January 7, 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

Pick My Brain – Seven ways to begin a meeting

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

Meetings have the potential to be a mighty big blessing, a primo opportunity for Christian Formation.  Pastors, I request that you route these ideas to all your committees.  I challenge you to create space in all your meetings to reflect, pray and listen to God.

1.  Silence and Prayer. The leader invites the group to be comfortable, take a few slow, deep breaths and then enter into a time of silence together. I suggest a full five minutes of silence. Busy people will welcome a few moments of restful quiet to settle their minds and souls, listen to God and prepare them for engaging in meaningful conversation and committee work. The leader will then end the silence with prayer.  Taking the time at the beginning of a meeting to have silence and prayer together is a way of entering into “worship-ful work,” that pattern of recognizing that our church committee work is God’s work, and this “work” is also one way to worship and love God.

2.  Praying the Scriptures.  Do you have particular scriptures on which your church is focusing ?  Perhaps something connected to your Mission Statement?  Perhaps you could pray the scriptures you have chosen for the Twelve Scriptures Project! ( http://www.yearofthebiblenetwork.org/uploads/1/3/1/9/13197844/12_scriptures_project.pdf )  Basically, Praying the Scriptures means that you read the selected text slowly and repeatedly, with time for silence in between each reading.  Spontaneous sharing about what word or phrase “sparkled” is invited.  Some of you may know this as Lectio Divina, and I encourage you to adapt the steps to fit your group.  This practice is especially appropriate during a Year of the Bible!  Explore yearofthebiblenetwork.org weekly.

3. Group Reflection and Sharing. The leader, after posing a question, will ask the rest of the group to respond.  Examples: How has God been present to you this week?  Have you experienced a “God-sighting” today?  What has been the brightest part of your day and the hardest part of your day?  Note:  these questions are intended to gently open us up to the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives, and help us take time for reflection, which in turn enables us to speak more clearly about our own experience with God.  This simple rhythm of reflection, sharing and then prayer is a wonderful practice of spiritual formation.

4. Group  Experience.  The Cornerstones book (see below) provides comfortable community-building exercises that connect with a scripture focus.  Try these: Let this Mind Be in You, (complete a drawing, then share how you each “see” different things) or Coming Soon to My Life – where you write your own billboard announcement.

5. Group Resourcing. Read a book together, and discuss a chapter; Everyone comment on a blog that they follow; Invite one person to report on an learning event they attended.  Use a bit of time to learn together!

6. Use a “pre-fab” devotional.  It’s ok to use something that is already created! I suggest a story from Purpose Magazine or a devotional from  Rejoice (available in print and download). These offerings are written by Mennonites across the US and Canada, specifically to encourage and inspire us.  Call MennoMedia at 1-800-245-7894 or visit http://store.mennomedia.org/Devotional-and-Inspirational-C1266.aspx to order these materials for your congregation.  Or…search Devotions on our catalog and get 180 hits!  mennowdc.org

7. Pray in a new way.  Life Reflections. Discernment Process. Biblical Reflections. Intercessory Prayer.  All of these can be be done prayerfully, using a variety of the senses and learning styles.  Perhaps you will simply grab some Hymnals and sing your prayers!  Search “Creative Prayer” on our catalog and you will get 33 fantastic books!  I am happy to send you any of them.

Resources available at the WDC Resource Library: 
Attentive to God: spirituality in the church committee by Karen Marie Yust.  Chalice Press, 2001.
Cornerstones for Christian Communities: openings and closings that empower church meetings by Kurt Bickel. Cornerstone, 1996.
Growing Together:  Spiritual Exercises for Church Committees by Rochelle Mellander and Harold Epply.  Augsburg, 1998.
Meeting God in the Bible: 60 Devotions for Groups by Donald Griggs.  Kerygma, 2003.
50 Ways to Pray: from many traditions and times by Teresa Blythe, Abingdon, 2006.

Setting the Agenda: Meditations for the Organization’s Soul by Edgar Stoesz and Rick M. Stiffney, Herald Press, 2011.

WDC Announcements
1.  Featured Resource: Read through the New Testament in One Year Bible Study and Devotional by Cindy Beecher, Beatrice (Nebraska) Mennonite Church.  This study is set up in seven-day sections. For five days you will: Read a portion of scripture.  Relate a portion of scripture by answering questions. Respond to a portion of scripture by journaling or writing a prayer to God.  Remember a portion of scripture by memorizing.  Then for two days you will:  Reflect on the lessons you have learned and the memory verse you have been memorizing that week. This pattern will continue for one year.  This study is available at yearofthebiblenetwork.org – under Read It – Adult.

2.  Year of the Bible Scholarships available for Hesston College class Reading the Bible in an Instagram World, which meets Feb. 21-23. Western District Conference is making available thirty $30 “rebates” to anyone who attends this fantastic YOB resourcing event that will help make the Bible come alive through presentations, participation and reflection. Contact Nancy Funk to sign up for the rebate, which will be issued after the event.  Visit hesston.edu/avds for registration materials.

3.  Circle of Grace Training – Saturday March 1, 9:30 am – 11:30 am. 
Recently, most WDC congregations have been contacted to see if they wish to receive the updated Circle of Grace, a Christian safe environment curriculum that helps to form and educate children and youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others. COG teaches children and youth how to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.
26 WDC churches have asked for this resource. Packets with DVD curriculum and additional helps will be sent to these churches on Jan. 10.  A  two-hour training will be held on March 1 at WDC Offices, in North Newton, KS.  Please contact Nancy Funk if you and others from your church will attend. Registration Deadline:  Feb. 25.

4. Please forward this announcement to your Church Librarians:   Church Library supplies for cheap: (Until they are gone….)
* Buff colored catalog cards – 50 for $1
* Buff colored book pockets with self-stick backing – 20 for $1
* Clear Mylar plastic book jackets – for 9 ” books; 10″ books and 14″ books. These are for hard-cover books and will be attached to the dust jacket and will protect them for years.  10 for $2.00
And.. of course – if you come in and visit with me, you can choose a free book to add to your shopping cart. 🙂

5.  Lent planning begins soon!  Get a jumpstart on ideas for visuals, dramas, music, and special services by attending the Lent Worship Planner to be held at Tabor Mennonite Church on Saturday, January 18 from 9:30-11:30 am.  Norma Peters Duerksen, one of the writers for the 2014 materials will be our leader.  Bring your own copies of the Winter Leader magazine.  Call WDC by January 15 to sign up!  316-283-6300

6.  A Hopeful View – Celebrating the Past, Faithfully Embracing the Future, an Anabaptist Mennonite Historical Series about the Buhler and Inman, Kansas, region:  The Mennonite congregations of Hoffnungsau, Bethel, Hebron (no longer in existence), Buhler and Inman invite you to this series about their unique history that linked them as sister congregations.  The series will be held on Wednesday evenings (7-8 pm) as follows:

Jan. 15 – Reformation Soil and Seeds, Dale Schrag (Meeting at Hoffnungsau Mennonite)

Jan. 22 – Anabaptist Seedlings, Dale Schrag (Meeting at Hoffnungsau Mennonite)

Jan. 29 – A Long Sojourn in Poland/Prussia, Mark Jantzen (Meeting at Hoffnungsau Mennonite)

Feb. 5 – A Short Sojourn in Russia, Mark Jantzen (Meeting at Hoffnungsau Mennonite)

Feb. 12 – Buhler Mennonite Church annual chicken noodle soup supper (serving 5-7 pm), proceeds for mission projects (Event at Buhler Mennonite)

Feb. 19 – Hoffnungsau and Bethel Mennonite Churches present (Meeting at Bethel Mennonite)

Feb. 26 – Hebron and Buhler Mennonite Churches present (Meeting at Buhler Mennonite)

Mar. 5 – Joint Ash Wednesday supper and worship service (supper is part of the worship service, serving from 5:30-6:30) (Meeting at Hoffnungsau Mennonite)

Mar. 12 – Inman and Hoffnungsau Mennonite Churches present (Meeting at Inman Mennonite)

7. At the beginning of this new year, churches are encouraged to send last year’s bulletins and newsletters to Bethel College Mennonite Library and Archives (300 27th St, North Newton, KS).  These items are important for Mennonite Church USA’s historical records. 

8.  Please note this new email address for Salina Mennonite Church:  salinamennonite@hotmail.com

Mennonite Church USA Announcements
1.  Attached are the prayer requests from the member schools of Mennonite Schools Council, and the colleges, universities, seminaries and educational programs of Mennonite Church USA for January. MEA also posts these prayer requests on its website. The prayer request of the day is displayed on our home page and the document is available at www.MennoniteEducation.org/PRAYERS.

2.  Everence is hosting our second Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity (CCCG) workshop this spring – March 7 & 8 at the Hesston Mennonite Church (8:30 – 3:30 each day).  Five congregations have committed to participate, and Everence is willing to accept four more.  The maximum is 9 congregational teams of 4-5 people per team.  Cost is $100 per team plus $40 per participant for printed materials. Let Pete Flaming know of your interest by January 20 –620-327-4043.

3. Transitional ministry has a unique place in the mission of the church. While “interim pastors” have provided preaching and pastoral care for many years, “transitional ministry” involves training to lead congregations through a process of preparation for entering a new chapter of leadership.

March 10-14, 2014, Amigo Centre will host a Transitional Ministry Training retreat for individuals interested in pursuing this type of ministry. Visit http://tmt.amigocentre.org/ for additional information, or contact Amigo Centre at 269.651.2811.

4.  Why settle for a job, when you can find your calling?  MVS invites you to join a faith community where you can begin your career with meaningful work.   Apply today at MennoniteMission.net/Serve.  

5.  The Fall 2013 issue of the Church Relations Update for Bethel College is now (finally!) available on the Bethel web site at the following address: http://www.bethelks.edu/_userfiles/1/files/BCChurchRelationsUpdate_Fall13.pdf .  This issue begins with an essay “In Praise of Student Chaplains,” and concludes with a press release about the 24-hour prayer event held on the Bethel campus the second week of November.

6. Cornelius Krahn Mennonite Multimedia Contest for High Schoolers: The Mennonite Life journal invites high school scholars and artists to submit essays, creative writing, multimedia projects, or original works of art or music on topics related to Mennonite and Anabaptist history, identity, or theology. Deadline: April 1, 2014. Cash prizes. A poster is attached to this email.  Details at http://mennonitelife.bethelks.edu

7.  AMBS Church Leadership Center – Register by Tuesday to save on Pastors Week and Clinics:

Help Me See Jesus! Help Me See, Jesus! (Pastors Week)

January 27-30, Early registration deadline is January 7

Leadership Clinic: How Dare We Call Ourselves Anabaptist?

Presenter: Maurice Martin; Monday, January 27, Early registration deadline is January 7

Leadership Clinic: Sex Offenders in My Church?

Presenters: Jeanette Harder and Nancy Kauffmann; Monday, January 27, Early registration deadline is January 7

Gathering for New Pastors

Presenters: Terry Shue and Karen Martens Zimmerly; Sunday evening, January 26, Monday, January 27, and lunch Thursday, January 30, Early registration deadline is January 7 

8. Register now for a short, two-day practical course in peacemaking:  “Managing Differences in Faith Communities” taught by Kirsten Zerger of Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, February 20-21, 8:30-5:00.  Credit for AMBS-Great Plains and Bethel College students; certificate option for congregational members–$300 per person–but sliding scale for multiple registrations from one congregation.  Call KIPCOR to register 316-284-5217.

9.  Bring or send your Campbell’s labels and Boxtops for Education for Hopi Mission School by January 20 to the Western District Conference office in North Newton, or to Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston.

10.  Was Paul really against sex?  How can the Psalms speak to our world today?  What is the story behind Paul’s dense theological statements?  These are but a few of the wonderful discussions set for the class Psalms and Epistles at Hesston College.  Join us on Jan. 24-26 and Mar. 20-23 (includes Thursday evening).  Call 620-327-8290 for more info, special rates and to register.

11.  “Footsteps of Paul” Tour to Greece, Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Athens and more – May 4-16, 2014 hosted by Pastor Weldon Martens. Price guaranteed until February 1. Call Weldon at 402-202-9276, Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, or www.travelwithweldon.com

12.  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 worshipping 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 – Jan. 24-26, Senior High 1 – Feb. 14-16, Senior High 2 – Mar. 14-16.

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