WDC Annual Assembly took place August 4-6, 2017, at the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, TX, celebrating WDC’s 125th anniversary with the theme “Rooted and Built Up in Christ” from Colossians 2:6-7.

As participants arrived for registration, they were offered a polo-shirt with the assembly logo printed on it, as a gift from Hispanic congregations in WDC!  Assembly began with Friday night dinner.  Meals during the weekend were times for fellowship and special gatherings including a pastors’ dinner, and a women’s lunch (see Holy Ground on p. 3).

Friday night worship started with music by Pastor Miguel Norales and others from the Garifuna church plant, Iglesia Menonita Fuente de Restauración.   A readers’ theater* written by Raylene Hinz-Penner presented by Norma Duerksen, Jorge Guitterez, Caleb Yoder and Karen Andres, highlighted WDC history, along with a large timeline of WDC history made by Norma and displayed at the back of the meeting room. Colossians 2:1-7 was read by former conference minister Marvin Zehr.  Conference minister Heidi Regier Kreider preached on “Rooted in Christ, Digging for Treasure,” followed by response time to consider: Through whom have we received Christ? What do we treasure about our congregation and WDC?  Participants wrote their reflections on paper leaves and placed them on branches to create a colorful tree, as they also brought offerings forward. (All offerings during the weekend were for Church Planting in WDC.)  The service concluded with Communion, and a litany of celebration read by former conference ministers Dorothy Nickel Friesen and Marco Guete.

On Saturday morning, delegates gathered around tables for the annual business session led by moderator Anita Kehr and moderator-elect Ray Reimer.  Following table introductions and getting acquainted, a roll-call featured slides with the name, location, meeting place and pastors of each WDC congregation, as members of each congregation stood, providing a glimpse of who we are as WDC.

Workshops on Saturday afternoon offered learning opportunities on a variety of topics: Cultural transition, the MC USA Future Church Summit, church history, genealogy, financial stewardship, faith formation, church planting, immigration, interfaith relationships, and the art of the St. John’s Bible.

Iglesia Luz del Evangelio hosted a festival Saturday evening, complete with a delicious meal sponsored by the WDC Hispanic Dallas churches, children’s games, time for fellowship and a piñata celebrating WDC’s birthday!

The Sunday morning featured worship and music led by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Katherine Goerzen and Annette Albrecht.  Hildalejandra Pellecer read scripture, and the sermon was offered by John Garland, Pastor at San Antonio Mennonite Church, again reflecting on Colossians 2:1-7.  John told about SAMC’s experience last year hosting hundreds of people released from detention, and then a traffic accident that he and his wife suffered soon after. As he recovered, he was reminded that his life and ministry belong to God. John encouraged the church to focus on how much God loves us, and on making disciples who overflow with love for the world – a fitting message as we were sent forth from Assembly!

*For more information, see https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/.  Posted there are several items related to Assembly including:

  • Text of Readers’ Theater for WDC Celebration of 125 Years – available for congregational use
  • Executive Board statement opposing Texas law SB4
  • For more Assembly photos, see Western District Conference (Mennonite Church USA)’s Facebook page!