WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
May 14, 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:
*Reflections from the South Texas Borderland Tour
*Pastoral news & transitions
Reflections from the South Texas Borderland Tour
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
(Kathy joined others from Western District Conference on a borderlands learning tour May 6-10 sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee Central States and supported by the WDC Immigration Task Force.)
I left with a lot of black-and-white self-righteous anger and certainty. I return with “a heart strangely warmed,” as Martin Luther once wrote, and a whole lot more room for gray in my own categories of who’s right and who’s wrong, of who’s kind and who’s cold-hearted, and of where Jesus might show up.
I left assuming that all white city, state, and federal workers wanted all asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants gone, or at least out of their sight, so they wouldn’t have to deal with “those people.” Instead, I heard an immigration judge who was following the law, but also speaking as one human to another to undocumented immigrants who were caught crossing the border illegally. He said to one Central American mother who was trying to join her husband and children in the States, “You are in a very hard place. Of course a mother will try to join her children, yet you broke the law. I’m going to do something I very rarely do. I’m giving you only probation and time served.” It meant she wouldn’t be behind bars for her illegal action. It also meant she wouldn’t get to join the rest of her family. Yet, this judge showed human kindness in speaking with her.
We also listened to an inspiring narrative of a woman “just doing her job” as an Emergency Services Manager for her city bus station in a border town in Texas. ICE agents regularly hold asylum-seekers in detention for 48-72 hours, then drop them off at either a non-profit like Catholic Charities where they can get a shower, a meal, a clean change of clothes, and a bus ticket, but sometimes they just drop them off directly at the bus station by the hundreds without transportation plans. The Emergency Services Manager went to her boss and said, “We have to do something for these people. They’re hungry. They don’t have clean diapers for their babies. They don’t have a way to even make a phone call, let alone have the money to buy a bus ticket.” So, she and her coworkers called everyone they knew who works with people in need and they put together a compassionate way to respond. Now asylum-seeking people who are on their way to be with family get snacks. Their babies get diapers. Their toddlers get coloring books and crayons. They also get to call family or friends to pay for their bus (or plane) tickets and to tell them their whereabouts. All because one woman said, “We have to do something!” Who’s paying for this? The city and those who donate to assist those who are passing through to safety.
I assumed that all Mexican and Central American migrants supported each other. I listened to an immigrant who’s lived in the States for quite a few years be incredibly angry that he had accidentally “aided and abetted” an undocumented migrant. “How could my [colleague] do that to me? Why did she ask me to give a job to a family member without papers? Why couldn’t that man just do things legally like I did? Yeah, it took a lot of years, but I did it legally!” This man is also a close friend and fellow church member of one of our MCC learning tour leaders.
Some media would have us believe that all Mexicans are drug runners who commit sexual assault. Instead, we heard the courageous story of two Mexican Mennonite pastors who have been standing up nonviolently and in the power of Christ to those who had become part of the drug cartels. There are many who are so afraid of those in the cartels that it’s become easy to coerce others to do as the cartel leaders want, whether through violence or “gifts.” Not these faithful pastors. The cartel leader came to the church and said they would be happy to offer “a gift of money to the church.” These pastors saw through them. “No, it would not be a gift. We do not want your money.” The man came back later, saying, “No one’s ever told me no. I want to know about Jesus.” So, the pastors invited him to be involved in the church. And he and his family did until it became unsafe for him to, then he fled. The pastors and their people continue to follow the way of Jesus, even in dangerous situations.
To sum up, I expected to see Jesus in the faces of young, scared asylum-seeking parents and very tired kids and I did. I also saw Jesus in the faces and stories of compassionate civil servants, angry immigrant attorneys, judges who are humane, and seemingly conflicted fellow immigrants. Wherever there is love, there Jesus puts in an appearance. Wherever love is, it’s not as black and white as I thought.
Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS – Associate Pastor
Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS – Pastor
Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania, Newton, KS – Pastor
Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS – Pastoral Team
News and Transitions
Asia Frye will begin as Pastor at Mennonite Church of the Servant in Wichita, KS on July 1.
Susan Jantzen will end as Bridge Pastor for Faith Formation at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS, on July 31.
Renee Reimer will begin as Associate Pastor for Faith Formation at Bethel College Mennnonite Church in North Newton, KS on August 1.
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, May 23 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!
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- It only gets better! The second Work & Play Day will be May 25 at Camp Mennoscah from 8:30am to 2:30pm. These single work days replace our fall Work & Play Camp. Projects will vary based on skill and ages. A simple lunch will be served. All ages welcome; those under 18 must have an adult with them. Let us know you’re coming–register online at www.campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290!
- Nurses needed for June 9-15 and June 23-29! Camp Mennoscah is seeking a nurse for Junior High I Camp (June 9-15) and Junior I Camp (June 23-29). These positions come with either a stipend or a full camper discount. Nurses need to be licensed in Kansas and be a RN (or equivalent). Please contact us at 620-297-3290 or email@example.com! Our nurses are greatly valued and much loved!
- Don’t miss out on the fun! Camp Mennoscah has openings for more summer youth campers for grades 3 to High School (fall 2019). Just go online to www.campmennoscah.organd click on Register Online at the top of the page. Weeks will be filled with worship, singing, Bible study, friendship bracelets, swimming and river play, and gobs of other fun stuff. Our theme is Peace Works: Empowering Peacemakers. Call 620-297-3290 for more information.
- Kitchen staff! Don’t miss out on this grand, wonderful opportunity to be at Camp Mennoscah! Contact us for dates. Kitchen helpers only need to be able to follow directions and have willing hearts & hands! Contact Olivia at 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Full camper discount and free tee shirt, too!
Mennonite church announcements
Retreat resource for pastors: Eastern Mennonite Seminary is offering a “remote” day-retreat series for pastors, with guidance offered via zoom teleconference, funded by the “Thriving in Ministry” Lilly Grant received by EMS. For more information, see the attached flier (which has been revised to include specific retreat dates and contact information for the retreat facilitator).
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.