WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
November 27, 2018
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:
*Ambassadors of Reconciliation
Ambassadors of Reconciliation
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
Note: This Sprouts article is the second of three articles on each of the sections of Renewed Commitments, the core-values document of Mennonite Church USA’s Journey Forward process. (For the article on the first commitment, “Follow Jesus,” see the Sept 25 Sprouts at http://mennowdc.org/wdc-sprouts-september-25-2018/)
The second section of Renewed Commitments is “Witness to God’s peace: We are called to extend God’s holistic peace, proclaiming Christ’s redemption for the world with our lives. Through Christ, God frees the world from sin and offers reconciliation. We bear witness to this gift of peace by rejecting violence and resisting injustice in all forms, and in all places.”
These words are fitting as I plan to attend the annual gathering of conference ministers in MC USA and MC Canada later this week. The theme of our gathering is “Restored to Lead: Being Ambassadors of Reconciliation in Times of Polarization,” with resourcing by Ched Myers and Elaine Enns. They are co-directors of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in Oakview, CA, and authors of the two-volume Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (Orbis Books, 2009). In their writing, they illustrate how Jesus models non-violent action, both by disturbing the “peace” (status-quo) of injustice and oppression, and demonstrating God’s true peace through nonviolent love of the enemy. Likewise, Jesus teaches restorative justice that holds offenders accountable for their actions, and focuses on healing the wounds of violence rather than simply punishing the offender – thus seeking restoration and wholeness for the whole community.
In addition to reading Ambassadors of Reconciliation, another assignment that we conference ministers have been given in preparation for our gathering this week is to think of someone we know who has been a role model of reconciliation for us. One person that comes to my mind is Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun who has worked tirelessly for many years in ministry against the death penalty and promoting just and redemptive responses to evil. She is author of the book, Dead Man Walking. I met Sister Prejean in Gainesville, FL, when I served as pastor at a small Mennonite church there. Our congregation was active in the anti-death-penalty movement that helped to sponsor her visit to the local community. I was moved by Sister Prejean’s powerful witness for justice and her down-to-earth authenticity and sense of humor. I was also inspired by her commitment to connect with those who believe differently, which she demonstrated by reaching out both to individuals charged with murder and to the families of murder-victims. In a more recent reflection on her website (https://www.sisterhelen.org) Sister Prejean writes in response to our current atmosphere of polarization: “Given our reality, how will we listen to each other across tribes, across ideologies, across class and race divisions, even across neighborhoods? Suburbanites talking with folks in the inner city? Business execs sharing with ex-felons just out of prison? Church goers in conversation with atheists and agnostics? Together we need to explore this and look for concrete ways to make it happen. I’ll keep listening. You keep telling me what you think. Thanks for listening.”
Sister Prejean is only one of many models of reconciliation. Who has inspired you to follow Jesus’ way of non-violent and active love? What attitudes and practices do you observe in their lives? How does your congregation reject violence and resist injustice, and proclaim Christ’s redemption for the world? As ambassadors for reconciliation, let us together witness to God’s peace.
Dec 2 – Pray for WDC’s Ministerial Leadership Commission as they support credentialed ministers and offer leadership training and resources.
Dec 9 – Give thanks for volunteers who share their time and energy to support the work of WDC.
Dec 16 – Pray for WDC chaplains and pastors who offer caring ministry to those seeking healing, hope and comfort.
Dec 23 – Give thanks for the gift of God’s Word-made-flesh in Jesus, and for the many ways in which WDC congregations make God’s love tangible in our world today.
Dec 30 – Pray for Iglesia Palabra Viva, a new WDC church-plant in Liberal, KS, as they reach out to share God’s love with their community.
- Giving Tuesday is today! – 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. You may make an online contribution at http://mennowdc.orgor send a check to Western District Conference, PO Box 306, North Newton, KS 67117. Thank you for your generosity!
- The next Leadership Lunch will be on Thursday, November 29 from 12-1:30 pm at the WDC office. The topic is: “Inspire a collective purpose (Energize Others). All are welcome to attend this conversation on Kansas Leadership Center concepts, even if you haven’t attended a KLC training. Bring your own lunch. This is our last scheduled leadership lunch. If you are interested in the possibility of continuing leadership lunches in 2019, please come on November 29 to share your ideas of what that might look like. To join this meeting using Zoom video conferencing from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/760454180.
- Know Jesus 2019! Join us on February 9-10, 2019 for Know Jesus at Hesston College. Know Jesus is an event to help our 6th-8th Grade Youth learn about their rich Anabaptist heritage and to promote growth in their relationship with Christ now. Early registration is open to January 26th – you can find all the details and registration information at http://mennowdc.org/know-jesus-2019/ or see attached document.
- First Mennonite Church of McPherson 1161 E. Ave A invites you to a German Dinner & Bake Sale Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 5-7 pm. The menu is verenika with ham gravy, bohne berrogi with cream sauce, sausage, green beans, homemade saurekraut, zwieback and cherry moos. The dinner is by free will donation and the baked goods are priced. Donations will go to the church and the Omega Project.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Christmas Gathering for all volunteers from all years of Camp Mennoscah! On December 15, at 2:30pm-ish, everyone who has ever volunteered at Camp Mennoscah is invited to come to a time of cookies, hot drinks, conversations, and games. Meet at the Retreat Center! We’ll do a white elephant gift exchange, too, so bring a “gift” of something you no longer want, if you’d like to participate. Questions? Call 620-297-3290 or text 316-293-7313. This is for all volunteers, from tree-trimmers and cooks to summer youth camps!
- EXTRA FUN!! Coming to the Volunteer Christmas at Camp Mennoscah on December 15? You are invited to arrive on December 14 at 5pm or later (and stay overnight) for whatever reasonable fun you can come up with in exchange for four hours of work the morning of December 15. Get a jump start on your game playing and conversations in the evening and work off your sleepies in the morning! We’ll have continental breakfast and a simple lunch for you. You must register for this in advance! Call us at 620-297-3290 or email at email@example.com later than December 10. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Thank you to all and everyone who gave to Camp Mennoscah this Giving Tuesday and through purchases made on Cyber Monday! We are grateful for your generosity and support. For those who gave new or increased gifts on Tuesday, your Camp Mennoscah magnet will be on the way shortly. You guys are the best!
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620