WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
December 4, 2018
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:
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
I don’t want to sound like The Grinch, but is anyone else tired of the lead-up to Christmas and the way that we’ve come to celebrate one of the holiest of days in our culture? God coming quietly to a desperate world in Jesus has become a desperate try to keep up with the Joneses. It has become a glitzy celebration of excess, fit more to worship the Roman god Bacchus than the Messiah. For others who are barely making it, or not making it at all, Christmas has become a time of shame and hopelessness. This advent and Christmas, can we instead “liberate Christmas from its cultural captivity and rediscover the truly prophetic story that speaks to the crises of our world today (Alternative Seminary)?”
The coming of God into the world is a radical reorganization. Jesus’ mother, Mary, sang about this.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed (Luke 1.50-53).
How can our Christmas celebrations celebrate this Jesus and the merciful, just work of this amazing God? If you have not seen the good, challenging ideas of Advent Conspiracy, please look them up (adventconspiracy.org), or check out the DVD available in the Conference Resource Library. Here are their simple and radical suggestions for how to reshape our advent and Christmas celebrations, so they more closely reflect the One whose birth we are celebrating:
· Worship fully, for Christmas begins and ends with Jesus
· Spend less, so you have more resources to share with those in need and on things that matter
· Give more intentionally and relationally
· Radically love others like Jesus did
God’s greatest gift of love was Jesus coming into the world. Jesus turned things upside-down and still does today. His is not a sugary-sweet, sentimental love. It is brave, compassionate love that wants everyone to have enough and longs for God’s presence to make a difference everywhere.
Come, Lord Jesus, come! A joyous and just Christmas to all!
- Looking for a unique Christmas gift this year? Consider buying one of the resources on the Conference Resource Library’s wish list in honor of your loved one! The Resource Library is excited to partner with Faith & Life Bookstore for this project. Visit our list & purchase online OR visit the wishing tree in the store. All items purchased will be delivered to the library and added to the collection in January. http://faithandlifebookstore.net/wdc-resource-library-wish-list/ (Churches, please consider running this announcement on December 9 & 16.)
- There’s still time! Even though Advent has begun there’s still time to checkout Advent/Christmas resources from the Conference Resource Library–come by, email, or call about our great Advent devotionals (for families and individuals), Christmas DVDs, and Christmas stories for all ages. firstname.lastname@example.org 316-283-6300
- You are invited to begin your Christmas season with us… Hopeful Blues Christmas Concert – Sunday, December 9 at 4 pm at Hope Mennonite Church, 868 N. Maize Rd, in Wichita. Refreshments served.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- The Christmas Gathering for All Volunteers is almost here! All counselors, all cooks, all summer staff, all volunteers for the past 70 years are invited to dash away all to Camp Mennoscah for a time of sugar plums and cookies, conversation and games, and a white elephant gift exchange on December 15 at 2:30pm-ish. Meet at the Retreat Center; no registration required! Questions? Call 620-297-3290 or text 316-293-7313. Families are invited, too!
- More fun than you can handle! If you are coming to the Volunteer Christmas on Dec. 15, you are invited to arrive on December 14 at 5pm or later (and stay overnight) for whatever reasonable fun you can come up with in exchange for four hours of work the morning of December 15. Get a jump start on your game playing and conversations in the evening and work off your sleepies in the morning! We’ll have continental breakfast and a simple lunch for you. You must register for December 14 in advance! Call 620-297-3290, text 316-293-7313 or email email@example.com later than December 10. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Camp Winter Wonderland Worship on Dec. 28 from 3-6pm! Join us for songs from evening worship at summer youth camps (praise and worship songs) at Camp Mennoscah in the Dining Hall. Enjoy classic *Sunday* camp sandwiches, hot chocolate, time by the campfire/fireplace, and the warmth that comes from being surrounded by friends at camp! Also, TP the Christmas tree! We’ll metaphorically TP our Christmas Tree with your donations of toilet paper or paper towels. Cash or checks for 4-square/gaga balls are welcome, too. RSVP to 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org December 26 so we know how many sandwiches to fix–and tell us about any food allergies.
- Camp Mennoscah is now accepting applicants for a quarter-time (10 hours/week) custodial position. The position starts January 2, 2019, and will remain open until filled. Contact Olivia at 620-297-3290 or email@example.com further information. (See also attached document.)
Mennonite church announcements
- Volunteer with SWAP: Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP), a program of MCC Great Lakes, has openings for volunteer groups. Groups of all ages are an essential component of SWAP’s ministry, addressing multiple challenges of low-income families in Appalachia, including home repair and personal need. If your church has never been to one of our SWAP locations, or if it has been a while since you have been to SWAP, please consider forming a group to come and experience a week at one of the locations in West Virginia or Kentucky. For more information go to https://mcc.org/get-involved/serve/volunteer/swapor call Angela Maggard at 606-633-5065. You can also check out the latest newsletter at https://mcc.org/media/resources/8302.
- Bethel College’s peacebuilding institute, KIPCOR, has seen a recent uptick in churches requesting help in resolving various conflicts. Because our own resources are limited, we’re offering an opportunity for congregations to help address this need themselves – KIPCOR’s semi-regular training course “Managing Differences within Faith Communities.” The two-day course runs Jan. 3-4, 2019, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., at KIPCOR’s North Newton office. Lead instructor is Sharon Kniss, KIPCOR director of education and training. Cost is $300 per person, or $250 with a non-refundable deposit of $75 made by Dec. 12. For congregations who send three or more people, the cost is $200 per person with a $225 deposit made by Dec. 12. Please register soon so we’ll know if we have the numbers to run the course. Online registration is at kipcor.org(Managing Differences within Faith Communities link), or call KIPCOR at 316-284-5217.
- Iowa Mennonite School (Kalona, Iowa) is seeking an energetic leader with vision to serve as principal beginning July 2019. Iowa Mennonite School offers a Christ-centered education within the Anabaptist Mennonite tradition. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a clear commitment to Anabaptist faith and practice; serve as spokesperson for the school; and advance the mission and vision as set by the Operating Board. The principal will have skills in educational leadership, interpersonal communication, fiscal management, and strategic planning. The principal will be a bridge-builder who fosters a positive community atmosphere. Individuals may apply by Jan. 1, 2019 at www.iowamennonite.org/joinourteam
- Bethel College, North Newton, KS, invites you to the Lighting of the Green, an annual Advent outdoor candlelighting service, Sunday, December 9, at 8:00pm, at the Green in the middle of campus. Children are welcome. Reception to follow in the Cafeteria.
- Pastors, chaplains, and other leaders: Consider attending one of these resourcing events at Mennonite Church USA-related seminaries in 2019:
—Pastors and Leadersweek at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Feb 25-28 on the theme “Loving our Neighbors in Tense Times.” For more information see https://www.ambs.edu/lifelong-learning/pastors-and-leaders
—School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Jan 14-16 on the theme “Thriving in the Stormy Seas of Change.” For more information see https://emu.edu/seminary/slt/. Note: EMS is offering a scholarship for bi-vocational pastors or pastors in smaller congregations who have insufficient continuing education funds. Applicants must have a conference minister’s recommendation. If you are interested in this, contact Western District Conference.