WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
September 26, 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:
*From the Conference Minister’s Heart
From the Conference Minister’s Heart
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
In recent months I have encountered a number of writings and presentations on the inter-related issues of colonialism, war, and racial injustice. It is difficult to address these topics as a U.S. citizen who is a white, middle-class descendant of European Mennonite settlers – all of which represent privileged communities that have perpetrated or been complicit in these evils. Yet, I also believe that grappling with these issues is a crucial part of being faithful to Christ’s gospel of peace in today’s world.
At Mennonite Church USA convention, I attended a performance of Discovery: A Comic Lament produced by Ted & Co about the Doctrine of Discovery, and oppression of Indigenous Peoples. The play, which combines both comic and tragic elements, includes scenes in Kansas. For more information see http://www.tedandcompany.com/shows/discovery-comic-lament/. On a related note, the book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (2017) tells about the killings of dozens of Osage people in Oklahoma in the 1920s by non-Native Americans seeking to take over inherited mineral and oil rights on Osage lands, and the corruption of justice that perpetuated this tragedy within the geography of Western District Conference.
Several books on my reading list feature the experience of African Americans in the United States. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016) is a fictional account of slaves’ experience in the pre-Civil War era. Freeman, a novel by Leonard Pitts, takes place right after the Civil War, as slaves grapple with the promise of freedom and the obstacles that persist. A contemporary perspective is offered in Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015), written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings and realities associated with being black in the United States.
Issues of war and nationalism have also been on my mind. Last month I attended a presentation by Ben Goossen, author of the recently published book Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era that takes a new look at ethnic European Mennonite connections to German nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. This month I joined others watching The Vietnam War, a documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that includes perspectives of Vietnamese and U.S. veterans, family members and survivors, political leaders and protesters. And, I anticipate seeing the traveling exhibit Voices of Conscience created by Kauffman Museum (Bethel College, North Newton, KS). It will premier at the World War I Museum in Kansas City as part of a symposium, Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I Through Today (Oct 19-22), and then make its first stop at Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City. (http://rainbowmennonite.org/voices-conscience-traveling-exhibit/)
Encounters such as this open new perspectives and compel us to confront the disturbing realities of human sin, brutal violence, and evil. Tragically, this is not only history – these realities continue in our own time. Names in the news – such as Congo, Korea, Syria, Charlottesville, and Ferguson – tell of the ongoing trauma of ethnic and political violence, nationalistic rhetoric, and the brutal legacy of racial injustice. If that is all we pay attention to, we are easily tempted to despair, bitterness, or the paralysis of guilt or apathy.
Yet, the good news is that God has not given up on us. God continually offers us new opportunities to give and receive goodness, beauty and love – to participate in the life-giving work of truth-telling, healing, justice and reconciliation. WDC congregations offer many examples of this. On Sept 21, the International Day of Peace, churches in Newton, KS, jointly hosted a community prayer service. Congregations in Houston are assisting community members and undocumented immigrants following Hurricane Harvey. Other congregations are reaching out to military veterans, supporting refugees, preparing school kits for Mennonite Central Committee, visiting prison inmates, engaging in interfaith dialogue, doing clean-up and repairs with Mennonite Disaster Service, advocating for the survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence, caring for foster children, supporting ministries of conflict transformation, and so much more. In the face of human evil and sin, may we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God – the One who through Christ is our hope and source of peace.
October 1 – Give thanks and pray for WDC pastors and chaplains who offer leadership in congregations and other institutions across WDC.
October 8 – Give thanks for the generous financial support received by WDC to assist congregations in Houston to reach out to members and neighbors following Hurricane Harvey.
October 15 – Pray for WDC representatives Ryan Koch, Anita Kehr and Heidi Regier Kreider attending Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council this week in Kansas City.
October 22 – Pray for members of WDC Executive Board, Commissions, Gifts Discernment Committee, and staff as they attend Reference Council on October 28 to build relationships and share together in the work of WDC.
October 29 – Pray for WDC congregations supporting immigrants in their communities and families, and for those who offer immigration-related training and resources.
Oct 10 – Healthy Boundaries Training, Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Oct 28 – WDC Reference Council, WDC Office, North Newton, KS
Jan 19-20, 2018 – WDC Year of Evangelism Kickoff
July 27-28, 2018 – WDC Annual Assembly, South Central Kansas location to be determined
SAVE THIS DATE: November 19 – Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS in partnership with Western District Conference (MCUSA), MCC Central States and Bethel College is sponsoring the Kansas premier production of “DISCOVERY: A Comic Lament” produced by Ted & Co. TheaterWorks. This is a play about the Doctrine of Discovery, the legal framework that justifies theft of land and oppression of Indigenous Peoples. It finds unexpected humor at the crossroads of justice, land use, and Indigenous experience and nudges us to question our stories with honesty and integrity. Several scenes in the show have their roots in Kansas locations. The production will take place in Krehbiel Auditorium on Bethel College Campus on November 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm. Ticket information will be released soon.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Work & Play Camp starts on September 29! Everyone is welcome to pull out a pair of work clothes and join us for a few hours or a few days of projects and fun fellowship at Camp Mennoscah. Call us at 620-297-3290or email firstname.lastname@example.org! It’s a a great excuse to not do whatever is waiting for you at home!
- Meal Auction and Annual Meeting! Everyone is invited to Camp Mennoscah’s Annual Meeting on October 1 at 5:30pm at the dining hall. We’ll be celebrating Kelly Stucky’s 19 years as the Senior High program director and auctioning off meals as a fundraiser. Get ready to bid on an Old-fashioned Sunday Dinner, German Sausage Tasting, “Mic Drop” Lasagna & Cheesecake, or the Bed & Breakfast at Bluestem! RSVP to email@example.com 620-297-3014. It’s going to be a riotously fun time!
- Take a break before the holidays begin and you have even more albums and projects to complete! Camp Mennoscah has two Scrapbook & Craft Retreats on Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 17-19 just waiting for you to sign up. It’s a lovely long weekend of creativity, make-n-takes, and good company–all in the midst of God’s creation. Register online at www.campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290. We’ll sign you up for a weekend of fun!
Mennonite church announcements
- NOTE THIS CHANGE OF DATE! Announcing Great Day of Singing Events – Area congregations are invited to regional hymn sings – The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, working under the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a “Great Day of Singing” this fall and has scheduled a series of regional hymn sings. In WDC, on Sunday, December 3 at 6:30 pm (not November 19 as was originally announced), Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kansas, will host a hymnsing led by project director and general editor Bradley Kauffman.
- From hurricanes and flooding, to conflict and drought, MCC is responding to many disasters around the world. Learn more about our relief projects and give today to help provide assistance and to support communities as they rebuild by visiting mcc.org/disasters. Our sister organization, Mennonite Disaster Service is responding to damage in the U.S. from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, learn more and donate at mds.mennonite.net. MCC warehouses are very low on relief kits and comforters, your donations are welcome now, please visit mcc.org/kitsfor full details. Your questions are always welcomed, please contact our office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 316.283.2720.
- The Bethel College Women’s Association is asking for donations of baked goods for the Market in the Round and Pie by the Slice booth at Fall Festival, Saturday, Oct. 14. Baked goods of any kindmay be dropped off at Luyken Fine Arts Center Friday, Oct. 13, 3 pm-5 pm, or Saturday morning. Pies can be dropped off at Schultz Student Center, Seminar Room A near the cafeteria entrance, on Friday, Oct. 13, 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m., or Saturday morning at the Pie by the Slice booth. The request is for 9” pies; no cream pies, please. Please use an aluminum pie tin. If you have questions, contact Cindy Erb, email@example.com. Thank you from BCWA!
- Volunteer Opportunity – The practice of hospitality to those who come to us as strangers and leave as friends is at the basis of our faith as Mennonites and Anabaptists. International Guest House in Washington, DC is in particular need of twelve-month host volunteers beginning April 2018. (Those serving a full year receive a monthly stipend and health insurance while all other volunteers receive full room and board.) Rotating duties include cleaning, maintenance, baking, gardening, and interacting with guests at breakfast & the evening tea. The three-pronged focus for volunteers is on hospitality to guests, being in community with one another, and your own personal time exploring our historic city. We are located in a friendly, established neighborhood with easy access to public transportation. Former volunteers at the International Guest House in Washington have found it to be a life-changing experience. This 50 year-old Christian ministry is under the auspices of the Allegheny Conference. For information or application, please contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117