session, has a wonderful way of mixing simple African choruses, often with movement, with comments and prayer and made this time especially meaningful,” Hoffman shares.