WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
July 29, 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:
*Clarence’s Clarion Call
Clarence’s Clarion Call – Why Have Communion First?
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
“Why do we have communion in our first worship service instead of the finale of our worship?” The question came from one of the delegates at our recent Western District Conference Assembly in Waxahachie, Texas. I am not sure what I said in response, but here are some subsequent reflections.
I like starting out with communion as a declaration of our primary allegiance and our essential identity. We are an “in Christ” people. The phrase appears some ninety times in the New Testament as a primary designation for the people of God. Even the church at Corinth with all of its messiness was an in Christ church. This church had cliques that gave allegiance to human leaders. There was sexual disorder – a brother living in incest and members going to prostitutes. They had people getting drunk and pigging out at communion while poor folks had nothing to eat. They had lawsuits between members. Their worship services were disruptive and riotous. The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the church by audaciously declaring their essential identity.
“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who all on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours” (I Corinthians 1:2). In an amazing affirmation of this disreputable church, Paul continues, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus” (vs. 4).
So whatever our present messes, misbehaviors, and conflicts, we are in Christ. We need this bold reminder. Whatever we might be on the fringe – progressive or conservative, orthodox or neo-Anabaptist – we are at the core of our being in Christ. We are at the core of our relationships together in Christ.
Communion also reminds us that we belong to God and each other by God’s grace. We didn’t arrive by our right behaviors, our right attitudes, and our right convictions. We arrived as sinners in need of forgiveness. Some of us came needing to be saved from our goodnesses like Paul (Philippians 3:4-11) and some of us needed to be saved from our evils like Paul (I Timothy 1:13-17). Communion guides us to the humility of the tax collector, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). And humility prepares us to engage better with one another particularly in times of profound disagreements.
So it seems good to begin with communion to embrace our essential identity as in Christ and to confess our essential need for Christ.
Aug 3 – Pray for our Youth Pastors, Youth Sponsors, and Youth Mentors as they begin a new year in encouraging our youth to follow Jesus in all of life.
Aug 10 – Pray for Dwight Regier, our Western District Conference Youth Ministry Network Leader, as he encourages and guides youth pastors in their monthly gatherings and in one-on-one meetings.
Aug 17 – Pray for John Tyson who will be installed today as Associate Pastor of Faith Formation at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS.
Aug 24 – Pray for the Discernment Task Force of Western District Conference as they compile hundreds of survey returns in response to the resolution from Rainbow Mennonite Church and prepare to lead the November Reference Council.
Aug 31 – Pray for the new Church Planting Commission as they receive orientation to the theology, principles, and practices of developing new churches.
August 16 – Day on the Farm, Knepp/Duerksen farm, rural Hillsboro, KS
October 30 – Pastors’ Day Apart, Location to be determined
November 15 – Reference Council, eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, KS
The August issue of Parish Paper, entitled “Do Your Mission and Method Fit Your Size?” can now be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.
1. We ask all members and participants of Western District Conference churches to participate in an online survey with 20 questions in regard to our Confession of Faith, Membership Guidelines of Mennonite Church USA, polity, and sexuality. English and Spanish versions can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WDCopinion. This is the beginning of a discernment process responding to a resolution from Rainbow Mennonite Church. The resolution can be found at mennowdc.org under ASSEMBLY 2014.
2. Here’s your chance to enjoy one more rousing round of camp songs! Feel the spirit as Rachel Miller and others lead us in our annual Camp Sing August 10 at 6 pm at Shalom Mennonite Church. Greg Shelley and Michael Unruh will host us as we re-connect with friends, staff and volunteers from this summer’s Youth Camps! Don’t miss the food, fun and music next Sunday!
3. The Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah is August 31-September 1, 2014. This retreat is for those affected by mental illness, including family and friends. The brochure can be found online at www.campmennoscah.org in the Retreats section or call 620-297-3290. We’ll have a hayrack ride, swimming, all sorts of fun and fellowship, and sessions with Laurie Oswald Robinson, freelance writer and inspirational speaker.
4. Hi, Trusty Volunteers! Camp Mennoscah’s annual Work & Play Camp is September 14-17, 2014. We’re looking forward to a lot of good fellowship and time spent sprucing up the camp grounds. More information will be available soon!
(For Kansas Churches)
5. Day on the Farm is on Saturday August 16! It’s a wonderful opportunity for all generations to explore and experience rural life, complete with cattle, goats, rabbits, poultry and exotic creatures. Starts at 10 AM, and includes lunch. Admission is free but there will be an opportunity for donations for the ministry of Agri-Urban which supports Bethel College, Mennonite Church USA and Western District Conference. The event is held at the Duerksen/Knepp farm, 1582 Falcon, Hillsboro, KS. See more details on the WDC website mennowdc.org under the Events tab.
Mennonite Church USA Announcements
1. Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and the Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA invites you to “Conversations for Peace in Palestine and Israel,” at Journey Mennonite Church on Friday, Sept. 5, 7-9 pm and Hesston Mennonite Church on Saturday, Sept. 6, 9:30-11:30 am. J. Daryl Byler, a former MCC representative in the Middle East and current executive director for Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacemaking, will share from his experience and facilitate the conversation.
2. 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 August. 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.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620