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History

The MB Story

HISTORY: During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, “Radical Reformation” movements arose all across Europe. Initially seen as a threat to the established Protestant and Catholic Churches, thousands were imprisoned, drowned, beheaded, or burned at the stake. Menno Simons was one of the few leaders who was not martyred, and his followers (“Mennonites”) adopted a stance of pacifism and withdrew to settle in isolated colonies in Russia. Over time, the colonies grew affluent, self-focused and complacent. In 1860, a few Mennonites experienced a renewal in their passion for Jesus, desire to reach their neighbors and their experience of the Holy Spirit. They became known as the “Brethren” and, later, the “Mennonite Brethren.”
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SPIRIT & WORD: The Brethren were dissatisfied with only hearing the Word of God and worshipping on Sundays. They began to meet independently during the week in small home groups for prayer, Bible study and fervent worship. Manifestations of great joy and enthusiasm accompanied the movement in its early stages. This was not generally understood, and the movement was suppressed by the leaders of the Mennonite colonies.

PERSECUTION & COMMUNITY: The Brethren met with criticism and rejection in the colonies and eventually became a separate, independent church. Mennonite elders opposed their independence and forbade them to meet. Persecution only served to strengthen the Brethren’s commitment, and they continued to meet in homes and in secret settings. Their community was characterized by a deep, warm affection and practical care for one another as family, and many were drawn to join them.  

MISSION: Facing mandatory conscription to serve in the Russian military and the pressure for ethnic minorities to conform to the dominant culture, many Anabaptists immigrated to North America. In subsequent migrations, Mennonite Brethren arrived as refugees, both to North America and other continents. Wherever they went, they eagerly planted new churches, united around a common mission to see the Gospel proclaimed around the world. In 1885, they formed the mission agency which is now known as Multiply. Since its founding, Multiply has sent out more than 2,400 long-term missionaries, and thousands more on short-term teams. Collaboration and relationship-building between the many global families of churches - called “conferences”- is facilitated by the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), formed in 1990.

VISION: With globalization and widespread immigration in this century, the world of mission has changed to encompass an “everywhere to everywhere” approach, in contrast to having Western missionaries lead in global evangelism and church planting. Multiply positions global workers in supportive roles alongside key national leaders, focused on building healthy partnerships with church networks in each country. Our tagline, together that the world may know, expresses our desire to partner with our MB churches and with the global Body of Christ, helping to make disciples, plant churches and expand the Kingdom of God through holistic ministry to the least-reached. 

The Multiply Story

In 2018, MB Mission embraced a new name: Multiply. The tagline of the new global mission agency was: together that the world may know. Still based in the Mennonite Brethren family, Multiply was called to facilitate church planting locally, nationally and globally. The vision was focused on making disciples, planting churches and growing partnerships.
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Rich History: Multiply has a rich mission history within the larger story of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church, which was the result of a fresh move of the Holy Spirit among Mennonites in Southern Russia in 1860. From the very beginning, MBs were characterized by a revitalized faith in Jesus and a passion for sharing the Gospel with others. This was seen first locally with their fellow Mennonites and Russian neighbours and then by sending missionaries to the ends of the earth, which first happened in 1889 when they sent missionaries to India. 

Due to persecution in Russia in the early 1900s, many MBs were scattered internationally and started new churches wherever they went. Eventually, in North America, their churches united around a common mission to see the Gospel proclaimed and churches planted around the world, so they formed MB Mission.

National Partnerships: In many global settings where MB Mission was working, more national leaders were taking charge and seeing fruitfulness like never before. In response to this, MB Mission began re-positioning their global workers in a more supportive role alongside national leaders. Increasingly, the new strategy was focused on building healthy partnerships with national church-planting networks.

A similar trend developed in North America as MBs continued to plant churches. In Canada, where church multiplication was particularly fruitful, MBs founded the C2C Network to resource their church-planting efforts across the country, which eventually expanded into the US as well.

One Mission: As MB Mission became Multiply in 2018, it was clear that the new agency was focused on one mission globally and that North America had become another region of that one mission. It was hoped that local and global mission would be brought closer together at a time when the world of mission was changing radically. Major people movements continued to shift the world’s population, with many from the least-reached people groups of the world moving to places where the Gospel was being proclaimed with freedom. As well, the church of the Global South had become a major mission force. The false dichotomy between the church and mission was being replaced by a growing understanding that God was on a mission and his missionary was the Church. Global mission was re-envisioned as being “from everywhere to everywhere.”

Togetherness: Along with this emphasis on one mission, Multiply’s passion to see the Church united and fully released into God’s mission was also becoming more prominent. The new tagline, “together that the world may know”, was inspired by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23.

Although the new agency was MB-based, it was focused on serving cross-denominationally to facilitate church planting locally, nationally and globally. Practically, the agency’s vision was to equip every Christ follower to live and share the Gospel and to help every church get involved in planting churches, and to establish and grow effective partnerships to facilitate multiplication.

At the heart of Multiply is a basic belief: God is on mission, reconciling the world to himself, and he desires to accomplish this through his family, the Church.