WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
April 15, 2015
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:
*Deed and Word Essentials for a Witnessing Church
Deed and Word Essentials for a Witnessing Church
by Gilberto Flores, WDC Associate Conference Minister
It is interesting that today, the church still faces an unresolved dilemma. Divergent understandings of being a witness of Christ continue to affect our response to God’s mission in the world.
Jesus sent his disciples into the communities with two competencies at hand: the capacity to declare/announce the good news and the capacity to perform the signs of the reign of God and to bless the wounded and broken world.
Declaring and performing does not need to be separated or isolated. Nor do they have to be prioritized as first and second.
One tradition suggests that evangelism is The Priority. Anything outside of this is secondary, subsidiary or auxiliary to the great priority of evangelism. Other traditions affirm action as The Priority. Challenging injustice, prejudice, oppression and peace and justice are the core purposes of the church.
We cannot ignore the abundant biblical references about the power and importance of the word. Revelation says that the word is one of the powerful swords that our resurrected Lord uses to destroy his enemies. By the power of God’s word, salvation is manifest and the world receives hope. However, we cannot say these biblical references suggest preaching or evangelism is over any other kind of action of church work in God’s mission. We cannot ignore the abundant biblical references concerning reconciliation, peace, justice and social concerns.
Jesus’ actions and teaching in the gospels affirm the strong bond between deeds and words. In the book of Acts we read how words were accompanied by acts of power. It was important, from the apostles’ perspective, to proclaim the good news and demonstrate the active presence of the Lord through the powerful signs that followed their words. Jesus spoke, healed, exorcised and fed the hungry. At the same time, He spoke, explained, answered questions and taught about the kingdom of God.
In Mathew 10:1 Jesus commissioned his disciples as follows: “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” And in vs. 7-8, he commanded them: “As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
In the biblical references, we can see the indissoluble connection between deed and words. Then why do we have to choose between one over the other? In choosing one over the other, we separate something that is by nature holistic.
In the global south, churches combine action and preaching. Doing something to alleviate people’s concrete needs is followed by an explanation that allows people to understand and believe. Many times explanation moves people to commit to Jesus and to follow his steps. Then in an organic way, new churches begin. Church planting is not the objective or goal; it is the consequence of every-day holistic witness. Imagine churches that use both words and deeds to generate willingness in communities and individuals to open their hearts to receive God’s grace and mercy.
As I am aware that preaching, evangelism or acts of justice, mercy and peace are not the only way to show that God is at work. I recognize that church planting is not the only way to be a blessing for communities and individuals. I am clear that planting a church is not the center of what God has called the church to do.
Nevertheless, as many people have experienced in the past, when the church evangelizes, or “gospelizes” in the name of Jesus, new people tend to respond and come together to celebrate the blessing of a new life.
These new people become a center of blessings for others and in an endless horizon, the process continues beyond imagination.
It is delightful to see, in the beginning of the Jerusalem church and later in other Asia Minor congregations (like the church in Antioch), how their way of life showed the impact of word and deed, producing strong commitment to the internal life of the congregation and a positive impact in the outside community.
By proclaiming the word, it made accessible the will of God and his purpose for the listeners.
By teaching the word to believers, they give witness and present a defense of their faith.
By worship, they learn to offer sacrifices to God of gratitude and praise to grow in their faith.
By service, they become a manifestation of the open arms of God ready to offer consolation to the world.
By discipleship, these churches teach people that the Christian faith is not an arrival moment, but a long journey toward God, a journey that has to be lived with responsibility and joyful commitment.
By reconciliation, they demonstrate that making and bringing peace is a manifestation of God’s love for all.
By restoration, the church works to affirm that God is interested, passionately interested in blessing not only humanity, but creation as well.
1. The WDC Office will be closed on Friday, April 18, in observance of Good Friday.
2. Pastors – this week is your last chance to register for the Pastor, Spouse & Family Retreat at Camp Mennoscah, April 25-27. Registrations will be accepted until April 17. See: https://mennowdc.org/pastor-spouse-retreat/ for information.
3. The next Year of the Bible event: A webinar will be hosted at the AMBS-Great Plains classroom (2500 Place, North Newton, KS) on Wednesday, April 30 from 1:00 – 2:30 pm The topic is“Understanding Anabaptist Appraoches to Scripture: What’s Different and Why?” with Loren Johns, Professor of New Testament at AMBS-Elkhart. No pre-registration required but a fee of $25 must be paid in cash or check to “AMBS-GP”, memo line “Webinar – Scripture” at webinar. Simply show up, listen, and join others in a follow-up discussion. Contact Marlene Bogard (email@example.com or 316-283-6300) for more information.
4. Shine! Launch! Join the excitement around the new children’s curriculum: Shine, by attending a training on Sunday afternoon, June 22, 3 pm at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS. Save the Date ! More info soon!
5. Can’t miss summer fun! Camp Mennoscah’s summer youth camps for those 3rd grade through high school begin June 8 and run through the end of July. We don’t want you to miss out! Grab a registration form at www.campmennoscah.org and send it in. Scholarship forms are also available on the camp website.
6. Too old to be a camper? That’s no reason to miss out! Camp Mennoscah needs kitchen staff, a couple of nurses, and a head cook for our summer youth camps. Kitchen staff is needed for June 8-14, June 15-19, and July 27-August 1. A nurse is needed for June 15-19 and July 13-19, and a head cook is needed for June 15-19. Want to help out or know someone who would be perfect? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-297-3290. Parents can receive a camper discount.
7. The congregations of Buhler, Hoffnungsau and Inman Mennonite churches (Kansas), are seeking a joint Youth Pastor. This is a 3/4 time position. Please contact Clarence Rempel, Eric Buller (Inman Mennonite) or Cleo Koop (Hoffnungsau Mennonite) for more information. Job description is posted at: https://mennowdc.org/buhlerhoffnungsauinman-churches-youth-pastor-position/)
8. Bethel College Mennonite Church will host a celebration of its 26-rank Mӧller pipe organ, recently renovated by Dobson Organ Builders of Lake City, IA. On Saturday, April 19 at 3:00 p.m. organist Christopher Shaw will present Raised to new life: An organ and hymn festival celebrating the Lent and Easter Season. He will be joined by Eleanor Kaufman, organ, Verlene Garber and Nancy Hilty, piano, Matthew Schloneger, tenor, and Rebecca Schloneger, violin. A freewill offering will be received to support the organ renovation. A reception will follow. Bethel College Mennonite Church is located at 2600 College Avenue, North Newton, KS. For more information, call 316-283-3667 or see bethelcollegemennonitechurch.org.
MC USA Announcements
1. Youth Ministry Council. Are you a youth sponsor? Youth pastor? A church member who enjoys working with youth and wants to learn more? We want you to join us for Youth Ministry Council in Kansas City, MO, from May 12-15. Speakers: Michele Hershberger, professor of Bible and religion from Hesston (KS) College; Rachel Springer Gerber, denominational minister for youth and young adults for Mennonite Church USA; and Curt Weaver, youth pastor from Portland, OR. See www.mennoniteusa.org/youth-leaders-2/youth-ministry-council-2014/.
2. Good news from AMBS – Great Plains! We have been approved to continue offering graduate level courses in Kansas under a “step-down” accreditation provision called “ongoing course offering site” beginning July 1, 2014. Therefore, there will be one course per session (fall, interterm, spring, summer) at the Kansas site in the next academic year. We will celebrate the past 34 years of the Great Plains Extension and the new, simpler structure on Sunday, June 1 at 4:00 p.m. at Bethel College Mennonite Church. Please mark your calendars and join in this service of thanksgiving.
3. The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center will lead a Conflict Transformation Skills for Churches workshop at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, May 10. This is a one-day training, which is useful for clergy and lay leaders interested in advancing their knowledge and skills for dealing with conflict in more healthy ways. A brochure with full information about the training and a registration form is attached, and can be found on our website: http://lmpeacecenter.org/events/cts/cts-brochure.html. Additionally, coupons for group rates are available at request.
4. Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) announces its Annual Gathering 2014, June 13-15, 2014 at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. The theme for 2014 is “Faith at Work: Practicing Our Profession.” This event is open to all Mennonite-related healthcare workers and their families. More information is at www.mennohealth.org/gathering, or feel free to contact email@example.com or 1-888-406-3643.
5. Every Creature Singing is an adult Christian education curriculum prepared by Mennonite Creation Care Network. One unique feature of this curriculum is a series of “circle questions” designed to help congregations ecologically explore the area within a given radius of their meeting place. The curriculum will be available online at no charge in time for the summer quarter. Visit: http://www.mennocreationcare.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620