WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
May 28, 2013
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 – Celebrating Resurrection; Congregation Closing
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
The congregation sang songs of resurrection and God’s providing faithfulness. Pastor Lynn Schlosser simply stated that our gathering at Bergthal Mennonite Church, Pawnee Rock, on Sunday, May 26, was a funeral service marking the demise of the church. And as we do at funerals, we were going to celebrate the gift of resurrection and recall with joy the goodness of one that had lived a long and full life – 138 years to be exact.
This congregation was founded by pioneer Prussian Mennonites from Volhynia, Ukraine, who survived their first bitterly cold winter in boxcars provided by the railroad. It grew to become a thriving congregation of 250 or so in worship in the 1950s. Members built a sturdy brick church building on the windiest corner of Kansas graced with curved pews and stained glass windows just three miles north of Pawnee Rock.
The impact of this congregation in the Western District Conference, across the Mennonite church, and around the world was evidenced by the 350 guests who packed out the sanctuary and overflow for this Memorial Celebration Service. Persons remembered hot summer weddings with bowing candles as we sweltered in “only” 90-degree heat and 25 mile-per-hour winds.
How is it that this strong and vibrant congregation diminished to twelve committed folk who were still packing 1,500 school kits a year for MCC?
The depopulation of rural Kansas is a significant factor. In the pioneering days, farms were 40 acres. Today a farmer might be farming 4,000 acres.
Mennonites valued education and sent their children to college. Graduates sought employment in the cities where jobs could be found.
Prussian German Mennonites came to preserve their faith and their families. That fortress mentality made it difficult to share the faith and include nearby neighbors.
However, it didn’t prevent members of this congregation from going to the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus. Less than two years ago the congregation commissioned Marie and Don Gaeddert to serve with Mennonite Mission Network as English teachers in China who also encourage Chinese believers. They represent a host of mission and service workers, pastors and teachers who were discipled in Bergthal Mennonite Church and sent to the ends of the earth. Fittingly, the service began with these words:
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us –
so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
The service marked the coming end of Bergthal Mennonite Church. The building will be dismantled and the church remembered with a granite engraved marker in the nearby cemetery. But because of the resurrection every healing word, every redeeming action, every stewarding practice of the members of this congregation through the decades will be caught up and added to God’s grand restoration of all creation to the shalom of God (I Corinthians 15:58)…something God alone can see.
June 2 – Pray for Rosie Jantz who will be licensed towards ordination at Tabor Mennonite Church today. She will be serving as an Associate Pastor: Education and Pastoral Care.
June 9 – Praise God for the Year of the Bible website that will be serving all of Mennonite Church USA. Pray for Marlene Bogard, curator, and Caleb Regehr, technician, as they continue to select and post resources for churches. Pray for churches already utilizing the materials and engaging Scripture more intentionally.
June 16 – Pray God’s peace for Western District congregations transferring their membership to South Central Conference this weekend: Bethel Mennonite Church, Inman; Herold Mennonite Church, Cordell; and Metro Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City.
June 23 – Pray God’s wisdom for Western District Conference delegates participating in Phoenix 2013, “Citizens of God’s Kingdom,” the Mennonite Church USA Assembly meeting July 1-5.
June 30 – Praise God for the pastoral ministry of Bob Dalke who will be completing his 27 years of service at Buhler Mennonite Church today.
July 1-6 – Mennonite Church USA Assembly, Phoenix, AZ
Aug 1-2 – WDC Year of the Bible Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Aug 2-3 – WDC Annual Assembly 2013, “Shaped by God’s Story,” Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Sept 15 – Michael Novelli, Year of the Bible event for youth leaders, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Oct 26 – Reference Council
Oct 31 – New Pastor Orientation, WDC Office, North Newton, KS
Nov 1 – Prevention of Pastoral Misconduct, Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS
The June issue of Parish Paper entitled “Making Informed Decisions during Times of Change” can be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/resources/publications/parish-paper/
1. One week left! There’s just one week before Camp Mennoscah’s summer youth camps begin June 9. This means you still have a short bit of time to send in those registration forms for the beginning of summer and a bit longer for the last half of summer. Forms can be found online at www.campmennoscah.org or give us a call at 620-297-3290. It’s going to be an amazing summer!
2. Nurses needed! Camp Mennoscah will feed, clothe (as long as you only wear one camp tee shirt), lodge, and entertain nurses who are able to be a camp nurse for July 14-20 and July 21-27. We also offer a stipend or camper discount. This offer is too good to pass up. You won’t have another chance to spend time with nifty campers and cool staff folks until next summer. Give us a call at 620-297-3290. Your smiling face and wonderful knowledge & skill are needed!
Mennonite ChurchUSA Announcements
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 June. 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