WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
December 17, 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)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Clarence’s Clarion Call
Clarence’s Clarion Call – Most Peaceful Time in History
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
Terry Rediger, pastor at Turpin Mennonite Church, surprised his pastor peer group with the question, “What is the most peaceful time in history?” After letting us sit with the question for awhile, he shared the perspective of Harvard University professor Steve Pinker that the most peaceful time in history is right now. Surprised?
Because news tends to focus on the most violent events locally and globally, it is hard for us to see or imagine how our world has become more peaceful and less vengeful over the past two thousand years. Pinker’s statistical analysis in available online. He attributes this trending toward greater peace to stable governments, the valuing of life through health care advancements, and global interconnectivity through digital communications.
I connect this trending toward a more peaceful world with the promise and fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
The governing guidance of the Prince of Peace through the work of citizens of his kingdom is ever increasing. I believe it. I see it. When I take the long view of history, I can see how the Wonderful Counselor is bringing peace and reconciliation to our world through the church.
When I traveled across India in 1997, I saw how the church had brought education, medical care, literacy, release from the power of evil spirits to the poorest of the poor, the Dalits, the outcasts. It was the influence of the church, though only a tiny minority, that brought an end to widow burnings, that brought human dignity to every person, and that began to mitigate the oppressive caste system. The church was at the center of redeeming individuals and recreating the culture. The Mennonite church had more students in its schools than members in its churches. It was doing amazing work in bringing a humanizing peace from below in servant ministry fashion. Similar stories can be told in country after country, century after century.
There are times when the church got it terribly wrong and instigated or endorsed violent and oppressive actions. The Crusades would be an example. Even there the correction came with a call back to following Jesus anew as the Prince of Peace.
It was worshiping and praying Christians that kept alive the hope of freedom and human dignity in the 70 years of atheistic, communist oppression in the Soviet Union. It was the church, the African-American church, which stood against the evils of segregation and racism in the United States in non-violent protest. It was the global church that was influential in upending the oppression of apartheid in South Africa and then creating Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to create a pathway to reconciliation and avert a disastrous civil war. It has been good to remember the work of Nelson Mandela in calling a whole nation to forgiveness in the face of unmentionable atrocities. I don’t know that his motivations were explicitly Christian, but his actions clearly mirrored the words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
The rule of the Prince of Peace is ever increasing. I believe it. I see it. As The Message says:
For a child has been born—for us!
….His ruling authority will grow,
and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
….He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
beginning now and lasting always.
Jan. 5 – Pray for the Western District Conference Leadership Commission as they interview two pastors for ordination on January 10 and for the WDC Executive Board as they have their annual planning retreat on January 11.
Jan. 12 – Pray for the Church Planting Task Force and Gilberto Flores, Associate Conference Minister, as they attend to new church opportunities and continue to support existing church plants.
Jan. 19 – Pray for the Houston Mennonite Church as they develop plans to build new facilities.
Jan. 26 – Pray for Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation, as she continues to develop and post resources on the Year of the Bible website that is available to all Mennonite Church USA congregations.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1, 2014 – WDC office closed
Dec. 24-Jan. 2, 2014 – Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary-Great Plains office closed
Jan. 18, 2014, 9:30 am – Lent Worship Planner, Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
March 1, 2014, 9:00 am – Circle of Grace training, location to be determined
July 4-6, 2014 – WDC Annual Assembly, Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center, Waxahachie, TX
The January issue of Parish Paper, entitled “Big Ministry Trends for 2014” can be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/
1. Featured Resource is this unbelievable website: http://storypath.upsem.edu/ Visit this site to be treated to hundreds of ideas for linking lectionary texts to meaningful children’s books. I have gone through the entire list, ordered some additional children’s books and I estimate that we have about 85% of all the books that they suggest. They also feature a scripture index, book reviews, lesson plans and more ideas. This vast site is updated weekly and offered by students and faculty of Union Presbyterian Seminary. Bookmark it today – and then call or email us for the books. We are here to serve! –Marlene Bogard, WDC Resource Library 316-283-6300; firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Early Birds – Call Now! Sign up yourself and your worship planning team to attend the Lent Worship Planner on January 18 at 9:30 am. at Tabor Mennonite Church. Explore music, visuals, dramas, special services and more. Norma Peters Duerksen, Renee Peters, Marlene Bogard and visual arts folks from Tabor Mennonite will offer some ideas. 316-283-6300. No charge, bring your smiles and ideas.
3. Western District, South Central, and Mountain States Mennonite Conferences invite you to attend the annual Snow Camp at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp. Be inspired by singing and worshiping with other youth, slide down the tube run (hopefully!), play a competitive game of broom hockey, explore beautiful scenery around camp, and more! For more information, visit www.rmmc.org or your church information area. Hope to have you join us! 2014 Snow Camp Dates: Junior High – January 26-26, Senior High 1 – February 14-16, Senior High 2 – March 14-16.
Mennonite ChurchUSA Announcements
1. Kansas Mennonite Disaster Service invites you to their annual meeting and program January 19 at 2:00 p.m. at First Mennonite Church, 429 E. 1st, Newton, KS. The program will feature the Partnership Home Project. Learn about the Partnership Home Project and how your church or churches in your community could get involved. Refreshments will follow the program.
2. How are congregations “conformed” to the culture and in what ways should they be “nonconformed”? How do Christians learn or shape new cultures? Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary – Great Plains Extension offers a three-hour credit (audit option) course, “Understanding the Church’s Contexts” with Dr. Lois Barrett spring semester, Tuesday evenings, 6:30-9:30 p.m. beginning February 4, 2014. Register (online) by January 6 and receive a $50 discount. Contact Dorothy Nickel Friesen, email@example.com or 316-283-7098 for information.
3. FOR PASTORS: Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary-Great Plains Extension will host Allan Rudy-Froese, Assistant Professor of Christian Proclamation, AMBS, for a “Preaching Seminar”. He says, “Discover and gain new confidence in your preaching voice”. Seminar meets 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. February 27 and 28, May 9. Cost is $300. Register and pay by January 31; checks to AMBS-GP, memo line “Preaching Seminar” to AMBS-GP, P.O. Box 306, North Newton, KS 67117. For information, contact Dorothy Nickel Friesen, firstname.lastname@example.org; 316-283-7098.
4. From Church Leadership Center: Please join us for these events…
Encountering God: What Have We Witnessed?
Lent Planner 2014
Friday, January 17
Presenters: Rebecca Slough, Rosanna Eller McFadden, Rachel Miller Jacobs,
This face-to-face workshop introduces worship planners to lectionary-based resources for the season of Lent. The day will open ideas and opportunities for scripture presentations, children’s time, prayer, music and visual elements for the weeks of Lent. Worship resources published in Leader magazine provide the foundation of the day’s explorations. Get details and register by January 3
Webinar: Lent Planning
Tuesday, February 11, 7:30-8:45 p.m. EST
Presenter: Rachel Miller Jacobs
This webinar introduces the Lent theme and the lectionary scriptures for the season. We will explore how to use and adapt worship resources published in Leader magazine, including suggestions for visuals, music, scripture presentations, sermons, and children’s worship. Register by February 6
5. Merry Christmas! We are grateful for your ministry, and your support of Mennonite Church USA in countless ways. To catch glimpses of our gratitude, enjoy this short video from all of us on the Executive Board Staff of Mennonite Church USA. http://www.mennoniteusa.org/
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620