May 7, 2013

 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)

*Pick My Brain

Pick My Brain – Screen-Free Challenge!
     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

“The Decline and Fall of Reading.”   This headline beckoned me, but oh how I didn’t want to go there.   This recent news-byte in Group Magazine was accompanied by a graph that lists activities teenagers do instead of reading.  Want to guess?  It’s probably the same list that we as adults have as we gravitate more and more to a “screen-based” existence (my term) and less to a paper-based existence.

Instead of reading, we go on line for fun or to fill empty silence.  Instead of reading, we use our cell (smart) phones for talk, text or maneuver on the web.  Instead of reading we visit social networks.  All of these things may provide an important connection to the world, or they may be the biggest time-sucker ever. The truth is…internet-based technology is shoving traditional reading out of our everyday rhythms.  As a Christian educator and librarian, I wonder what it will mean in the long run.

This week I also heard of several young families who are doing a “Screen-Free” week.  No computer, TV, movies, video games.  Previously, one family issued eight 30-minute tickets per week to their boys for screen-time privileges.  I asked their mom, Tina Schrag, from Hesston, Kansas, what prompted these new restrictions.  Tina notes, “We were noticing some unhealthy behaviors.  Bickering, zombie behavior and some screen stupor.”  So beginning on Sunday of last week the family embarked on an experiment. No Screen Time all week.  The result? Noah, age 7 and Levi, age 5 rediscovered toys, spent lots of floor time with cars, trucks and Legos and explored some neighborhood creeks.  They didn’t complain until Friday.  Tina and her husband Ben were amazed by their response.  In addition to more time for reading, they feel like life was somehow healthier for the week.  The next possibility is for the family to try to be screen free one or two days a week.

In another town the Screen-Free challenge was issued to all students from their school.   Hannah, age 11, needed to remind her “I-pad-happy” grandma that “googling” was not acceptable during the week. Hannah stayed strong, even when a restaurant’s TV screen blasted at her during a Mexican meal out. “It’s hard!” she expressed, but went on to be victorious, did extra reading time with grandpa and claimed her prize – a really big cookie.

In the WDC Resource Library, we are also noticing a decline in children and family reading.  The children’s library, deliciously filled with award winning authors and illustrators, carefully selected to support Christian faith themes is only busy during our weekly story-times. It is my hope and dream that parents still want to raise readers, that they still want cuddle time before bed with a good book, that reading together as families is seen as character-building and faith formation.  I want to hear more parents exclaim, “My 11 year old boy still lets me read to him….what shall I choose?”  Make a date with a child and take them to a library!

This summer the Conference Resource Library can serve the children of your home, neighborhood and congregation.  We can pack up a box of 20 + fantastic books for you to circulate in your church.  They can support your VBS or summer Sunday school sessions.  They can go with you to church retreat or on vacation.  You can use them for your own church or home-base summer reading program.  Call or email me for ideas or themes!  I would love to help!

Books = Fun is the theme for our Summer Story time here in the Resource Leader.  Gifted teachers Barb Koontz and Jeanette Roberts will lead children age 3 – 8 for six sessions, beginning Wed. June 19th at 10 am.  For those of you in the Newton area, call or email to sign up.

Suggested reading:

The Reading Promise:  My father and the books we shared by Alice Ozma.  A father and daughter embark on a read-out-loud session every night before bed – for eight years straight, 2012.

The Book Whisperer: awakening the inner reader in every child by Donalyn Miller, 2009.

25 Books Every Christian Should Read: a guide to essential spiritual classics selected by Renovare’, 2011.
WDC Announcements
1.  Camp Mennoscah Scholarship Information–We have posted information for BOTH churches and individuals on the Camp Mennoscah website at www.campmennoscah.org under Camps.  The information for churches talks about when scholarship funds are due and the camper information needed to correctly apply those funds.  Thank you, churches, for your generosity in helping campers visit us!  Know someone who doesn’t attend a church but would like to come to camp?  Tell them about our campers scholarships!  We want everyone to have a chance to come to camp.

2.  La-di-da-di-da!  The 2013 Camp Sing was a rousing success!  All of the best camp songs were sung (and maybe 1 or 2 of the worst), followed by generic pop and tasty popcorn made by Adam and Kevin, Popcorn Geniuses.  $2111.35 was raised for the new bath houses.  And who won the girls versus boys bath house competition?  Oh, no!  A last minute, very generous donation pushed the boys in the lead–$700 boys to $660 girls.  Never fear!  More donations are always welcome and can be made online at www.campmennoscah.org  Just click on the Bathhouse link.  A big, melodious thanks to everyone who came and all those who helped plan the event!

3.  Short and Sweet!  Camp Mennoscah needs nurses:  June 16-20, July 14-20, and July 21-27.  Kitchen helpers needed (greatest needs in bold):  June 16-20, June 23-29, July 7-11, July 21-27, July 28-Aug 2.  Nurses can receive a camper discount up to full camp fees or a volunteer stipend.  Kitchen helpers can receive a camper discount up to full camp fees.  Contact us at campmno@mennowdc.org or 620-297-3290.

4.  Want to carpool to Phoenix for this summer’s Mennonite Church USA convention? Send your name, email and phone number to Western District (316-283-6300, wdc@mennowdc.org), and we’ll try to connect you with others going to share travel costs.

Mennonite ChurchUSA Announcements
1.  Want to use your degree and impact the neighborhood? Join an MVS faith community! Live, learn and serve together for one year. Must be age 20+. Apply by June 1. More info and applications at:  http://www.mennonitemission.net/Serve

2.  There’s still time to apply for a Service Adventure year! Participants ages 17-20 will serve, learn and grow spiritually with the unit and leaders. Apply by June 1. More info and applications at:  http://www.mennonitemission.net/Serve

3.  Mennonite Central Committee would like to invite you to a Learning Tour to Haiti November 2-12. This 10 day tour will give you a first-hand look at the problems Haiti is still facing in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Sandy, and other social- economical issues. If you are interested in being an active participant, dedicated to learning and being transformed through interactions with Haitians, then this is the learning tour for you. Space is very limited. Please respond to Anna Yoder by Monday June 3 at annayoder@mcc.org or 316.283.2720.

4.  Mennonite Mission Network has an immediate opening for a full-time Church Relations Associate whose primary responsibility is to strengthen relationships with pastors and conference leaders and elicit participation and support of Mission Network ministries.  Work will be based in the Mennonite Church USA Newton, Kan. office, with regular travel to other U.S. locations, approximately 35% of the time.  Candidates should bring a passion for God’s mission to the world, and the ability to build relationships, listen perceptively, and excite mission participation.  Must be well organized and willing to take initiative.  Experience in fundraising is an asset. The position description can be read online at www.mennonitemission.net/About/Pages/StaffOpps.aspx. Interested persons should send a letter of interest and résumé to Linda Krueger, Human Resources Coordinator, Mennonite Mission Network, PO Box 370, Elkhart, IN 46515-0370, or e-mail staffrecruitment@MennoniteMission.net.  Mennonite Mission Network is an antiracist organization and welcomes applications from people of all races and nationalities.

Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org