Shedding Light on Mariners’ Mysterious “Convene”
In advance of Global Outreach Weekend, Mariners Church hosted this year’s annual Global Convene Gathering from March 27-29, 2019.
This gathering of church leaders from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mexico, South Asia, Egypt, Haiti, Mongolia, Ukraine, Germany, and the United States first met as Convene in 2015 on the Mariners Church campus. However, the group’s origin dates back to 2008, when Bishop Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel, Kenya challenged Pastor Kenton Beshore of the United States to join the “global party” to which the Americans had not previously been invited. It was an invitation for the American church to engage, serve, and learn from those in the global church.
In Kenya, Pastor Beshore soon became friends with Pastor Murithi Wanjau, one of the senior pastors of Mavuno Church, Nairobi. He was particularly inspired by an “experience” integral to Mavuno’s teachings, called Mizizi (the Swahili word for “roots”), a 10-week spiritual journey that each member of Mavuno Church participated in with staggering results. Translated and adapted to the American context, Kenton introduced Rooted to Mariners Church in 2011, helping the people of Orange County to hear God’s voice and live a more passionate and purposeful life for Christ. Today, Mizizi and Rooted continue to reach thousands, locally and globally, having been translated into multiple languages and embraced by churches far and wide.
In 2012, Pastor Beshore and a small contingent from Mariners attended their first Fearless Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Described as “an annual gathering of church and marketplace leaders who are passionate about bringing godly change in every sector of society”, the Fearless Summit is an actual “global party” from which relationships grew quickly. In 2014, for example, leaders from Mariners Church joined leaders from Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo to launch Congo Unites, a reconciliation movement aimed at bringing together that country’s warring youth.
Convene, itself, has been held annually since 2015, first at Mariners Church, Irvine, then in Cairo, Eqypt, and most recently, back at Mariners Church. But what exactly is it?
Convene is a forum of global church leaders engaging unity in diversity, learning, growing, and serving together. According to Pastor Christian Mungai of Mariner’s Church, “We gather together as the Global Church to do together what we cannot do apart.”
Each year, the senior pastors from each participating country meet to discuss as particular topic of interest:
- 2015—How do we look at the world in a new way? How can we serve together, coming alongside what God is already doing in each of our respective countries?
- 2016—What and who is next? Invitation to bring in next generation leaders.
- 2017—What is a global family? Bringing together four (4) generations of leaders and figuring out how to move forward and grow together.
- 2018—Putting together a Convene Mandate. Start talking structure, strategy, initiatives, mission, vision, values, etc.
The theme for this year (2019) was “succession and collaboration”. More than 30 representatives (senior pastors and their upcoming or current leaders) from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mexico, South Asia, Egypt, Haiti, Mongolia, Ukraine, Germany, and the United States spent three days discussing succession and what could be learned from the recent transitions of two of their own in two different cultural contexts: Pastor Emeritus Kenton Beshore (who transitioned from Senior Pastor in 2018) and Bishop Oscar Muriu (who also transitioned from Senior Pastor in 2018). They also discussed potential initiatives that they all could “stack hands on” and move forward with, together, in collaboration.
But don’t let them make you think it was all work and no play! Well, except for those on Kenton’s team, who “worked” quite hard to win! The goal was to see which team could snap the most photos of themselves doing silly things in a pre-determined amount of time. Pastor Samuel from Haiti questioned whether or not every team member really needed to participate when it came to making “snow angels” in the sand while wearing his Sunday church clothes, but since he was on Kenton’s team, he didn’t dare say no. On the other end of the spectrum, Pastor Daniel from Mexico’s team opted simply for naming themselves “the winning team” so it didn’t matter if they actually won or not; they assumed the title would be theirs by default!
It was an action-packed three days that left Pastor Samuel breathless, but it was worth it. He got to see his dear friend Pastor Daniel from Mexico (whom he first met in Kenya at the Fearless Summit when they shared a room!) and to meet Mariners’ new senior pastor Eric Geiger and his wife Kaye. When he left, he said he was ready to go home to his own ministry and his 54 kids, but that he would be looking forward to the next gathering in 2020.