WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
November 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.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
*A foretaste of things to come
A foretaste of things to come
– by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
As many of us prepare to enjoy Thanksgiving feasts this weekend, I am savoring the word “arrabon.”
In ancient Greek society, “arrabon” was a commonly used term referring to a down-payment in economic transactions. In the New Testament, the Greek word “arrabon” (αρραβων) was used to describe the Holy Spirit, given to believers as a first installment, guarantee or pledge of the fullness of God’s salvation (see 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Ephesians 1:14)
The concept of “arrabon” was central to the Worship and Arts Symposium at Bethel College last weekend, on the theme Many Cultures, One Worship: A Foretaste of a Reconciled Heaven in a Broken World. Key-note presenters were David Bailey and the group Urban Doxology from a non-profit organization named Arrabon. Based in Richmond, Virginia, this worship ministry equips Christian communities with the spiritual formation needed to faithfully practice reconciliation in the midst of ethnic, racial and socio-economic diversity.
At the symposium, the word “arrabon” was used to describe the church as a foretaste of God’s kingdom, because it expresses well the “already/not-yet” quality of God’s reign on earth – and the role of the church in that. As Jesus taught us, the kingdom of God is here and now, among and within us. At the same time, Jesus taught his followers to pray with longing and hope for God’s kingdom to come “on earth, as it is in heaven.”
We know that the church does not fully live out the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God is not confined to the church. The cultural expressions and social organizations that we call “church” do not yet fulfill the totality of God’s vision for creation. Yet, the church is called to give the world a robust example, a glimpse of what it looks like, when we live according to God’s reign. Through creative worship, relationships of justice, stewardship of creation, and ministries of reconciliation, the community of faith gives visible expression of God’s shalom in the midst of a hurting and violent world.
At the conclusion of the symposium last weekend, participants were treated to the surprise gift of a lavish buffet of foods from different cultures: Curried chick-peas, hummus and pita, chai, couscous with fruits and almonds, corn tortillas, and more. Conversations and connections lingered on as people gathered around to sample the diverse flavors on the table. What a beautiful foretaste of the heavenly banquet that was!
As we enter this Thanksgiving and Christmas season – and in the year to come – I pray that all our feasts and each of our faith communities may offer a similar foretaste of things to come. God has given us the Spirit as an “arrabon” of shalom and we are an “arrabon” of the kingdom of God!
Dec 1 – Pray for God’s care and strength for members of WDC congregations and communities who struggle with grief, trauma or mental health concerns, especially during the winter and holiday season.
Dec 8 – Give thanks for pastors, musicians, teachers, and others who coordinate and lead special activities in WDC congregations during the Christmas season.
Dec 15 – Give thanks for the generosity of WDC congregations and donors, and pray for financial contributions to support this year’s budget goals and ministry priorities.
Dec 22 – As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, give thanks for the many ways WDC congregations embody the presence of Christ through ministries of hospitality, worship, compassion and justice.
Dec 29 – Pray for God’s joy and vision for WDC congregations, leaders, and staff as the New Year begins.
Nov 28-29 – WDC Office and Resource Library closed for Thanksgiving
Dec 13 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
Dec 23-Jan 1, 2020 – WDC Office and Resource Library closed for Christmas & New Years
Jan 7 – WDC Executive Board meeting
Jan 11 – Youth Lead Now, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Jan 21 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
Jan 23 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
Jan 24 – “Let’s talk… Women, Money and Faith”, Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Mar 3 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
April 17 – Healthy Boundaries 101 Training
July 31-Aug 2 – WDC Annual Assembly, Camp Copass, Denton, TX
Sept 26 – WDC Reference Council
- Giving Tuesdayis December 3 – Western District Conference invites you to join this global giving initiative! Share a gift with WDC during this season, to help our congregations Witness & invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, Dwell in just & loving relationships, and Connect to God’s mission in the world. Current projections suggest that WDC income will fall short of expenses for the current year, so your generous gifts are invited to help close the gap towards WDC’s 2019 budget goal! You may make an online contribution HERE or send a check to Western District Conference, PO Box 306, North Newton KS 67117. Thank you for your generosity!
- The Youth Ministry Committee of Western District and South Central conferences presents… Youth Lead Now, a one-day workshop designed for high school youth to enrich their leadership skills and deepen faith. Using the adaptive leadership framework from the Kansas Leadership Center and well known spiritual practices, we will equip youth with skills to be leaders among their peers, in their churches, and in their communities. Our hope is that congregations would partner with us by sending youth who have been affirmed for their leadership gifts or potential.
Date: January 11, 2020
Time: 9am to 4pm
Location: Faith Mennonite Church, Newton KS
Registration Fee: $50 (scholarships available upon request). High School Youth can register through the link: https://forms.gle/fWQ2BVjybMVtzKsC8
- Christmas Wish List: Give the gift of a resource this Christmas. Check out the library wish list through Faith and Life Bookstore (in store or at https://faithandlifebookstore.net/wdc-resource-library-wish-list/). All items will be added to the collection with a bookplate saying who the item was given in honor of. Celebrate the season with this unique gift idea.
- Shaping Faith in a Digital Culture is a joint conference between AMBS Pastors & Leaders Week and Deep Faith. It’s all in four days, March 2-5, 2020 on AMBS campus, Elkhart, IN! How do we recognize the gospel in our digitally-saturated culture? How do we attend to faith formation in our congregations and communities? Karen-Marie Yust, author of Real Kids, Real Faith,will be the keynote presenter. The early bird discount ends December 2. Register at https://www.ambs.edu/lifelong-learning/pastors-and-leaders-register Do you want to carpool? Please contact WDC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-283-6300.
- The newest edition of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theologypublished by the Institute of Mennonite Studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary is now available for check out at the Conference Resource Library. The pieces in this issue of Vision engage the broader theme ‘originating sins’ through the particulars of the Doctrine of Discovery.
- Advent begins December 1. Check out the Anabaptist Advent at Home resources for children and familiesat http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/advent-at-home/
- Christmas Brass: The 17-piece McPherson Community Brass Choir under the direction of Jerry Toews will be performing great Brass Christmas Music in the Historic Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church on Sunday, Dec 8 at 7 pm. Also performing will be the Goessel High School Elbiata Singers under the direction of Braden Unruh. During the service, a free will offering for the Goessel Ministerial Alliance will be received with proceeds to help local needs. Everyone is invited for this Festive Event! (GPS address is: 1304 K-15, Goessel) (Area churches, please run this announcement in Dec 1 and 8 bulletins.)
- The WDC office and Resource Library will be closed November 28-29 for Thanksgiving, and December 23-January 1, 2020 for Christmas and New Years break.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Giving Tuesday is coming up on Tuesday, December 3, and on that day ONLY, if you give a new donation to Camp Mennoscah of at least $20 or $20 more than last year, you’ll receive a jar of sandplum jelly, from sandplums harvested at Camp Mennoscah! If you make that new donation at least $100 or $100 more than last year, you’ll receive a jar of sandplum jelly AND a dozen zwieback. There are only 30 jars and only 10 dozen zwieback, so give to camp on Tuesday, December 3! Send a check to Camp Mennoscah with “Giving Tuesday” in a note, or give online at campmennoscah.org.
- Christmas for Volunteers! Camp Mennoscah loves to celebrate our volunteers and Christmas. We’re throwing a party for everyone who has ever volunteered at Camp Mennoscah in any capacity on December 14 at 2:30pm. Help with a maintenance project? Play piano for a retreat? Host a weekend? Counsel at summer camp? This party’s for you! We’ll provide some snacky items and simple drinks. Come play games and talk with fellow volunteers!
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.