In 1988 MBMS International (the North American MB Missions Agency) sponsored the first-ever Mennonite Brethren Global Consultation on mission in Curitiba, Brazil. Some 400 delegates from more than a dozen Mennonite Brethren conferences (MB national church associations) were present. Although not part of the official agenda, conference leaders led by North American General Conference Moderator, Herb Brandt, discussed the possibility of forming a worldwide MB fellowship. This discussion recognized the need for direct conference-to-conference dialogue, rather than utilizing MBMSI as the only vehicle for such contacts. It was agreed that MB national church leaders would meet again in connection with the Mennonite World Conference Assembly to be held in Winnipeg in 1990.
Under the auspices of the Executive of the MB General Conference, that meeting took place in Winnipeg just prior to the C Assembly. It was attended by some 50 church conference leaders, pastors, and MBMSI administrators. Out of that meeting emerged the broad consensus to create the International Committee of Mennonite Brethren, in order to facilitate ongoing dialogue between the various national churches then in existence. In order to limit another level of bureaucracy and costs of future meetings, initial representation was to be from each continent, with the General Conference Moderator serving as chairman. Also the vision for such a global MB fellowship was to forge a cohesive identity – in part through regional consultations scheduled at three or four-year intervals hosted by invitations of specific national churches.
In 1990 Edmund Janzen (USA) was chosen as the Moderator of the General Conference (and therefore as chairman of ICOMB.) Together with Harold Ens, General Director of MBMSI, planning for the first meeting was begun, as well as the writing of the first draft of the bylaws and stated purposes of ICOMB. Since this fledgling entity had no staff (or budget,) Harold Ens and MBMSI Staff were crucial in assisting the development (funding) and planning procedures of ICOMB.
The first regional consultation (for Latin America) took place in Paraguay in July of 1992 at the invitation of Juan Veron, one of the representative members of ICOMB.
Briefly noted here, subsequent events included:
- Representation changed to each participating MB national church rather than on a continental basis. To date, there are 21 national churches.
- The establishing of a global MB relief fund to assist member conferences in emergencies or crises (floods, earthquakes, etc.)
- Several major global consultations sponsored by ICOMB and facilitated by MBMSI: in Buhler USA in July of 1999; two consultations on Higher Christian education in Fresno, USA in June, 2007 and in Winnipeg, Canada in June 2011. Both featured significant addresses and papers from international MB leaders.
- A new funding formula for member conferences intended to make ICOMB self-sustaining, based on a specific percentage of each conference budget
- The writing and completion of the Global MB Confession of Faith – begun in 2001 by an international task force led by Dr. Lynn Jost, and approved in 2004
- The appointment of Victor Wall, Asuncion, Paraguay, as the half-time Executive Secretary of ICOMB in 2005
- The change in name from International “Committee” of Mennonite Brethren to International “Community” of Mennonite Brethren, designed to accent the “fellowship and family” aspect of ICOMB
- The appointment of Dalton Reimer as ICOMB Education Facilitator 2007 – 2012
- The appointment of David Wiebe, Winnipeg, Canada, as the full time Executive Director of ICOMB in 2011
- The appointment of Victor Wall as ICOMB Education Facilitator, 2012 to present