WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
November 6, 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:
*O Little Town of Bethlehem
“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to all on earth!
These lyrics of a beloved Christmas song have been running through my head. Not because it’s after Halloween and time to break out the Christmas decorations, either. (Frankly, I do well to decorate our home for Christmas by the third Sunday of Advent!) No, this song has become a prayer in my heart and mind for the people of Israel-Palestine. October 15-18 I was privileged to attend the conference Christ at the Checkpoint USA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As I listened to Palestinian and American Christians tell accounts of what is happening in Bethlehem and the surrounding area today, I kept hearing with a sad longing, “O little town of Bethlehem.” I remembered my own sense of astonishment and grief as I saw for the first time the thirty-foot high wall separating the people of Bethlehem from friends and neighbors in other parts of the West Bank, as well as separating farmers from their land.
Today in Bethlehem there is little silence, though the streets are dark, at times, because electricity sometimes is turned off as punishment of all the Palestinian people for the desperate actions of a few. It doesn’t happen often in Bethlehem itself, because Bethlehem is a West Bank city that makes significant money for the Israeli economy through tourism. But, in other parts of the West Bank and Gaza, basic services of gas, electricity, and clean water are inconsistent or even scarce as one means of governmental control of the Arab population in Israel.
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee..”. People who follow Jesus today who live in Bethlehem and in other parts of Israel-Palestine are struggling to hope. They are caught in-between the political realities that exist in the State of Israel. What does it mean to live in the State of Israel, while not being recognized as citizens of Israel? What does it mean to be Christians living in a “Jewish State?” What does it mean to be living in a country under a government that looks more and more like an unjust, apartheid state with different laws and different choices, even different roads for Israeli Jews and Israeli non-Jews? The hope of Christ is real for Palestinian Christians. It has to be. Some Palestinian Christians speak of themselves as “Good Friday Christians awaiting the resurrection” of new life when God’s justice and mercy breaks forth for them. But, fears are real, too, as they watch their children being harassed daily at security checkpoints. Sometimes parents’ fears are realized as their children as young as 12 years old, are arrested and held without legal counsel for weeks at a time.
Yet, even in the midst of all of these daily injustices, the followers of Jesus who live in Bethlehem and beyond, will remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus and will again sing of the ancient promise of “peace to all on earth!”
Through our prayers, our study, our pilgrimages, and our purchases, may we be part of this vision of hope and Divine peace for all. Amen.
- Leadership training opportunity for 2019: Western District Conference and South Central Conference have been jointly awarded a Leadership Transformation Grant by the Kansas Leadership Center (Wichita, KS) to provide training slots in KLC’s three primary adaptive leadership training programs in 2019: Your Leadership Edge, Lead for Change, and Equip to Lead (see http://www.kansasleadershipcenter.org for more information). The focus for WDC/SCC’s grant is on adult leaders working with senior high youth; conference leaders (e.g. Board, commission, committee and task-force members), pastors and other congregational leaders. Applications should be submitted to WDC by December 5. Priority will be given to those who show a high degree of interest and commitment to implement the learning. Additional applications will be considered later if grant slots are still available. According to KLC guidelines only Kansas residents are eligible for grant slots, but a limited number of training grants for either Your Leadership Edge or Equip to Lead are available for WDC members beyond Kansas through a separate WDC fund. Kansas residents who receive a grant through WDC are encouraged to make a personal or congregational contribution to WDC, designated “KS Leadership Center Fund,” to help extend this opportunity to all WDC members. For more information see attached information sheet and application form, or contact WDC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-283-6300.
- The WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force encourages you to get to know your Jewish neighbors as our MC USA delegate resolution, “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” invites us to do. If you live near Wichita KS, you have an opportunity to take a fun first step by attending Congregation Emmanu-El’s Deli Day. Enjoy some New York-style Jewish cuisine, take a tour of the synagogue, and maybe make a new friend. Nov 11, 11 am – 5 pm (dine-in 11 am-2 pm), 7011 E Central, Wichita KS. Questions? Call 316-684-5148.
- MCC and WDC are co-sponsoring a Texas Borderlands Learning Tour May 5-10, 2019. The WDC Immigration Task Force encourages every congregation to send someone. Financially and spiritually support this individual.
- At the Mennonite Church USA Assembly in Orlando 2017, a resolution entitled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine”was passed by the delegate body. Along with the passing of this resolution, congregations have been encouraged to educate themselves on the issues and to examine how Mennonites understand scripture in light of the Holocaust. Whitestone Mennonite Church, Hesston, KS will host three presentations on Wednesday evenings from 6:45-7:45 pm with WDC members Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based) and Esther Koontz as they examine some of the issues related to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Nov 7 – Israel-Palestine 101: An introduction to the political situation, and connecting history to the modern day.
Nov 14 – The Bible and Whose Land Is It? Christian Zionism’s understanding of scripture in comparison with a more Anabaptist understanding.
Nov 28 – Israel-Palestine Justice & What Does It Matter to Us? Esther, a math and science coach with Wichita public schools, was required by Kansas law to sign a document stating she would not boycott Israel. Her refusal to sign the document prevented her from participating in a state training program, and resulted in a lawsuit by the ACLU protecting her First Amendment rights.
You are also invited to join us for our Wednesday evening meal, served from 5:30-6:30, cost is by donation.
- First Mennonite Church, 1161 E. Ave A, McPherson, KS, invites you to a German Dinner & Bake Sale on Saturday Dec 1 from 5-7 pm. The menu will be verenika with ham gravy, bohne berrogi with cream sauce, sausage, green beans, homemade sauerkraut, zwieback and cherry moos. The dinner is by donation and the baked goods are priced.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Online summer staff applications now open! For all you snazzy folks interested in being a full-summer staffer at Camp Mennoscah, the time to apply is NOW! Grab your quick-typing fingers and fill out an application at campmennoscah.orgunder Summer Youth Camps. This is for the positions of music, nature, office, crafts, lifeguard, and grounds. (Counselors and cooks, we’ll be in touch later.)
- Pizza Gathering with a touch of recruiting! Camp Mennoscah invites everyone interested in being on summer staff to Papa John’s in Newton at 6:15 pm-ish on Nov 14. We’ll shoot the breeze about camp (and other stuff), chat about being on summer staff, and eat pizza! Can’t make it? Check out the information and online application atcampmennoscah.orgunder Summer Youth Camps. Or give us a call at 620-297-3290 to speak to Olivia!
- Skate Night with Mennonite Camping Association! Those interested in being on summer staff or counseling for the 2019 summer at any of the MCA camps are invited to join in the skating craze at Skate South in Wichita on Tuesday, Nov 13, from 7-9 pm. Raffle drawing for camp swag at 8 pm! Sponsored by Camp Mennoscah, Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, Crooked Creek Christian Camp, Camp Friedenswald, Menno Haven and Amigo Centre.
Mennonite church announcements
- The 2-day course Managing Differences in Faith Communities will be offered Jan 3-4, 2019, by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College (North Newton, KS). See attached poster. Designed for both ordained and lay leaders, this course will prepare individuals to be change agents in building healthy, resilient, and peace-skilled congregations and organizations. Participants will build skills in communication and dialogue, decision-making processes, conflict transformation and more. Consider sending several people from your congregation to enhance the learning experience (and save in course fees). Registration is now open! Questions? Contact Doug Lengel, KIPCOR Office Manager, or Sharon Kniss, KIPCOR Director of Education and Training, by reply email or at (316) 284-5217.
- Bethel College Women’s Association (BCWA) invites you to enjoy Five Places of Christmas to be held Dec 1 from 10 am – 4 pm Located at Bethel College, Luyken Fine Art Center, BCWA’s theme is “Star of Bethlehem “. Children (and those young at heart) can make their own star ornaments. All can find homemade candies, peppernuts, baked goods, and handcrafted gifts. Other locations this year are Warkentine House, Carriage Factory Gallery, Kaufman Museum and the Harvey County Historical Society Museum and Archives. Please help with your presence and donations of baked goods, including peppernuts and candies. Donations can be delivered to Luyken Fine Art Center Friday Nov 30 from 3-5 pm Or Saturday, Dec 1 from 8-10 am. (It is requested that churches use this announcement in their Nov 11, 18, and 25 bulletins.)
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.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117