WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
July 31, 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:
*Praying for WDC with open eyes
Praying for WDC with open eyes
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
I enjoyed gathering at WDC’s annual assembly with many of you this past weekend! In my report during the delegate meeting, I noted that I often pray for WDC congregations as I travel across WDC geography. To pray in this way helps me to entrust WDC to God and to “get on the balcony” to see how each part fits into the whole of WDC. Of course, while driving I pray with my eyes open – not only to see the road, but also metaphorically to see what is happening in WDC. My report at assembly listed some things that I see, and I will share these same observations in this article:
1. Congregations are participating in WDC’s Year of Evangelism, sponsored by the Resource Commission. 24 congregations sent members to the launch event in January, Mustard Seed grants are encouraging witness beyond our church walls, and another event will take place Oct 26-27 in Dallas, TX, focusing on Testimony. The Year of Evangelism challenges us to articulate Jesus’ good news in a world where the gospel has often been distorted. It is an opportunity to express the meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection through words, deeds and relationships with our neighbors.
2. Pastoral transition is happening in nearly 1/5 of our congregations. WDC staff and Ministerial Leadership Commission provide guidance to appoint interim and transitional leadership, and call and credential new pastors; and offer resources for continuing education, pastor-congregation reviews and discernment, accountability and support for ministers.
3. Congregations desire to strengthen a witness as Anabaptist peace churches – both through church planting and renewed vitality within existing churches. The Church Planting Commission continues to explore how best to support church planters, create partnerships between existing and emerging churches, and nurture thriving and sustainable congregations – both new and old. God is at work, touching lives and opening doors, inviting us to new adventures in faithfulness.
4. People respond generously when there is clear need and purpose. After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last year, members of WDC graciously shared volunteer time, compassion, prayers and financial support. Over $22,000 was contributed to WDC, and distributed to WDC congregations in the Houston area to share with neighbors and members. The Stewardship Commission encourages this spirit of caring, connecting and generosity to support both special projects and the ongoing mission of WDC and its congregations.
5. Congregations are engaged with immigrant and refugee concerns, responding to the threat of detention, deportation or separation of family members. Some congregations are offering sanctuary to immigrants and refugees, or hosting “know your rights” training and educational events. The WDC Immigration Task Force helps to network, support and resource congregations, and I joined several others from WDC traveled on a faith leaders’ delegation to Washington, DC, to advocate for just immigration policies. This concern will continue to be important in WDC, as Christ calls us to recognize his presence in the immigrant, neighbor and stranger.
6. Congregations are energized by current building and renovation projects such as a new sanctuary or fellowship hall, an elevator, memory gardens, a prayer labyrinth, installing showers or a handicapped restroom, and more. The most important thing, of course, is not the physical construction of these facilities, but the mission they represent: Hosting community groups, meals and children’s activities; access for people with disabilities; new forms of worship, prayer, and remembrance; hospitality and sanctuary. The body of Christ is not a building – yet I pray these improvements will enable the church to more faithfully embody the good news of the gospel.
7. Congregations and leaders seek resources for prevention of and response to sexual abuse. Healthy Boundaries training for credentialed leaders in WDC took place this past year in both Kansas and Texas, and we are exploring resources developed by Mennonite Church USA to respond to sexual abuse by non-credentialed individuals. WDC seeks to assist congregations to provide safe and supportive environments for those who are vulnerable or survivors of sexual abuse, and to provide resources and encouragement for leaders to address the complex issues surrounding sexual abuse.
8. WDC is a mosaic of cultural and language diversity. As a recent initiative to better serve the whole conference, the WDC Resource Library established a Spanish-language library branch in Texas. And last year WDC received a grant for a Language Interpretation Ministry Team. Our goal is to establish a team of persons who will receive honorariums to provide language interpretation for conference events and meetings, so that people who speak languages other than English may participate in-person or via electronic technology. We invite individuals from different parts of the conference who are interested in this to contact the WDC office. Linda Shelly, an experienced interpreter, has graciously agreed to be a resource person to offer assessment and orientation for those who want to explore this opportunity or develop their skills as an interpreter.
9. WDC exists not in isolation but as a conference of Mennonite Church USA. Congregations support workers serving with Mennonite Mission Network and students attending Mennonite colleges, use Corinthian Plan for pastors’ health insurance, denominational curriculum and hymnal resources, and much more. WDC sends representatives to MC USA Constituency Leaders Council, and our staff have intersected with denominational activities in significant ways this past year: Attending Gathering Live for youth leaders; coordinating a visit by the MC USA hymnal project committee to encounter cultural/worship diversity in WDC; attending the SENT church planting conference; meeting with other conference ministers to discuss credentialing practices; joining faith leaders’ delegations to Washington, DC, to advocate for just policies on immigration and Israel/Palestine; and serving on the Journey Forward reference council. With leadership changes and ongoing discernment of vision, it seems that area conferences will continue to take a prominent role in our denomination. WDC has many resources to share and much to learn from sisters and brothers across the church.
I give thanks for WDC, and I invite you to join me this coming year in praying regularly for the conference, its congregations and ministries, its members, leaders and staff. What do we see as we pray for WDC, and envision it through God’s eyes?
Aug 21 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
Aug 23 – WDC Leadership Lunch (Get Used to Uncertainty and Conflict–Manage Self)
Aug 29 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
Sept 7-9 – Women & Girls Retreat, Camp Mennoscah
Sept 8 – WDC Executive Board meeting
Sept 28 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
Oct 20 – WDC Reference Council
Oct 25 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
Oct 26 – WDC Year of Evangelism Testimony Seminar, Dallas, TX
Feb 9-10, 2019 – Know Jesus, Hesston College, KS
Aug 5 – Give thanks for the learning, fellowship, worship and inspiration that participants experienced at WDC Annual Assembly last weekend.
Aug 12 – Pray for Peace Mennonite Church, a WDC congregation in Lawrence, KS, as they dedicate a new sanctuary and building expansion today.
Aug 19 – Pray for the WDC Stewardship Commission as they meet this week to review the WDC’s financial activity, and encourage generous support and participation in the ministries of WDC.
Aug 26 – Pray for the WDC Church Planting Commission as they meet this week to support church plants and encourage partnerships between existing and emerging congregations.
- The WDC Executive Board has scheduledSaturday, October 20 as the day for a Fall Reference Council for all members of the Executive Board, Commissions, Gifts Discernment Committee, and their staff-liaisons. The Reference Council gathering will take place in the Newton, KS, area, beginning in the morning, possibly until early afternoon – the location and exact schedule are yet to be confirmed. This will be an occasion for sharing by each commission and board, and identifying ways to collaborate and address common challenges. More information about Reference Council will be shared as it is determined.
- Be Brave, Be Bold, Be You! Women & Girls Retreat 2018 – September 7-9 at Camp Mennoscah – There’s still time to register! Registration information is available online at: http://mennowdc.org/women-girls-retreat/ and (insert where they are available at your church). There’s something for everyone. Yoga, swimming, art, spiritual direction and much more! Don’t miss it! Open to all women and girls grade 3 and older. (See attached flyer.)
- MennoGrass 2018: Come join us at the Tabor Mennonite Church Park (891 N. Chisholm Trail, Newton KS 67114) on Sunday evening, August 26 for a fun evening full of food, fellowship and great music. There is no cost for the event, but please bring lawn chairs if you have them. Supper will be served beginning at 5:30 pm and music will be from 6-8 pm.Our two groups this year are Hopeful Blues and the Smoky Valley Bluegrass Band. Please feel free to post the attached posters at your church or in the local community. If you have any questions, please contact Tabor via phone (620-367-2318) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to seeing you there! (Local churches: please put this notice in your bulletins the next several Sundays. Thank you.)
- Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania, Newton, KS, is selling carnitas ($7.50/lb) as a fund raiser. To order, call Pastor Jaime Cazares at 316-212-1824. Pick up your order on Saturday, August 4 between 9 am -12 pm at 531 W. Broadway in Newton.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Camp Mennoscah’s Annual Camp Sing isAugust 12th! We’re celebrating 70 years of camp and an amazing summer of over 600 campers at our annual Camp Sing at Hesston Mennonite Church on August 12 at 6:30pm. A freewill offering will be taken to sponsor our 2019 summer youth campers as part of our extravaganza of singing, popcorn, generic pop, and fun times with friends. We’ll see you there!
- Coming soon to Camp Mennoscah! The playground equipment (2 slides and a climbing net) will be arriving at the end of August. Thank you to our generous donors! We’ll get them installed as soon as possible!
- Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah,Sept. 2-3! This retreat is for individuals affected by mental illness, including family members and friends. Come support each other, have fun and enjoy being at camp. Register online at campmennoscah.org or call us at 620-297-3290 for a brochure.
- Work & Play Camp at Camp Mennoscah! Everyone is invited to join usSeptember 21-25 (or any part of those days) as we work on fun projects and spend time building up camp and our community of faithful volunteers. No fee required, donations welcome! Register online at campmennoscah.org or call us at 620-297-3290.
Mennonite church announcements
- The installation forGlen Guyton as the incoming executive director of MC USA will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2-4 p.m. at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana. All are invited. A livestream will be available for viewing online at http://collegemennonite.org/watch-online/.
2. MC USA invites you to Learn, Pray, Join for Immigration Justice. Register for the webinar on August 13, join in churchwide prayer on September 23 (Peace Sunday) and support work for immigration justice at mennoniteusa.org/IJ.
- The 2018 issue of Mennonite Life, Bethel College’s annual online journal, is now live atml.bethelks.edu. It includes John Thiesen’s article on Exploring Race and ethnicity in Western District Conference (a workshop at WDC Assembly, August 5, 2017), several papers from the conference Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries, held at Eastern Mennonite University in June 2017, and from the Mennonites and the Holocaust conference at Bethel in March 2018; a senior seminar paper on 50 years of the Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus; a look at the closing of Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska; book reviews; and much more.
- Women Doing Theology 2018 has extended the deadline for proposals for both papers (mennoniteusa.org/papers) and workshops (mennoniteusa.org/workshops). Submit all proposals by Monday, Aug. 13. Women of color are especially encouraged to submit.
- The Mennonite, Inc., invites your original submissions for our October 2018 print magazine issue and corresponding online content focusing onPutting ‘love your enemies’ into action. For more info, see: https://themennonite.org/october-2018-call-submissions-putting-love-enemies-action/
WDC Sprouts announcement guidelines: Announcements pertain to Western District Conference (WDC) ministries and churches, institutions with which WDC has formal relationships, and Mennonite Church USA agencies and ministries.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117