WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
February 18, 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)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Cities Are Ready for the Harvest
Cities Are Ready for the Harvest
by Gilberto Flores, WDC Associate Conference Minister
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9: 35-38 NRSV)
I have read this text many times since I was a boy, and registered it in my memory forever. This scripture has several things that attracted my attention and captured my imagination in a powerful way.
Jesus visiting cities and populated areas has illuminated my work as director of church planting, and means to me that cities are in God’s heart. His compassion for those in the cities wandering in despair and helpless is a graphic description of what we see very often in urban places. In Luke 10 Jesus sent his disciples to every town and place where he himself intended to go (v. 1) and in both cases, the human condition touched deep in Jesus’ heart.
Today, big cities are complex melting pots of races and cultures, centers of subtle and active interactions; origins of new social generations and models. In the USA, big cities attracted masses of rural people from Europe and other parts of the world, taking them out of the isolation of their natal villages. The energies latent in these people were aroused as a consequence of the commotion caused by new contacts.
In this urban context or ecology, one does not need to go too far to find what Jesus saw as he visited cities and villages. The frantic and busy life generates consequences that hurt people, producing emotional distress and hopeless conditions. The crowds are “harassed and helpless.”
Working for the kingdom of God in a big city is a unique privilege and challenge. There are a myriad of possibilities. The city and its multicultural components reveal God’s creative hand everywhere you go. At the same time, you can see the worst of a society – poverty, loneliness and illness. In other words, the context gives us the opportunity to see the most enjoyable things a city can offer, and at the same time the worst things you can imagine.
That is why Jesus’ words touch me deeply. He notices the contradictions and ambiguities of the city and instead of rejecting the city, he expressed compassion. He saw the city as a place of harvest, not an evil space to be avoided. Jesus reacted in three ways: curing the ill, having compassion for those living without direction, and asking his disciples to be aware. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” The harvest is here and abundant. The laborers are so few. Ask the Lord to move people, ask the Lord to touch people to see with Jesus’ eyes and be moved into compassion.
Take for example the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington metropolitan area. Dallas is the fourth largest US metro area, with a population of 6,700,911 settled in 9,286 square miles. In 2008-2009, they received an influx of 146,530 new residents, becoming the fastest growing metropolitan area in the nation. Their demographic composition is as follows: 69% White, 13.9% African American, 0.6 Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 10% other races, 2.4 two or more races, 21.7% Hispanic/Latino.
As I move around in this city it is easy to understand Jesus’ concern. This place has plenty of great opportunities for harvest. Jesus did not say come to cities and plant a seed. Jesus said the cities are ready for harvest.
Evidently, God has no problem seeing what is going on in cities. But we have problems because is difficult for us to see what is already going on. We are interested in planting a new church in Arlington, the third largest city in the metropolitan area (375,600 people). I decided to go there, pray around and see with my eyes wide open. As I was doing it, suddenly something came to my mind: “Where is Jesus at this moment?” Then I asked, “Jesus, are you walking here too?” I am sure he was somewhere in Arlington healing, comforting and walking with people.
If you are interested in a project like this and want to come and see for yourself, please contact us. If you prefer, please pray for the cities, send your financial help to our offices in North Newton and join us in our efforts to be witnesses in the cities.
2. The Western District Conference Resource Library is OPEN the first Saturday of every month from 10 to noon. Mark your calendars: March 1, April 5, May 3.
3. Circle of Grace is a Christian safe environment curriculum that helps to educate children and youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others. Your congregation has received this program, and we invite you to send several to the training 9:15-11:30 a.m on Saturday, March 1 at First Mennonite Church, 429 E 1st, Newton (NOTE THIS CHANGE OF LOCATION). Call 316-283-6300 by February 25. It’s free, but you may be required to eat a cinnamon roll!
5. First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro is seeking a part-time youth pastor to begin August 1. For more information contact First Mennonite Church at 620-947-5662. Send resume by April 15 to First Mennonite Church, 102 South Ash, Hillsboro, KS 67063.
6. Book of Jebb Coffeehouse – Saturday, February 22, 6:30-9:00 pm at Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, KS. Fundraiser for MCC mission trip to Colombia, South America. Call 913-236-8820 for more information.
7. Last Call for Summer Staff! Hey, all you campy folks! Camp Mennoscah is sending out one last reminder that if you are interested in applying for the 2014 summer staff positions, now is the time to do so. We’re nearing the point of making decisions about positions, so get your foot in the door–send in that application form! Forms can be found online at www.campmennoscah.org or by calling 620-297-3290.
8. Wonderful campers! We have been receiving your registration forms and we will be processing them shortly. What we mean is, don’t panic if you haven’t received a confirmation email from Camp Mennoscah yet. We’re scurrying like startled mice to get everything in order. Then we’ll zap you an email saying, “YES! We are so happy you’re coming to camp this summer!” And we are. We’re really happy that you’re coming to camp. Call 620-297-3290 with questions.
9. Retreat! Retreat! Camp Mennoscah has two retreats this spring that are just waiting for you. The first retreat is our March 14-16 Scrapbooking Retreat and the second is our Retirees’ Relaxation Retreat, April 21-23. Information on both retreat can be found on our website at www.campmennoscah.org under Retreats or by calling 620-297-3290. Welcome! Welcome!
10. 2014 Camp Mennoscah Tee Shirt Design–Our tee shirt design this year has been a collaborative effort of Katrina Heinrichs, camper, and Jesse Graber, freelance artist. In response to a plea for tee shirt ideas, Katrina sent in a snazzy one that Jesse then whoop-de-doodled and finalized for printing. The tee shirt design will soon be posted on the Camp Mennoscah Facebook page. Just go to our website at www.campmennoscah.org and click on the Facebook link. Thank you, Katrina and Jesse!
MC USA Announcements
2. AMBS – Upcoming events
Theological Lectureship with Mark Smith, PhD: “Becoming catholic”, March 19-20Greg Boyd, PhD Public lecture, April 24: Keeping God’s Kingdom “Holy”: Resisting the temptation to be practical
Jubilee for Today, March 6, 10:00-11:30 a.m. Eastern
What is your sermon doing? March 20, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern
3. On March 1-3 Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church in Harper, KS will host Dave Eshleman for a spring speaking series. Dave is a church consultant and has written several books including Now Go Forward: Reaching Out to Grow Your Congregation, published by Herald Press (2009). He will be speak and teach on the topic of reaching out to our community. The times and themes are:
– Saturday evening: Meal 5:30pm ,speaker at 6:30pm: “Motivation for Outreach”
– Sunday Morning: Sunday School 9:30am: “Prayer and Vision: Relationships are Everything”
– Sunday morning Worship: 10:30am: “Reaching Community People”
– Sunday evening: 6:30pm: “Tools for Reaching the Unchurched”
– Monday evening: 6:30pm: “Making Disciples/Helping People Make Changes”
If you are interested in joining us for this weekend or you have further questions, please feel free to call the church office at 620-896-2004 or email us at email@example.com.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620