January 27, 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)


*Clarence’s Clarion Call
*Prayer Requests
*Coming Events
*Parish Paper

Clarence’s Clarion Call – The Storm That Wasn’t

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

The convergence of weather systems led to predictions of two to three feet of snow in New York City and along the eastern seaboard and all systems went on alert on Monday, January 26. Streets were cleared of traffic, and people were instructed to stay home. The convergence of personal life systems is clearing out the full-time ministry staff at Western District Conference (WDC) representing 35 years of institutional memory.

Gilberto Flores is retiring on January 31 with a few assignments carrying over into February. He and Rosa will settle in their homeland of Guatemala. Early weather reports are indicating that new ministry opportunities await Gilberto in Central America, and we are exploring how WDC might connect with those possibilities.

Marlene Bogard, after serving Western District Conference in a variety of assignments over 25 years is completing her work as Minister of Christian Formation, Director of the Resource Library, and Director of Annual Assembly on February 28. She will become the Executive Director of Mennonite Women USA. The new assignment makes it possible for her and Mike to relocate to Oregon to be near family including their new grandson, Marlow.

And, I will be completing my five-year term as Executive Conference Minister on June 30 and moving into retirement and new opportunities of service in the kingdom of God. As Gilberto notes the word for retirement in Spanish means jubilee, Sabbath years of resting in God and serving in new ways. As the forecast of these changes emerged, it seemed a bit overwhelming, but clarity about the future is taking shape.

Howard Garver has been appointed by the Executive Board as the new Associate Conference Minister for Texas and as Director of Church Planting. He will spend a couple of weeks traveling with Gilberto in January and February meeting the churches and pastors in his sphere of responsibility. This week Howard is participating in Pastor’s Week at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary around the theme “What Is an Anabaptist Christian?” He also took the one day seminar on Mennonite Polity with Janeen Bertsche Johnson. Howard is currently serving as Transitional Pastor at Bayshore Mennonite Church, Sarasota, Florida. He is beginning with one week per month, then moving to half-time in April and full-time in September.

The WDC Executive Board has decided to wait with filling the Minister of Christian Formation role until the new Executive Conference Minister is appointed and an evaluation of overall staffing is completed. In the meantime, Katherine Goerzen has been appointed to head up the Anabaptist Faith Formation event on June 12-13, and I will be appointing an Interim Resource Librarian.

The Search Committee for Executive Conference Minister has posted a job description at mennowdc.org and has announced the opening through a variety of channels. Potential candidates are asked to contact Sondra B. Koontz, Search Chair, 820 E 7th, Newton, KS 67114 or skoontz@bethelks.edu. Other members of the Search Committee are Anita Kehr, Johann Reimer, Norma Johnson, Violeta Ajquejay, Weldon Schloneger, and Ryan Koch.

This staff transition, may well be the “storm that wasn’t,” just like the northeasterner. I am confident excellent staff will be secured for the future and the writing of the next chapter of the WDC story. I expect that our very strong support staff, Nancy Funk, Phyllis Regier, and Sandra Martinez, will help bridge the transition. I also feel we have a strong Executive Board in place and excellent leadership at the Commission levels to carry on our tasks of

  • Sustaining transformative pastors
  • Resourcing healthy missional churches
  • Networking Anabaptist church planting partnerships.

Pray for God’s guidance for WDC staff and leadership. “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end” (Psalm 48:14).

Prayer Requests

Feb 1 – Thank God for the ministry of Gilberto Flores, Associate Conference Minister in Texas, who will finish handing off his work to Howard Garver this month. Pray for a smooth transition.

Feb 8 – Pray for a fruitful beginning for Howard Garver, new Associate Conference Minister for Texas and Director of Church Planting. Pray for safe travel as Howard will be commuting from Sarasota, Florida, for the first six months.

Feb 15 – Pray for God’s guidance for the Western District Conference Search Committee seeking a new Conference Minister. Pray for Sondra Bandy Koontz who chairs the committee.

Feb 22 – Pray God’s blessing on Laura Goerzen who is being ordained to pastoral ministry at First Mennonite Church of Christian, Moundridge, KS, this morning.

Coming Events
Jan 29 – Leadership for Adaptive Times Seminar, First Mennonite Church, Halstead, KS
Jan 31-Feb 1 – Know Jesus, Hesston College
Feb 5 – Prevention of Clergy Misconduct Training, Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS
Feb 7 – Mennonite Agri Urban banquet, Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, KS
March 16-21 – WDC Basketball Tournament, Bethel College gymnasiums, North Newton, KS
April 11 – WDC Reference Council, Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS
April 26 – Children’s Choir Festival, Newton, KS
June 12-13 – Anabaptist Faith Formation – Growing in Christ – Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
June 30-July 5 – Mennonite Church USA Convention, Kansas City, KS
Oct 30-31 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS

Parish Paper
The February issue of Parish Paper, entitled “How to Avoid the Potholes on the Road to Retirement” can now be viewed at:  https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.

WDC Announcements

  1. Pastors – The “Prevention of Clergy Misconduct Training” is required every five years, and it is being offered on Thursday, February 5.  Please register by Thursday, January 29, so we can plan for your attendance.  It will be held at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, rural Goessel, KS.  Go to:  https://mennowdc.org/prevention-of-clergy-misconduct-training/ for more information and to register.

    2.  Scrapbooking Retreat brochures and registration forms are now available!  Contact us at office@campmennoscah.org or 620-297-3290 with questions.  The brochure should be available on the website soon.


  1. Camp Days at the Colleges–Camp Mennoscah will be at Goshen, Hesston, Tabor, and Bethel Colleges on Feb. 6 and Feb. 9-11 respectively.  Folks interested in being on summer staff or counseling or are camp fans are welcome to stop by our booth to say hi.  A pizza gathering for those interested in being on staff will be held in both Goshen, IN, and Newton, KS.  Contact Olivia at 620-297-3290 for more information.


  1. Valentine’s Day Volunteering–Folks who love Camp Mennoscah are welcome and invited to show their love of camp in a tangible way on February 14.  The day of fun will begin around 9-9:30am and run through the afternoon.  We’ll feed volunteers lunch and offer you a camp tee shirt.  Please let us know you are coming (office@campmennoscah.org or 620-297-3290) so we can let you know if there are any changes.

    5.  Burrton (KS) Mennonite Church has a Baldwin Electric organ, a Baldwin upright piano, around 40 red Mennonite hymnaries in excellent condition, and a few Sing and Rejoice that they would like to share with any Western District Conference Church. Contact Ron Dick at 620-463-7131 or cell 620-200-4320. If churches aren’t interested, individuals would be given opportunity.

    Mennonite Church Announcements
    1.  Learn with MCC! Everyone is invited to this special Mennonite Central Committee event on Saturday, February 28 at 9 am in the Luyken Fine Arts Center on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton, KS.  MCC Central States program staff is teaming up with MCC U.S. staff to provide resources and a time of mutual learning on the topics of: immigration, sexualized and gender based violence, Doctrine of Discovery and Indigenous people and militarization within the U.S. Lunch at Mojo’s Coffee Shop (also on the Bethel campus) will follow the seminars. Mark your calendars to join us. If you plan to attend, please email tinaschrag@mcc.org or call 316-283-2720!

    2.  March 27 and April 24: Spring Seminary Preview Days at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., are opportunities for people interested in seminary study to meet faculty and students and learn more about study on campus and at a distance. Visit www.ambs.edu/visitAMBS to register or call 800.964.2627.

    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