This issue of Garden marks the beginning of a new church year with Advent (December 1), a new calendar year (January 1) and WDC’s new fiscal year (February 1).  In this season we anticipate the coming of Christ and prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  We open ourselves to the mystery of God’s future, and to the presence of Jesus, God’s Word made flesh here and now in the midst of our current lives and contexts.  We consider what new things are emerging, and how we are being invited to join God’s work. As we anticipate the new year in WDC, here are some things to look forward to:

Women are invited to “Let’s Talk…Women, Money & Faith,” a special event hosted by Western District Women in Mission, January 24-25 at Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, KS. This will feature speakers from Everence who will address money and faith topics for women of all ages and stages of life.  Look for more information soon on Facebook or at the WDWM web page at

Youth are encouraged to consider attending Youth Lead Now, a leadership training event January 11 at Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS, sponsored by the Bi-Conference Youth Ministry Committee of WDC and South Central Conference.  This one-day workshop is designed for high school youth to enrich leadership skills and deepen faith, using an adaptive leadership framework and spiritual practices. Congregations are encouraged to send youth who have been affirmed for leadership gifts and potential.  The registration fee is $50 (scholarships available upon request). Youth can register at

Youth Lead Now is one of several initiatives building on the joint WDC/SCC Leadership Transformation Grant from Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) in Wichita, KS. In 2020, our continuing grant will again cover registration cost for a number of WDC members to attend training sessions in KLC’s three primary leadership programs. More information will be available soon, about how to apply for a training spot through our grant.  The WDC/SCC Core Team for our KLC grant also plans to host an anniversary event in 2020 celebrating 5 years of WDC/SCC partnership with Kansas Leadership Center. Since our first grant in 2015, over 75 persons from WDC, along with others from SCC, have received leadership training at KLC! We want to continue networking together, highlighting effective leadership practices and envisioning ways to strengthen WDC and our congregations through these resources.

And, of course, everyone is invited to mark your calendars to attend WDC Annual Assembly, July 31-Aug 2 at Camp Copass, Denton, Texas. Keynote speaker will be M. Daniel Carroll (Rodas), Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, focusing on topics related to immigration and the Bible.  Delegates and members from across WDC are encouraged to come to learn and worship, share in delegate work and conversation, and enjoy fellowship and hospitality with sisters and brothers in Texas!

Through these opportunities and in many other ways, the new year invites us to watch and listen for God’s presence and work among us.  This might come through hearing the voices of youth and young adults, gaining new understanding from the experience of immigrants, considering new ways to connect faith and finances, exercising leadership gifts in new ways, or building relationships across geographical and cultural differences.   In whatever ways God leads, may we receive Christ with open hearts, minds and spirit.

           —Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister