WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
March 26, 2019
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:
*Learn to Turn
Learn to Turn
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe in the good news.” These words of Jesus are often recited on Ash Wednesday, to accompany the sign of ashes along with the somber admonishment: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These are reminders of both our mortality and the good news of life in Christ, the paradox that we enter during the season of Lent as we seek to turn our lives toward God.
I was reminded of this paradox (especially my own mortality!) when I enrolled in “ski school” on a recent family trip to Logan, Utah, to visit our son in graduate school. Near his home is Beaver Mountain, a family-owned ski resort with friendly instructors ready to help beginners learn to ski.
My instructor was Bill, a patient and encouraging coach with 40 years of experience in ski patrol (which, thankfully, meant that I was in very good hands). Our lesson was entitled “Learn to Turn” (though I kept wanting to call it “Live and Learn” or – more ominously – “Crash and Burn”).
As we approached the gentle beginners’ bunny slope, Bill skied backwards in front of me, giving instructions: “To turn to the left, press down with your right big toe. To turn the right, press down with your left big toe. Again, press down with your right big toe – don’t let your left knee bend in and don’t dig your left ski into the snow – let that ski follow the turn… Don’t look at your skis, Heidi, look at me! That’s it – way to go!”
Finally, after I’d figured out how to make gentle turns back and forth, Bill announced that I was ready to go up the ski lift to the first green slope. “Now,” he said, “I want to tell you about the leap of faith.” Being a theologically trained pastor, I was eager to hear what he had in mind – but a little nervous too, as I imagined myself leaping off the lift at the top of the mountain and crashing down the mountain…. “The leap of faith,” Bill explained, focusing my attention back on him, “ is that moment when you press your big toe down, turn left and down the slope and pick up speed, and – instead of following the temptation to slow down by digging in the opposite ski – you allow the opposite ski to follow the same trajectory until it takes you sideways and naturally slows your speed to a level, manageable pace.”
Bill was right. Following his instruction felt dangerous and risky to me, yet it was the only way to navigate down the slope. But when I played it safe and tried to slow down prematurely, I lost my balance and fell.
So, what does all this have to do good news and mortality? The word “repent” essentially means “Learn to Turn.” It invites us to learn to turn away from the inclinations, actions, and attitudes that cause us to fall, and instead to turn toward the ways of Jesus. It means to keep our eyes on Jesus and listen to the instructions of Jesus, following the example of the One who knows from personal experience the way that leads to life.
Yes, this is risky indeed – Jesus said that in order to gain true life, we must let go of our self-centered ways of life. This takes a leap of faith, which is different than blind faith. Bill didn’t say to me, “Just close your eyes and go hang on for dear life!” (That would have been a “crash and burn” situation.) Rather, the leap of faith is a trusting faith where we keep our eyes on Jesus, and follow his instructions and example.
In this season of Lent, may we learn to turn, as we give our attention to Jesus’ words: “The right time has come and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!”
April 7 – Pray for WDC pastors and church members gathering at Camp Mennoscah this week for a retreat on “Who Cares About Climate Change? Pastoral Responses to Denial and Despair.”
April 15 – Pray for the WDC Annual Assembly planning team as they envision and prepare for this gathering scheduled for July 26-27, 2019 at Bethel College.
April 22 – Pray for the WDC Executive Board as they meet next Saturday to guide the mission and priorities of our conference.
April 29 – Pray for church planters in WDC as they listen for God’s leading and nurture new believers.
Apr 1-2 – WDC Healthy Boundaries Training
Apr 5 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
April 8-10 – “Who Care About Climate Change?”, Camp Mennoscah
Apr 27 – WDC Executive Board meeting
May 2 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
May 6-11 – MCC South Texas Borderlands Learning Tour
May 14 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
July 26-27 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Sept 14 – WDC Reference Council
July 31-Aug 2, 2020 – WDC Annual Assembly, Texas location to be determined
- There’s still time to check out Byron Pellecer’s (WDC Associate Conference Minister, Texas-Based) favorite books in the Conference Resource Library, on display until the end of March. He included some fantastic church planting and Spanish-language titles. View the list here: Byron Pellecer (Associate Conference Minister-TX Based)or stop by the library – remember we mail resources to anywhere in the conference.
- Did you see Shane Claiborne speak in Hesston, KS last week? Heard about his new book Beating Guns: Hope for People who are Weary of Violence? The Conference Resource Library copy is now available for checkout, stop by or log on to the library website to reserve it. www.mennowdc.org/library
- Training spots at Kansas Leadership Center programs in 2019 are still available through WDC’s Leadership Transformation Grant from KLC, based in Wichita, KS. If you seek effective ways to address challenges in your congregation or community, or to grow your own leadership skills, don’t miss this opportunity for adaptive leadership training with the full registration fee covered! For more information and application form, see attached document or contact WDC at 316-283-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on KLC programs and schedules, see https://kansasleadershipcenter.org
- Call for artwork from WDC congregations! WDC staff invites congregations to loan visual art pieces for temporary display in WDC’s office facility and Resource Library (in North Newton, KS), with these guidelines: Created by members of your congregation or local community, and representing your congregation or reflecting elements of the WDC Mission Statement (see http://mennowdc.org/identity/), or MC USA Journey Forwardthemes (see http://mennoniteusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/JF-_-DRAFT-Document-V3.pdf). Art pieces may be in various media including print, photograph, painting, children’s drawing, textile/fabric, sculpture, etc. Art pieces will be returned to your congregation after 6 months (or an alternate period of time to be mutually determined). To suggest an art piece for consideration, a congregational representative should first send a digital photo and written description to WDC at email@example.com. WDC staff will then coordinate with your congregation to receive and display the art pieces. We hope these visual gifts will provide ongoing glimpses and reminders of the diversity and beauty of WDC!
- Leadership Lunches continue on the fourth Thursday of each month. These lunch discussions are based on Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) principles, competencies, and behaviors, but please come even if you haven’t attended a KLC training. Case studies will be used to guide our time together. Come join us on Thursday, March 28 at the WDC offices from 12-1:30pm (bring your own lunch). If you want to join via Zoom video conference, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org), and you will be sent a link. We hope to see you there!
- Congregations – please place this announcement in your bulletin or share with your members: Western District Conference encourages your regular financial support for your congregation and for WDC as we share together in God’s work in 2019. In his book A spirituality of fundraising, Henri Nouwen writes “Fundraising is a very concrete way to help the kingdom of God come about…The kingdom is where God provides for all that we need. It is the realm of sufficiency where we are no longer pulled here and there by anxiety about having enough… Even a seemingly small act of generosity can grow into something far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.” Contributions to WDC may be made online at http://mennowdc.org or sent to PO Box 306, North Newton, KS 67117. Thank you for your generosity!
- Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, KS has two job openings – 1) Director of Faith Formation and Youth Ministries, 2) Outreach Ministries Coordinator. See http://rainbowmennonite.org/ for more information.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Friends, moms, dads, neighbors, grandparents, and other random volunteers welcomed! Camp Mennoscah is looking for kitchen helpers for the weeks of June 9-15, June 23-29, and July 14-20. No great skills are needed; following directions is all that is necessary (bring your sense of humor and flexibility). Contact Olivia at email@example.com 620-297-3290. Parents receive a camper discount up to full camp fees! It’s going to be an amazing summer with amazing volunteers!
- Retirees Retreat at Camp Mennoscah, April 22-24! We can’t wait to see retirees of all ages for a time of renewal! There will be sessions on everything from trips to Central America and Ukraine to Reader’s Theater and a steel drum concert. Take time for a break or go for a walk or have coffee and conversation. Singing and Bible studies included! Email firstname.lastname@example.org call 620-297-3290 for a brochure. Register online at campmennoscah.org! Bring friends!
- Work and Play Day at Camp Mennoscah coming soon! Our first Work & Play Day of the year is April 27. We’ll start work projects at 8:30am and end at 2:30pm, just in time for you to spend the rest of the afternoon playing. A simple lunch will be served. Please register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290 to let us know you’re coming! All ages invited; those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Men and Boys Retreat is April 5-7 at Camp Mennoscah. It is a retreat for all ages of men and boys. Brad Roth will be our speaker for the weekend. There is no pre-registration, but lodging is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Saturday supper is the first meal provided. Questions? Contact Kevin Neufeld at email@example.com 316-322-5515.
Mennonite church announcements
Your graduate’s first year after high school is crucial, and Service Adventure is a sure way to make it count. Service Adventure is a 10-month program where young adults gain real-world experience through placements with nonprofit organizations, and learn to live and grow in household community with peers and a mentor. Call Lauren at 574-523-3022 or visit the web to find out more: MennoniteMission.net/ServiceAdventure
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.