WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
February 26, 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
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Clarence’s Clarion Call
Clarence’s Clarion Call – A Bible-Formed People
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
How were these people formed that they were able to confront the dominating, collusive powers of church and state and dream a new dream of following Jesus in the world? How could they stand firm on chosen faith and believers baptism when for 1,200 years the ruling paradigm had been baptizing infants with everyone included as citizens of state and church? Why were they willing to suffer loss of safety, loss of home, loss of life for this new way of thinking and living? How were they formed?
Readings of Anabaptist trial transcripts from Switzerland to northern Germany to the Netherlands revealed that enthusiastic followers of Jesus were saturated with often-quoted Scriptures to inquisitor questions. Many of these Scriptures were the same and likely had a common source, a little book called the Biblical Concordance of the Swiss Brethren. This was not a word concordance, but a concordance of Scriptural texts arranged under 66 topics. It was a Bible digest without commentary or explanation collected in a little booklet no bigger than a pocket digital camera. This book was easily hidden and carried even into prison cells. The Concordance was published for 150 years beginning perhaps as early as 1530. There are at least 14 surviving German editions and one Dutch edition.
In addition to portability, the Concordance was also popular because of its affordability, costing much less than a complete Bible. It was the source for Bible reading, meditation, memorization, teaching, and sermonization.
The seemingly random topics have a sequence that correlates with a trajectory of Christian formation. The opening chapters focus on the first responses to God’s saving action: Fear of God, Repentance, Discipleship, Rebirth, Service of God, Faith, Baptism and Spirit. Challenges faced by new believers are addressed under headings Persecution, Bearing Witness, Be Not Afraid, and Patience. Positive Christian actions are described under Love, Hope, Keeping Watch, Prayer, Fasting, and Alms. Warnings about behaviors to be left behind include: Sin, Greed, Wrath, Useless Chatter, Excessive Eating/Drinking, Idolatrousness, Swearing, Vengeance. The Concordance concludes with end of life Scriptures with the longest section being Reward of the Pious located in between Day of the Lord and Punishment of the godless.
Noticeably missing from the concordance topics for today’s Mennonites are Peace, Justice, Evangelism, Mission, and Church though these topics are touched on under other headings.
Unlike the Lutheran and Reform movements that quickly developed Confessions and Catechisms that became the focus of study, Anabaptists stayed with a focus on Scripture that had more in common with the Catholic monastic tradition of lectio divina. Scripture was memorized, chewed on, and digested in order that it could be lived out in obedience to the will of God. This was Christian formation by immersion in Holy Scripture.
A good way for congregations to enter into an Anabaptist way of Christian formation would be to identify twelve key Scriptures and then soak in those texts with daily reading, memorization, teaching and preaching. An ambitious congregation might choose 24 texts or one for each week of the year.
The devotional book, Reading the Anabaptist Bible, is one way of entering into this Anabaptist way of discipleship. It takes Scripture readings from the Biblical Concordance for everyday of the year and then includes a testimony from the Martyrs Mirror or quotation from other Anabaptist writers to illustrate the Scripture.
What is the intensity of your engagement with Scripture? Is it enough to shape a counter-cultural, transformed disciple of Jesus?
Mar 3 – Give thanks to God for 100 plus participants at “Citizens of God’s Kingdom: Immigration and Christian Faith.” Pray that God will guide us as a church in welcoming the “alien” and witnessing to the hospitality of God.
Mar 10 – Pray for Luann Yutzy, who will be ordained at Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, KS, today at 4:30 PM.
Mar 17 – Pray for Western District Conference congregations who are exploring new ways of decision-making and discernment.
Mar 24 – Pray for Western District Conference youth groups as they plan for summer camp, service trips and fundraising. Pray for the Conference’s Youth Ministry Network as they evaluate this new model of bi-conference ministry and reset for a new year.
Mar 31 – Pray for young parents in Western District Conference who seek to nurture their children in Christian faith. Pray for the supportive ministry of the Resource Library and Minister of Christian Formation, Marlene Bogard.
March 1-2 – WDC Reference Council & Regional Immigration Gathering, Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS
March 3 – Women’s Choir Festival, First Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
March 21 – Women in Mission Spring Supper, Whitestone Mennonite Church, Hesston, KS
March 19, 21, 22 – WDC Basketball Tournament, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
August 1-2 – Year of the Bible Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
August 2-3 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College and Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS
The March issue of Parish Paper entitled “What Leadership Style Works in Our Church?” can be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/resources/
1. The WDC Reference Council and Mennonite Church USA Regional Immigration Gathering is this weekend at Hope Mennonite Church in Wichita, KS. Over 100 participants have registered to attend. Friday evening’s session will be from 6:45-9:15 pm. Saturday’s schedule begins at 8:45 am and ends at 5:30 pm, with lunch provided. For complete information, see email@example.com (Events)
2. As a Camp Mennoscah Board Member, I am contemplating organizing one or two PASTORS LOVE CAMP fundraising talent nights if there is enough interest from pastors to participate. Email me if you would like to share a talent (besides preaching!!!) for the benefit of Camp Mennoscah. Talents could include any number of things including singing, playing an instrument, telling a story (not preaching!!!), juggling, tumbling, telling jokes, dramatic readings, etc. Dates and format of the event are yet to be determined (perhaps Aug. 2013 and Feb. 2014). I would also welcome anyone who might be interested in helping plan or host such an event. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for considering this opportunity to showcase your talents to benefit camp! –Valerie Klaassen
3. Kitchen help needed! Camp Mennoscah needs one or two people to help out with our Retirees’ Relaxation Retreat on March 22-24. Volunteers are needed for all three days, but volunteers are welcome to come for one day or part of the time. We really need your help–many of our regular volunteers attend this retreat. Please call us at 620-297-3290 if you are able to help us out.
4. Second Scrapbooking Retreat! We had such high demand for our Spring Scrapbooking Retreat at Camp Mennoscah that we have added a second retreat on March 15-17. If you are interested in coming to this second retreat, give us a holler by email at email@example.com or phone at 620-297-3290. You can also send in a registration form clearly marked “March 15-17.” Just use the form that can be found under Retreats at www.campmennoscah.org! We’ll see you there.
5. Sooner than you think! We know you’ve been snowed in and bowled over by all this weather and that you’ve been dealing with shoveling driveways and knocking down icicles from your gutters. But all that means is that you’ll be ready for our Retirees’ Relaxation Retreat on April 22-24. The theme is A Century of Change: In Congo and Kansas. We’d love to send you a brochure. Just give us a call at 620-297-3290!
6. New mattresses! It’s been what feels like forever since we started talking about new mattresses for the Camp Mennoscah cabins. Well, here’s the good news. They’ve been ordered. We won’t get them right away, but we will have them before the summer starts and all our happy campers arrive. We’re really excited! And don’t worry–we’re keeping some of the old ones for sleeping outside during our hottest of hot days. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our mattress fund! We’ll sleep well this summer because of your generosity.
1. The public is invited to Peace Sunday at Eden Mennonite Church in Moundridge, KS at 9:30 am on March 3 to hear Andre Gingerich Stoner speak on “The Nonviolent Cross: The Power of God”. A noon dinner will follow, after which Eden’s high school seniors will read peace essays they have written for Peace Sunday. Stoner will also give a 6:30 pm presentation for Eden and area youth, where he will present “Stories from a Christian Pacifist on a US Military Base”. For more information, call 620-345-8320.
2. Participants in the Jerusalem Seminar 2013 to Present Program: Participants in the recent interim trip to the Holy Land, co-sponsored by Bethel and Tabor Colleges, will share their experiences on Sunday, March 3, 4:30 p.m. at the Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita, KS. Their presentation will focus on what they learned about the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine, through visits with a variety of individuals, representing multiple perspectives. The program on March 3 is co-sponsored by the Palestine Study Group of Wichita, and the Peace Committee of the Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church.
Mennonite ChurchUSA Announcements
1. Bluffton University’s Camerata Singers will perform in concert at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston on March 7 at 7 pm.
2. From the AMBS Church Leadership Center:
Webinar: Women Leaders: Engaging Race and Gender in the Church
Presenters: Joanna Shenk, Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Linda Gehman Peachey
Wednesday, March 13, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Get details and register by March 8
Strengthening Your Small Congregation–a training event for pastors and lay leaders of churches with 100 or fewer regular participants
Keynote Presenter: Margaret Marcuson
Location: Camp Alexander Mack, Milford, Ind.
Saturday, April 13, 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Get details and register by April 5
AMBS is pleased to be a contributing partner for this event
See a complete listing of Church Leadership Center events
Visit our website
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620