WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
August 1, 2017
A weekly communication for:
WDC Churches and Pastors
WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members
Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and
forwarded to congregational leaders and members.
WDC Sprouts is also available at: www.mennowdc.org (Publications)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*From the Conference Minister’s Heart
From the Conference Minister’s Heart
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
“Hope connects our story to God’s story.” This statement caught my attention recently, in an article entitled “How to live in hope” by Charles R. Pinches (Christian Century, July 19, 2017). It suggests that hope is an essential part of understanding who we are, where we have come from, and where God is taking us – a timely reminder in relation to the recent Mennonite Church USA convention in Orlando, FL, and upcoming WDC Annual Assembly in Arlington, TX.
At the MC USA Future Church Summit we shared diverse perspectives on Anabaptist history, identity and vision for the future. And at the WDC Annual Assembly we will celebrate WDC’s 125th anniversary, another occasion to reflect on how the past has shaped us and what it means for our future. Pinches’ article suggests that hope is at the core of these questions, and in doing so he pushes us beyond shallow definitions of hope. “We tend to think of hope primarily as a feeling that arises in our hearts,” he writes. “It comes to us in many circumstances: we hope to score the goal, pass the test, or recover from the illness.” But, he says, hope is more than simply the wish for or pursuit of something. In Pinches’ article I hear three deeper dimensions of hope that connect our story to God’s story.
First, hope “connects our past with our future. By hope we reach from one to the other,” Pinches says. When we are tempted to despair, lose perspective, and become overwhelmed with our own life or the realities of the world as we know it, hope is what keeps us tethered to the larger reality of God’s love and purpose. As Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” Pinches writes, “Hope for Christians has always involved a movement forward toward a unifying end, a share in God’s kingdom.”
Secondly, hope is born not out of comfort but out of difficulty. In fact, Pinches says, “Many small convenient comforts can oppose hope. If most things are easy for us, we are tempted to wish they all were easy.” He quotes a spiritual leader who worked among the poor of El Salvador, “Perhaps 90 percent of all the people who ever lived have struggled every day to keep the household alive against the daily threat of hunger, disease, accidents and violence. By distancing the non-poor from the daily threat of death, the benefits of modernity have induced us in a kind of chronic low-grade confusion about what is really important in life, namely life itself and love.” In this confusion, we mistake optimism for hope. But “hope is not optimism,” writes Pinches. “Optimism rests not on truth but on positive spin.” In contrast, hope arises from deeply rooted spiritual strength. “Hope’s work is not to deceive or trick; it is rather to hold on firmly in the midst of trouble…. If we hope in this life, it will be difficult.” We will struggle to cope with suffering and to resist oppression, sin and violence.
Finally, hope is sustained by companionship. “The difficulty in hope is borne through accompaniment by Christ,” Pinches writes. “Christian hope reaches for support from others who walk close by. Travelers in hope lean on one another.” We need each other, “to be encouraged and united in love.” (Colossians 2:2)
Our gatherings in Orlando and Arlington are opportunities to seek the presence of Christ, to reach for support, and to lean on one another in our common journey. These are also occasions to struggle together as we hear different interpretations of history, confront discrimination and oppression, listen to diverse perspectives and experiences, and commit ourselves to just and loving relationships and faithful witness. As we move forward I pray that hope will continue to connect our story to God’s story, as we are rooted and built up in Christ.
Aug 6 – Pray that the worship, fellowship and discernment that took place at the WDC Annual Assembly this weekend in Arlington, TX, will continue to bear fruit in this 125th anniversary year, as we are rooted and built up in Christ.
Aug 13 – Pray for Lynn Schlosser as she is installed today as pastor at Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church, a WDC congregation near Inman, KS.
Aug 20 – Pray for the WDC Stewardship Commission and Ministerial Leadership Commission, each gathering this week for their first meeting in the new organizational year.
Aug 27 – Pray for Stephen Wilcox as he is installed today at First Mennonite Church in Halstead, KS, that God will bless his ministry as a new pastor in WDC.
Aug 4-6 – WDC Annual Assembly, Arlington, TX
Aug 22 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
Aug 25 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
Sept 8-10 – Women & Girls Retreat, Camp Mennoscah
Sept 21 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
Sept 30 – WDC Executive Board meeting
Oct 9 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
Oct 10 – WDC Healthy Boundaries Training 101, Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Oct 28 – WDC Reference Council
- Offerings received at the 2017 Western District Annual Assembly this weekend will support the work of church planting in our conference through the Church Planting Commission. The Commission is dependent on contributions from individuals and congregations to make possible the planting of new churches in our conference. We are in constant contact with possible new church plants across our conference. We are currently exploring new church plants in Liberal, Kansas and Houston, Texas. We anticipate several other possibilities within the next year as we continue to be alert to God’s activity through WDC. We anticipate subsidies for each new church plant to be approximately $30,000 over a three-year period. Thus, we need contributions from individuals and partner congregations to make this ministry of church planting possible. We invite your generous contributions to the offerings during the assembly and encouragement of your congregation to become a partner church in Church Planting.
- What do adults need to know about the show “Thirteen Reasons Why”? Youth pastors, parents and educators are encouraged to attend a program sponsored by Prairie View Mental Health Center on August 7, 6:30-7:30 pm, at Shalom Mennonite Church, 800 E. First Street, Newton, KS. Three therapists from Prairie View will share information about the controversial Netflix show “Thirteen Reasons Why,” and talk about bullying and teen suicide. See attached flier for more information.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- The summer may be near the end, but activities at Camp Mennoscah continue. Thank you for sharing these announcements with your congregations and friends.
- Last Chance for the Young Adult Weekend at Camp Mennoscah! We’ll accept registrations until the last minute for the retreat, which is this weekend, August 4-6. Just give us a call at 620-297-3290or register online at www.campmennoscah.org! Scholarships can be requested as part of the online registration process. We’d love to have you join us!
- Most certainly! Join us for the Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah, September 3-4. Friends, family, and anyone affected by mental illness are welcome. Our retreat is a time to support each other, have fun, and enjoy worship, fellowship, and music. A variety of activities will be offered. Transportation from Newton, KS, may be available. Register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290!
- THANK YOU!!! Camp Mennoscah sends a huge thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered, repaired something, prayed, and washed laundry for someone who went to camp. You are an important part of our ministry. We can’t wait to have all of you at camp for a retreat, family gathering, or other fun activity.
Mennonite church announcements
SAVE THE DATE—IBA BENEFIT DINNER – The annual Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA) benefit dinner will take place Friday, September 15 at 6:30 pm at First Mennonite Church in Newton, KS. A smothered pork burrito dinner will be prepared and served by Chef Carlos Lujano. A short program will follow, featuring testimony from IBA students Vicky Velazquez and Jose Suastegui, a dance performance by the children of Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania and some words and greetings from our new director, Marco Güete. Dinner is by donation. This is a great opportunity for a Sunday School class, small group or individuals to come and hear how IBA is equipping Hispanic leaders in Mennonite Church USA for ministry. IBA is a program of Mennonite Education Agency’s Hispanic Ministries for Leadership Development and Pastoral Education. For any inquires contact Violeta Ajquejay at:VioletaA@MennoniteEducation.org or call 316-281-4342.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117