December 9, 2014

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 – The Neighboring Challenge!

Pick My Brain – The Neighboring Challenge!

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

In the Art of Neighboring, author Jay Pathak explains the “map of shame” exercise he uses when encouraging folks to be better neighbors.   Imagine a chart with your house placed  in the middle, and all your neighbor’s houses around the edge of the page. The task is to fill in names, and more information about each household.  This exercise is rightly named the “map of shame,” because many of us really do not know our neighbors, nor really have a clue on how to be more neighborly.  It soon becomes evident that most of us place limitations on who our friends and acquaintances are. Right before Christmas is an excellent time to stop by the neighbors with some holiday cheer and goodies, and even an invitation to attend your church for a special service.

In The Great Good Place, author Ray Oldenburg discusses the allure of the “third place.”  These are public places where people gather and put aside the concerns of home and work (their first and second places), and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company, lively conversation.  Oldenburg puts forth a compelling argument for the settings of these informal places as essential for the health of any community.  What would need to happen for our churches to be considered “third places?”  Or…are we as Anabaptist Christians seeking out third places in our communities to hangout with all kinds of people, wonder together about the tough stuff of the world, and celebrate good coffee and pastries.

Yesterday, I was blessed to attend a home baptism of 75-year old “Joe” who met a couple of our WDC pastors in a local bar and grill.  After several weeks of informal conversation about family, football, and life, Joe asked one of the pastors to baptize him.  Joe’s Christian faith is authentic, and he will be joining a church next week.  This remarkable and very simple story of friendship gives me great hope that more of us can be comfortable in all kinds of community settings, offering friendship, listening, smiles and learning the art of neighboring, in the name of Christ.

The WDC Resource Library has wonderful books on connecting with your community.  Call or email (316-283-6300 / crlib@mennowdc.org)  to request these:

City of God : faith in the streets / Sara Miles.

Dirty faith : becoming the hands and feet of Jesus

Missional Essentials / Brad Brisco and Lance Ford

Celebrating the third place : inspiring stories about the “great good places” at the heart of our communities / edited and with an introduction by Ray Oldenburg.

The art of neighboring : building genuine relationships right outside your door / Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.

Strangers at my door : a true story of finding Jesus in unexpected guests / Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

The abundant community : awakening the power of families and neighborhoods / John McKnight and Peter Block.

WDC Announcements

  1. New Associate Conference Minister Called

Howard Garver has accepted a call from the Executive Board of Western District Conference to serve as Associate Conference Minister for Texas and Director of Church Planting beginning January 1, 2015. He will be serving one week per month for the first eight months commuting from his home in Sarasota, Florida, where Howard is currently serving as Transitional Pastor for Bayshore Mennonite Church. He applied at the recommendation of Marco Guete, Conference Minister for Southeast Mennonite Conference and former WDC Associate Conference Minister in Texas. Howard is a new Mennonite who appreciates the wholistic perspective of following Christ in all of life in shared community with a missional purpose.

Howard grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. High school peers and teachers were the witnesses in Howard’s life that brought him to Christ. He is a graduate of Messiah College where he met his wife Becky from Abilene, KS. They served with Brethren in Christ World Missions in Venezuela for five years in support of church planting. He next served as an Associate Pastor at Collin Creek Community Church, 1997-2003, in Plano, Texas, which was a new Wesleyan church. During this time he also worked as Director of Evangelism and Church Growth with a focus on church planting in Louisiana, Texas, and Peru for the Wesleyan Church. He then served as the senior pastor of the Levant Wesleyan Church, Falconer, New York, from 2003-13. It was a church in substantial distress with a $1 million debt that he guided to stability and a new missional focus. He worked with a number of new missional initiatives in the community including Open Table, an accompaniment ministry for persons wanting to move out of poverty. In addition to mentoring, he prepared tax returns for low-income families.

In his acceptance Howard writes:

I am excited to join the Western District Conference!  I understand what Paul was feeling as he wrote the letter to the Romans.  He had heard a good report of their faith and wrote of his plans to be with them so that in some way he could contribute.    We will begin the year commuting back and forth from Florida, getting to understand the history and vision of the congregations and conference.  Later in the year, Lord willing, Becky and I will relocate to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in order to more fully engage in the work.  We are humbled and honored by this call to serve Christ and His Church in this way.  We ask for your prayers and grace as we begin.

Estamos muy contentos de ser parte de la Western District Conference!  Entiendo lo que Pablo se sentía cuando él escribió la carta a los Romanos . Había oído un buen testimonio de su fe y escribió sobre sus planes para estar con ellos para que de alguna manera él podría contribuir.  Comenzamos el año viajar ida y vuelta desde Florida, llegando a comprender la historia y la visión de las congregaciones y la conferencia. Más adelante en el año, Dios mediante, Becky y yo nos trasladaremos a la zona de Dallas para participar más plenamente en la obra. Nos sentimos humildes y honrados por este llamado a servir a Cristo y Su Iglesia de esta manera. Pedimos sus oraciones y la gracia durante estos primeros pasos.

  1. Pastor’s Lunch Table Talk Conversation with Elsie Rempel, Christian Formation Consultant with Mennonite Church Canada, on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 12:30 pm at Bethel College Mennonite Church Fellowship Hall, North Newton, KS.  Bring your own lunch, drinks provided.  Elsie has just completed a booklet:  “Come Lord Jesus, be our Host,” which provides reflections and tools  to guide your conversations as you navigate the waters of change that many of us experience as we gather around the theology and practice of Communion and the Lord’s Table. Elsie says, “My hope is that it will help congregations articulate what they believe about communion and faithfully celebrate it as a tradition that helps form and celebrate faith for all ages.”  Call / email to sign up:  mbogard@mennowdc.org / 316-283-6300.
  2. There will be a Special Christmas concert by Five Times Harder on Sunday, December 21 at 3 pm in the Sanctuary of Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS. A free-will offering will be taken for the work of Mennonite Central Committee.
  3. Recently published:   Marlene Bogard wrote: Down from the Mountaintop: sustaining the Church Camp Experience at home in the The New Fall Issue of Lifelong Faith: Faith Formation Practices & Approaches for All Ages and Generations.   Download the Fall 2014 Issue at LifelongFaith.com.

Mennonite Church Announcements

  1. New Curriculum on Assisting Returning Veterans: Titus Peachey of MCC US and Jason Boone, Peace and Justice Support Network, MCUSA recently completed a six week Sunday School curriculum:  Returning Veterans, Returning Hope: Seeking Peace Together.   The curriculum attempts to do three things:
    -offer peace church congregations a clear biblical foundation for reaching out to military veterans;
    -help peace church congregations understand the depth of trauma that veterans may be carrying;
    -help peace church congregations deepen their commitment to peace and nonviolence.

This curriculum, a free download can be found at: ://mcc.org/media/resources/1719

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