WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
September 25, 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:
*A community of the living Word
A community of the living Word
by Heidi Regier Kreider
Between now and Mennonite Church USA convention in 2019, congregations and conferences in MC USA are encouraged to engage in Journey Forward, a two-year process of church-wide discernment growing out of the Future Church Summit held in Orlando in 2017. JF has two primary documents for church use: Renewed Commitments (a one-page document of core values and commitments) and Pathways (an interactive study guide). Feedback on these resources is invited through the online survey at http://mennoniteusa.org/journey-forward/. As part of WDC’s participation in Journey Forward, my Sprouts articles over the next several months will reflect on each of the three sections of Renewed Commitments – “Follow Jesus,” “Witness to God’s peace,” and “Experience transformation.”
The first commitment, “Follow Jesus,” says this: “As an Anabaptist community of the living Word, we listen for God’s call as we read Scripture together, guided by the Spirit. Through baptism we commit ourselves to live faithfully as Jesus’ disciples, no matter the cost.” There’s a lot to ponder in those two sentences! For starters, the phrase “living Word” jumps out at me. It implies that God’s Word is not static, rigid or irrelevant, but is dynamic, contemporary and life-giving. Certainly God’s living Word is reflected in the writings of Scripture, but the “living Word” is more than words written on paper (or words on a screen, in this day of digital technology).
The gospel of John says that Jesus is God’s Word made flesh, and the Spirit of Jesus continues to guide our study of Scripture today, even as we witness Jesus in the people and world around us. Thus, as part of our commitment to living as Jesus’ disciples, we must interpret Scripture – the written Word – in light of the person and work of Jesus. Following Jesus may lead us to interpretations of Scripture that challenge our previous understandings or prompt us to hear God’s Word in new ways.
The book Through the Eyes of Another: Intercultural Reading of the Bible (c. 2004, Institute of Mennonite Studies) offers an intriguing example of this. It describes a 3-year research study in which the story in John 4 of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman was studied by Bible study groups from different cultures, languages and countries on five continents. Interpretations were then exchanged between groups of different cultural backgrounds, making it possible to read text “through the eyes of another.”
As we read scripture together within the church community and as we follow Jesus into the world, we are also called to read God’s living Word “through the eyes of another.” For much of Christian history, scripture has been interpreted by and at the benefit of those who wield power and control. This has resulted in interpretations shaped by racism and white supremacy, colonialism, nationalism, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression and violence. In light of that, I encourage us to listen to scripture interpretations from other perspectives, for example from members of indigenous communities, people of a variety of different ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds, women, children and youth, persons of various socio-economic levels, survivors of violence and trauma, and others who have been marginalized.
We have numerous opportunities to listen for these voices – whether through daily encounters in our community or work, reading about current events and issues, or through relationships within our own congregation. I also encourage you to explore the WDC Resource Library, which has a wealth of Biblical study and interpretive materials. See http://mennowdc.org/library/ for the online catalog. As you consider resources, ask whether a variety of life experiences and viewpoints are reflected?
As an Anabaptist community of the living Word, may we listen for God’s call as we read Scripture together, guided by the Spirit, so that we might live faithfully as Jesus’ disciples – no matter the cost.
Oct 7 – Pray for Bethel College (North Newton, KS) as it celebrates president Jonathan Gering’s inauguration today, and give thanks for WDC’s longstanding partnership with Bethel in nurturing church-related higher education.
Oct 14 – Pray for pastors beginning a variety of new ministry assignments in WDC congregations this fall.
Oct 21 – Pray for God’s blessing and inspiration for all who gather at the WDC Year of Evangelism event, Telling the Jesus Story – Testimony Seminar, next weekend in Dallas, TX.
Oct 26 – Pray for WDC’s Stewardship Commission as they meet this week, and give thanks for the generosity of congregations, donors and volunteers who support conference and congregational ministries through gifts of time, prayer and financial contributions.
Oct 9 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
Oct 11-13 – MC USA Constituency Leaders Council, Chicago, IL
Oct 20 – WDC Reference Council (for WDC elected leadership groups)
Oct 25 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
Oct 26-27 – “Telling the Jesus Story” (Year of Evangelism testimony seminar), Dallas, TX
Oct 30 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
Nov 17 – WDC Healthy Boundaries Training 201, North Newton, KS
Nov 22-23 – WDC office closed for Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – MC USA Executive Board Special Session
Feb 9-10, 2019 – Know Jesus (Jr. High event), Hesston College
- Join God’s work through WDC! Your financial gifts help WDC provide coaching for church planters, youth leadership training and discipleship initiatives, devotional and Bible study resources, support for pastors and congregations in transition, training for child and youth safety in congregations, response to immigration concerns, and much more. Please consider a contribution to WDC, online at http://mennowdc.org, or sent to PO Box 306, North Newton, KS 67117. Thank you!
- Several WDC congregations and members are featured in a recent issue of Mennonite World Review, in a series of articles about the experiences of immigrants in Texas. To read the online article, see http://mennoworld.org/2018/09/17/feature/immigrants-find-refuge-in-texas-congregations/. Other articles are in the September 24, 2018, print version of MWR.
- The next Leadership Lunch will be on Thursday, September 27 from 12-1:30 pm at the WDC office. The topic is: “Understand the process challenges (Diagnose Situation)”. 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. (To join this meeting by Zoom video conference: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/226841242, Or iPhone one-tap: US: +16468769923, 226841242# or +16699006833, 226841242#, Or Telephone: Dial US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833, Meeting ID: 226 841 242
- Wichita’s Mennonite Church of the Servant and Aposento Alto Iglesia Menonita are sponsoring an outdoor Community Resource Fair on Saturday, October 6, 2:00-5:30 pm, at 23rd & Woodland. The Resource Fair will include tables with representatives from service organizations and the two churches, as well as children’s activities and a food truck. For more information, contact Pat Cameron at 316-371-8274 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- The West Zion Mennonite Church Concert Series continues with an event on October 7 at 7 pm. Featured performers for this concert include the following: Josué & Diego Dick, violinists; Open Road, a men’s a capella vocal ensemble from Bethel College; the Sunflower Trio, made up of Matthew Schloneger, tenor, Rebecca Schloneger, violin, and Ken Rodgers, keyboard; Ken Rodgers, organ; and Donna Stucky, piano. There is no admission charged for the concert; however, a free-will offering will be received. After the concert, refreshments will be served. West Zion Mennonite Church is located at 101 South Washington Avenue in Moundridge, KS. (For use in Sept. 30 and Oct 7 bulletins.)
- Prayers for Peace, a service planned by the Newton Mennonite churches, will take place on October 7 at 7 pm at New Creation Mennonite Fellowship. You are all invited to this time of scripture, prayer, music, and reflection.
- The WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force invites you to send a representative from your congregation to “Christ at the Checkpoint US”, October 15-18 in Oklahoma City, OK. Bethlehem Bible College, an MCC partner for many years, will send Bible teachers to this gathering of evangelicals. This is for those who believe that ” following Jesus with integrity means that our lives are formed by our love for God, the teaching of the Bible and a fearless life of discipleship in the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (Christ at the Checkpoint website). For more information, go to http://epesent.com/catcusa/about.php.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- We’re at Fall Fest! Camp Mennoscah will have a booth at Bethel College’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 6. The booth will feature monstrous monster cookies, water, and camp souvenirs for sale. Stop to say howdy, buy a cookie or 70th anniversary tee shirt and then head off to your next Fall Fest adventure!
- Fall Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats are filling up quickly! These retreats at Camp Mennoscah are are October 26-28 and November 2-4 and are a hootin’ good time to work on your scrapbook or your favorite craft–or just spend time relaxing with friends! Register online at campmennoscah.org! Further questions? Call 620-297-3290.
Mennonite church announcements
- Do you know high-school students with gifts for leadership and ministry? Through AMBS’s !Explore program, students in grades 10-12 can explore ministry and theology, grow in spiritual practices and listen for God’s call through a summer congregational internship and a Group Experience (July 9-25). Scholarships are available. Apply for 2019! ambs.edu/explore
- Call for submissions: Anabaptist Witness, a journal featuring global Anabaptist and Mennonite dialogue on key issues facing the church in mission, welcomes submissions for its April 2019 issue on “Mission in Conflict Zones,” due October 1. View submission guidelines online: www.anabaptistwitness.org.
- Mark your church calendars for MC USA’s annual Mennonite Heritage Sunday on October 28. Worship resources are being created by Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition members with the theme “Lament in response to the Doctrine of Discovery”, and will be made available on October 8.
- Read reflections on immigration justice work from across MC USA on the Menno Snapshots blog: mennoniteusa.org/lpjtag.
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