WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
October 28, 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 – Avoid, Pursue, Tend
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
Some Christians strongly believe that people in covenanted same sex relationships must be included in congregational life. They hold this view out of deep conviction that what they believe is rooted in faith in Jesus. Some Christians strongly believe that covenanted same sex relationship is a violation of God’s will. They hold this view out of equally deep conviction about God’s will revealed in Scripture. And these Christians both live in the fellowship of Western District Conference. That was clear from the results of the Discernment Task Force Survey conducted in August. Among the 1,700 respondents, half agreed with the Confession of Faith assertion, “We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.” And nearly half disagreed with many calling for a statement that would make room for same sex covenants. Full results will be reported at Reference Council on Saturday, November 15, at Eden Mennonite Church. What do we do in the midst of profound ethical disagreements?
Let me offer three responses from an essay on Romans 14-15 by Glenn Brubacher shared at Constituency Leaders Council, in Chicago, October 6-8.
- One thing to avoid – Don’t despise or judge those with whom you disagree. Don’t despise conservatives or judge liberals. Don’t quarrel over disputable matters (14:1). Quoting Brubacher, “Obviously, when differences of faith emerge they must be talked about. But Paul tells us that these interchanges may not elevate into quarrels, alienating disputes. Some attitudes and their associated activities inflame quarrels/disputes: despising, that is looking down on others, considering them unfaithful or insignificant; and judging, dismissing them as unworthy of fellowship (14:3). Neither despising nor judging is acceptable because the Lord welcomes and blesses (14:6).” Leave the judging to God. “We will all give an account of ourselves to God” (14:12).
- One thing to pursue – Welcome others who do not share your views (14:1). “The word ‘welcome’ best expresses the spirit of the whole text. Unity is not only willingness to sit in the same room but even more to practice the comfortable and relaxed fellowship created by God….God welcomes people who exercise a variety of ways of thinking and so must members of the community of Christ (14:1,7-9; 15:7),” according to Brubacher. “‘Welcome’ suggests a spirited invitation, an energetic embrace, a joyous encounter of people who know they belong together.”
- One thing to tend – Tend your own convictions; focus less on the convictions of others. “Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds” (14:5). A self-differentiated Paul clearly shared his own convictions regarding eating meat – no problem (14:14). “In 14:22b, 23 Paul wrote, ‘Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith (conviction in the footnote); for whatever does not come from faith (conviction) is sin.’”
My prayer for the Western District Conference and for the anticipated Reference Council comes from Romans 15:5-7 TNIV. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [May we] accept one another, then just as Christ accepted [us]” (adapted).
Nov 2 – Pray for the search for an Associate Conference Minister for Texas with assignment as the Director of Church Planting.
Nov 9 – Pray for the gathering of Western Conference and congregational representatives at Reference Council on Saturday. The focus will be on who we are (the WDC Survey report) and how we can be together (polity) as congregations of differing conviction.
Nov 16 – Pray for Dwight Regier, WDC Youth Ministry Network Leader, as he leads the Discipleship Now Retreat this weekend at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS.
Nov 23 – Give thanks to God for God’s good provisions and for the strong financial giving for Western District Conference ministries of pastoral support, congregational resourcing, and church planting.
Nov 30 – Pray for David Stevens who will be installed as pastor today at Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS.
Nov 14-16 – Discipleship Now, Wichita, KS
Nov 15 – WDC Reference Council, Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, KS
Dec 12-13 – Church Planting Retreat/Advance, Cross Wind Conference Center, Hesston, KS
Jan 24, 2015 – Rural Ministry Seminar
Jan 31-Feb 1, 2015 – Know Jesus, Hesston College
April 11, 2015 – WDC Reference Council
April 26, 2015 – Children’s Choir Festival, Newton, KS
June 12-13, 2015 – Anabaptist Faith Formation – Growing in Christ – Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Oct 30-31, 2015 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
The November issue of Parish Paper, entitled “Should We Consider Closing Our Church?” can now be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.
- Church planting dreamers, sister church representatives, church planting support committee representatives, and anyone with a heart for new church development is invited to the Church Planting Dreamers Advance on Saturday, December 13, at the Cross Wind Conference Center at Hesston, KS. Chet Miller-Eshleman, planter and pastor, of LifeBridge Community Church, Dover, OH will be the primary resource person along with others. Register online at www.mennowdc.org/church-planting-advance/. [Please reproduce the attached brochure and distribute it to Mission/Outreach Committees and interested persons in your congregation.]
2. Need a sermon series idea? Here are five FREE bite-sized videos: engaging, timely interview clips with seasoned conflict negotiator John Paul Lederach, related to the relaunch of his book, Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians. Lederach has worked on reconciliation issues in 25 countries across five continents. Use the segments for a sermon series, small group, or Sunday school class discussion. Blogger Christian Piatt recorded a longer interview with Lederach, then provided these shorter segments on the following themes:
Bite 1: Why Reconcile, Now? http://youtu.be/EpEyimH6Cq4
Bite 2: Bill and Lynne Hybels Support http://youtu.be/k4BNSOEHT14
Bite 3: A New Understanding of John 3:16 http://youtu.be/EMynX28pewM
Bite 4: The Power of Story http://youtu.be/cpecL2wQZVM
Bite 5: What About Tragedies Such As Ferguson (Mo.)? http://youtu.be/dKlzZfTcfBA
Entire interview: John Paul Lederach (new version) http://youtu.be/CN1DNehshhs
- Know Jesus 2015, is a weekend retreat for Jr. High (6th-8th grade) students to worship together and learn more about their Anabaptist roots. Organized by Western District and South Central Conference Youth Ministry Committee, it will be hosted by Hesston College January 31-February 1, 2015. Distance discount available if driving 100+ miles one way! See attached information or visit: www.mennowdc.org/know-jesus-2015 Register and pay online OR print attached forms. (Early bird registration by January 8 saves $10 per person; absolute deadline is January 22.) Need more info? Contact Isaac Landis at firstname.lastname@example.org, 620-951-4035.
- Dunns Plus One (Kathy Neufeld Dunn-vocals, Ann Dunn-violin, Michael Dunn-bass, Faith Wenger-piano) “From Bluegrass Gospel to Broadway” fundraising concert will be held Friday, November 7 at 7 pm at First Mennonite Church, 1161 E Ave A, McPherson, KS. Funds raised will support some tech updates at First Mennonite Church.
- PET Recipient Reception Tuesday, Nov 11, 7 pm, First Mennonite Church, 1161 E Avenue A, McPherson. Suen Oke, 26, from Nigeria will share the joy of mobility because of her PET (Personal Energy Transportation) device. PETs are made in Moundridge and delivered around the globe. Donations are welcome to help with her expenses. For more information, visit petkansas.org.
Mennonite Church USA Announcements
- Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) Pastors Week is an annual event devoted to providing resources in ministry, biblical studies and/or theology for pastors and other church leaders. It’s a week rich with worship, inspiring presentations, networking and renewal for those who devote their time to serving their congregations. The theme ” Where culture blurs theology: What is an Anabaptist Christian?” will be addressed at Pastors Week January 26–29, 2015 on the AMBS campus in Elkhart, IN. For information: http://www.ambs.edu/churchleadershipcenter/pastors-week.cfm. To carpool from Kansas, contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn at 620-755-4331.
- The organizing committee of Anabaptist Songwriting Challenge (ASC) is extending the deadline for song submissions to January 1, 2015. Recognizing that promotional material for the challenge has not reached the expected number of congregations and communities, organizers are extending promotion as well as the deadline. They are including Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Brethren and Church of the Brethren as well as MC USA audiences. “We want to ask you to help spread the word about this great opportunity for composers to send in their songs,” committee member Jaime Lazaro says. To this date, ASC has received songs from composers in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana and Oregon. “We would love to have every state and ethnic group represented in this competition”, adds Lazaro. The ASC team notes that this challenge is for songwriters and that their compositions do not need to be professionally recorded or performed, because the jury will primarily analyze the melody and lyrics of the submitted song rather than the performance of the song. “Even a cell phone can be used to record a composer’s song”, points out Tory Doerksen, jury coordinator. Ten songs will be posted online for congregational use. Three of those songs will be sung at Kansas City 2015, with prizes of $1,000 dollars each awarded to composers of the three songs. For more information visit: http://www.anabaptistsongwritingchallenge.org/
- Interested in learning about how your congregation can support the important work of the Center for Conscience in Action (http://centerforconscience.org/)? Members of CCA would love to come to speak at a Sunday school or even a worship service in your congregation, particularly on issues of conscientious objection, peace activism, and broader concerns of social justice. Contact James Branum, Minister of Peace & Justice, Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City (email@example.com; 405-236-4938).
- Dove’s Nest (www.DovesNest.net) is hosting its first national “Protecting our Children and Youth” Conference/Worship gathering in Omah4. a, NE, November 7-9. An exciting line up includes keynote speaker, Deondra Brown (more info here), and eight breakout sessions featuring speakers from across the country addressing a host of topics related to protecting children and youth in faith communities. There will be times of worship, reflection, networking, and a special evening banquet on Saturday. CEUs are offered for social workers, counselors, pastors, and others. Registration, which covers snacks and meals on Saturday, is only $50, through October 24. A flyer with additional information is attached. More information, including online registration, is also available at this link: www.DovesNest.net/2014Conference.
5. 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 November. 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