WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
June 6, 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:
*Shying Away from (and Reclaiming?) the E-Word
Shying Away from (and Reclaiming?) the E-Word
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
For many years, I’ve been one of those followers of Jesus who didn’t use the word “evangelism.” I had my reasons. It had been too long associated with images that made little or no sense in an Anabaptist-Mennonite faith context. I had visions of people button-holing strangers with, “Brother/Sister, are you saved?!” or of well-meaning strangers passing out religious tracts or pamphlets. I thought of very wealthy TV evangelists, as well as crusader knights, whose methods did not mesh well with the message of Jesus as I had come to know and treasure it.
If we’re honest, maybe it’s more than just distorted or hypocritical images of proclaiming the good news that get in our way. I owe some of the following thoughtful concerns to the work of Susan Nienaber. Some of Nienaber’s thoughts are worth pondering.
Some of us find it difficult or disconcerting to articulate our faith. If someone asked us why we love God or Jesus, some of us would struggle to answer. Is it easier if I frame this question based on 1 Peter 3.15? How would you “give the reason for the hope that you have?” Either way, how do we talk about our faith story or how God gives us hope when we’re given the opportunity?
Some of us confuse evangelism with increasing church membership numbers, and then we may feel inadequate or even ashamed if we compare ourselves to other congregations. Confusing evangelism with church growth may also lead to new folks thinking we’ve invited them to our congregation to help balance the church budget—important, but not an invitation to Divine encounter and discipleship.
Twenty-four years ago, I read an article called “The Spiritual Poverty of the Anabaptist Vision.” Already in the early ‘90s, Steve Dintaman articulated the tendency of some Anabaptist-Mennonites to separate service from spirituality and social justice from the message and relationship with Jesus. The Church is so much more than a service club.
Mennonites need to reclaim evangelism, so we can proclaim and practice a holistic Anabaptist witness that is missional, active, reconciling, and Christ-focused. May God give us the courage to engage the world God loves with this message.
Nienaber, Susan, “Getting Comfortable with the E-Word,” Congregational Consulting Group, http://www.congregationalconsulting.org/getting-comfortable-e-word/, 6/5/17.
Dintaman, Steve, “The Spiritual Poverty of the Anabaptist Vision,” Mennonite Brethren Herald, 3/3/93, pp. 6-7.
- WDC Annual Assembly is coming! It will be held August 4-6 in Arlington, TX. Registration is now open! Complete information and registration materials are being mailed to churches today. Information and online registration also available at: http://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly.
- Going to WDC Annual Assembly? Leave the driving to someone else! A bus has been chartered from North Newton, KS to Arlington, TX for the WDC Annual Assembly August 4-6. Bus departs from Kauffman Museum in North Newton on the morning of August 4, and can also pick up riders at the Best Western in Park City. Anticipated return to North Newton is 8 pm on August 6. Complete information about Annual Assembly, the chartered bus option, and online registration is now available at: http://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly. Register early to secure your seat on the deluxe motorcoach! Seats will only be available until filled.
- Jennie Wintermote, Director of the Conference Resource Library, returns to work tomorrow, June 7, after her maternity leave. Her schedule in the library will be Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30-11:30 am, and other WDC staff can assist you when she is not here. Email your requests to Jennie anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to Jeanette Roberts who filled in while Jennie was gone!
- Come explore the “Wonderful World of Books” this summer at Story Hour at the Conference Resource Library! We’ll read books about books & reading, share some old favorites and do some fun activities too. Registration extended to Monday, June 12. Sign up today at https://goo.gl/forms/kQwNSzl9Bw8rr1q03
- Leadership Lunch!Our next Leadership Lunch (bring your own sack lunch) is scheduled for Thursday, June 15 from 12-1:30pm at the WDC offices. Each month, we are discussing a different Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) competency and how it relates to scripture, Anabaptist theology and practice, and our own areas of ministry. Last month, we reflected on “Identify who needs to do the work,” and this month we will focus on “Give the work back.” All pastors and ministry leaders from both WDC and SCC are welcome even if you haven’t attended a KLC training or one of the previous Leadership Lunches. We hope that these lunches will encourage and empower each of us to exercise more leadership for the common good in our churches and communities. If you have questions, please contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn (email@example.com), Rachel Siemens (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Phil Schmidt (email@example.com)
6. The June/July/August issue of WDC Garden has been mailed to churches. It can also be read online at: http://mennowdc.org/wdc-garden-junejulyaugust-2017/
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Branching Out at Camp Mennoscah! We are connecting with Christ, trying new things, and growing in our faith at our summer youth camps. It’s a great theme for a place where you can meet new friends, experience God in nature, and have a blast! It’s not too late to register. Go to campmennoscah.organd join the fun. Scholarships are available. Contact us at 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- You betcha! Returning campers bringing a first-time friend to Camp Mennoscah this summer get a free tee shirt–and so do your first-time friends! It’s a great way to share the amazing times you have at Camp Mennoscah with others. There’s the river, tasty meals, crafts, nature, music, worship, campfire and any number of amazing things you can do! Don’t let your friends miss out–register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290.
- Camp Mennonscah has open weekends for groups of almost all sizes. Contact us for available weekends at 620-297-3290or email@example.com. We are excited to see you!
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117