WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
May 2, 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:
*A Book Opened a Door
A Book Opened a Door
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
On a recent flight, I was reading Sara Mile’s autobiography, Take This Bread: A Spiritual Memoir of a Twenty-First-Century Christian. Toward the end of the flight, my seat mate asked me what I was reading. I showed her the book and gave her the briefest of summaries. “It’s about a journalist who walks into an Episcopal Church out of sheer journalistic curiosity. She’d grown up atheist. She found new life and hope and Jesus at the communion table. Now she’s a deacon feeding hundreds of people through their food pantry.”
“Huh,” she responded, sounding skeptical. “Sounds like something my mother’s book club would like.”
“Um, maybe,” I ventured. Then I let her read a paragraph about the author’s troubled early life as a war zone correspondent.
“Oh, no! That’s not for my mom.”
Then my seat mate asked me why I was reading it. I told her that I appreciated the way that Miles’ new-found faith connected with her life in very practical, and frankly, very complex ways as she recognized the connections between physical hunger, and feeding others, and the way God feeds and nurtures us.
This woman’s experience seems real to me,” I said. “It’s not an easy, fluffy faith.”
“Huh.” My seat mate looked more thoughtful and fell silent.
I thought the conversation was over, because our flight was coming to an end, then she asked me where I was headed to, and I asked her the same. As we talked about our homes and families, all of a sudden she told me about her recent experience in Easter worship with her mother, which had not been a positive one. I asked what might have been more meaningful to her at Easter worship?
“Maybe talking about hope on Easter!” Then she got teary as she talked about her dad’s recent death. Suddenly, we were deep into the spiritual concerns of life, death, and new life. I was grateful for the chance to listen and minister to my seat mate. But she wasn’t finished with her faith questions. As the plane touched down, she asked,
“Do you really think there are churches that are real?”
“Yes, I do. I’ve been part of several.”
“Who did you say you’re with again?”
“Mennonite Church USA.”
“Huh,” and she smiled.
A book opened a door to a missional conversation. We never know when the Holy Spirit might nudge open a door to a person’s heart and mind. You never know when you might be given the opportunity to “give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3.15). When we have the courage to tell our brothers and sisters what God has done for us, how the Holy Spirit has strengthened us and brought us peace, and how Jesus has given us new paths to walk in his way in the real lives we lead, more doors might appear.
Don’t be afraid. Be real. Talk about your faith and the hope that you have in Christ when you’re given the opportunity.
- To fulfill the goals of the 2015 Mennonite Church USA delegate assembly resolution, A statement of support for our Palestinian and Israeli partners in peacemaking,and to prepare delegates and congregations for the 2017 resolution at the upcoming convention in Orlando, a WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force has been developed. The attached letter from the Task Force gives reference to information to help Orlando delegates prepare to vote on the resolution.
- Survivor-Sensitive Resources: Resources from presentations at the “Congregational Ministry in the Face of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence,” event on April 29 are available by request. Also, Katherine and Peter Goerzen generously shared worship resources they developed for their worship series addressing the pain of sexual abuse and the journey toward healing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org request these resources.
3. Chaplains’ Breakfast: All WDC chaplains are invited to breakfast at the WDC Office on Tuesday, May 23, 7 am. Our discussion topic will be “My greatest challenge as an Anabaptist chaplain is…” Please RSVP to email@example.com May 16.
- The WDC Annual Assembly will be August 4-6 at the Doubletree Hotel Arlington DFW South in Arlington, TX.
**Detailed information will be distributed to churches in early June. Information is posted at http://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly as it becomes available.
**Churches, please be selecting your delegates (1 delegate for every 30 members or fraction thereof). You will receive a form on which to report delegate names in June.
**A bus may be chartered from the Newton, KS area, the cost of which would be dependent upon the number of passengers. Please reply to this email if you have interest in traveling to Assembly by bus, so that it can be determined if one should be chartered.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Hello, Nurse! Camp Mennoscah is looking for a nurse with a valid license for June 11-17. This position comes with a stipend or camper discount. Campers needs are usually bandages, a listening ear for homesickness, and medications dispensed. Please contact us at 620-297-3290or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s going to be a fun time!
- Thank you to our many presenters and attendees and committee members for the Camp Mennoscah Retirees Relaxation Retreat! It was a great time with great food made by Becky. We will see you all next year!
- Brave souls! What fun it was to see men and boys traipsing through the rain and mud at Camp Mennoscah this past weekend! We’re so glad you visited Camp Mennoscah and hope your socks have dried out. There surely can’t be two years of that much rain during Men & Boys Retreat, so we’ll be expecting sun and warm weather in 2018. See you soon!
Mennonite church announcements
1. Is the Mennonite Church USA Convention 2017 on your calendar? Registration remains open. Come to Orlando July 4-8 to celebrate “Love is a verb” with fellowship, worship and activities with Mennonites from around the country. The convention will feature top speakers, including Mark DeVries and Rachel Held Evans, along with a wide range of workshops and a chance to enjoy the Orlando sunshine. Learn more at: convention.mennoniteusa.org/registration/.
- Be in prayer for all the graduates of the various Mennonite-related colleges, universities and seminiaries who are finishing their academic work this month. Pray that they would be open to God’s leading as they follow their call on the next steps of their journeys.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117