November 25, 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)



*Your Charitable Contributions


Your Charitable Contributions

by Phyllis Regier, WDC Business Manager

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and tax time will be here soon. Below are 6 things every church member should know about their charitable contributions. These points come from Richard Hammar, Church Law and Tax Report, Christianity Today.

  1. If I make a contribution in early 2015, can I claim it on my 2014 taxes? No. charitable contributions must be claimed in the year in which they are delivered.
  2. If I mail my contribution in December 2014, but it doesn’t reach my church until January 2015, for which year should I claim it? On your 2014 tax return. A check that is mailed to a charity is deductible in the year the check is mailed (and postmarked), even if it is received early the next year.
  3. Can I deduct the value of volunteer work I did for the church? No. the value of personal services is never deductible as a charitable contribution. However, unreimbursed expenses you incur in performing services on behalf of the church or other charities may be. You can also use a “standard mileage rate” of 14 cents to compute a deduction for any miles you drive in performing services for your church. Be sure to maintain accurate records.
  4. Can I deduct registration for a church retreat from my taxes? No, assuming you received benefits (e.g., lodging, instruction, materials) worth the amount of the registration. Charitable contributions generally are deductible only to the extent they exceed the value of any premium or benefit received by the donor in return for the contribution.
  5. Is there any limit to the amount of my contributions I can deduct on my taxes? Yes. A contribution deduction ordinarily cannot exceed 50 percent of a donor’s adjusted gross income (a 30 percent rule applies in some cases). Donors who exceed these limits may be able to “carry over” their excess contribution and deduct it in future years.
  6. What kind of record do I need in order to prove I made a contribution?
    For individual contributions of less than $250: you must have a bank record (such as a cancelled check) or a receipt from the church or non-profit containing the church’s name and the date and amount of each cash contribution.

                For individual contributions (cash or property) of $250 or more: You must receive a written receipt from your church or non-profit that includes the organization’s name, the date and amount of each contribution, and states whether you received goods or services for your contributions (and if so, a description and good faith estimate of the value of the goods or services received). If you received no goods or services for the contributions, then the receipt must say so or indicate that only “intangible religious benefits” were received. If you’ve made individual contributions of $250 or more, don’t file your federal income tax return until you receive a contribution statement that satisfies these requirements. Otherwise, your contributions may not be deductible. Canceled checks cannot be used to substantiate cash contributions of $250 or more.

WDC Announcements

  1. Churches and pastors are encouraged to use the resources and survey report from Reference Council for conversation in Sunday School classes or the congregation as a whole. They are posted at https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#Reference. The Reference Council focused on polity as a way to clarify the implications of the resolution from Rainbow Mennonite Church. The purpose of the resolution is “to remove pressure from our pastors regarding officiating same sex marriages.  Such activity would be locally determined by the individual congregations and only allowed under clear affirmation by the congregation.”

    2.  Persons interested in launching a new church are invited to join current church planters for a retreat day on Friday, Dec. 12, 1:30 PM – 9:00 PM at the Cross Wind Conference Center, Hesston, KS. Go to https://mennowdc.org/church-planting-retreat/ to register. Food and lodging will be provided by the Church Planting Commission. Sign up by Wednesday, November 26.

    3.  Calling all Church Planting Dreamers! We need your sign up by tomorrow, November 26, for the Church Planting Dreamers Advance at the Cross Wind Conference Center, Hesston, KS, Saturday, Dec. 13, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM. This is for those who serve on Church Planter Support Committees, Sister Church Committees, church Mission Committees, financial supporters, and persons wanting to explore church planting for themselves or their congregations. Please tap someone on the shoulder to represent your congregation. Chet Miller Eshleman, LifeBridge planter and pastor from Dover, Ohio, will be our primary guide. Register online at https://mennowdc.org/church-planting-advance-december-13-2014/.

  1. Pastor’s Lunch Table Talk Conversation with Elsie Rempel, Christian Formation Consultant with Mennonite Church Canada, on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 12:30 pm at Bethel College Mennonite Church Fellowship Hall, North Newton, KS.  Bring your own lunch, drinks provided.  Elsie has just completed a booklet:  “Come Lord Jesus, be our Host,” which provides reflections and tools  to guide your conversations as you navigate the waters of change that many of us experience as we gather around the theology and practice of Communion and the Lord’s Table. Elsie says, “My hope is that it will help congregations articulate what they believe about communion and faithfully celebrate it as a tradition that helps form and celebrate faith for all ages.”  Call / email to sign up:  mbogard@mennowdc.org / 316-283-6300
  2. Gilberto Flores, WDC Associate Conference Minister, will retire on January 31, 2015.  Everyone is invited to wish him well at a farewell on January 18, 2015, 5 pm at First Mennonite Church, Newton, KS.  Faspa will be served.
  3. Look!  Bathhouses!  Work has begun on the new bath houses at Camp Mennoscah.  Block is being laid and the bath houses are beginning to actually look like buildings.  Take a peek on the Camp Mennoscah Facebook page.
  1. We know what you’re missing!  If you and your family, small group, or congregation have never had a retreat at Camp Mennoscah, you’re missing out on what we call “great fun!” We’re biased, but Camp Mennoscah is an absolutely snazzy place for being with others, watching wildlife, and discovering God.  Contact us at 620-297-3290 to schedule a reunion or retreat.  Don’t miss out!
  2. The Tabor Mennonite Youth Fellowship will share their annual living nativity, Night in the Barn, on December 20 and 21 from 6-8 pm. The llama that gives kisses, the big cow with her little calf, the sheep wearing bells, and the donkeys that share their love of people—these are a few of the critters who will assemble in the barn of Maynard Knepp and Carol Duerksen. The come-and-go event will feature unique perspectives from the innkeeper and a shepherd, and Christmas carols. Visitors are welcome to gather around a bonfire and enjoy hot drinks as part of the evening’s activities. Admission is free and donations to the youth group will be accepted.  Directions:  From Goessel: 3 miles north on Hwy 15, 4 miles east on 150th, ¾ north on Falcon. From Hillsboro, 4 miles south on Indigo, 3 west on 150th, ¾ north on Falcon. From McPherson, Hwy 56 to Hwy 15 south, 5 miles on Hwy 15 to 150th, 4 miles east on 150th and ¾ north on Falcon. (Follow these directions and not GPS directions.) For more information, call 620-386-0709.
  1. The WDC Office will be closed November 27 and 28 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mennonite Church Announcements
1.  Attached is the Mennonite Church USA convention November newsletter. Great things are in store as things come together for KC2015 (June 30-July 5, 2015).

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 December. 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.

  1. Mennonite Church USA Executive Board Staff wishes you a blessed Thanksgiving.  At this time of year, we want to let each of you know how grateful we are that you have chosen to be a part of this church and journey with us.  May you also find time to celebrate all God’s good gifts in your life this weekend!

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