September 30, 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)


*Clarence’s Clarion Call
*Prayer Requests
*Coming Events
*Parish Paper

Clarence’s Clarion Call – Healthy, Missional Churches

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

When I became Conference Minister, I named “resourcing healthy, missional churches” as one of the core tasks for the Western District. I described healthy churches then as:

  • Churches growing in spiritual vitality with God and in caring community with each other.
  • Churches reaching out to the unchurched.
  • Churches with good processes of making decisions and dealing with conflict.
  • Churches serving people in their community.
  • Churches engaged in God’s global redeeming mission.
  • Churches training new leaders and calling new pastors.

I suppose it’s a good list for describing a healthy church, but when I come to the healthy church list in I Peter 4:7-11, it’s simpler and even more basic. Here is the Apostle Peter’s list for a healthy church. Pray, love each other, offer hospitality, and serve with the gifts God has given you. Pray, love, welcome, serve. These are the essentials of grace-filled, healthy churches.

Prayers of praise and petition seem to be at the heart of the church worship services I experience in my travel across Western District. Prayer requests are named weekly in bulletins or emails or on websites. I get to hear and share stories of new missional initiatives birthed in prayer including all of our current church plants – Aposento Alto in Wichita, Camino de Santidad in Liberal, KS, and Grace Mennonite in Gladewater, TX. Amazing stories!

Secondly, in healthy churches people love each other deeply (vs. 8). How do we stay in relationship when we disagree with one another as believers? It’s a challenge for us in Western District Conference as we consider ministry with LGBTQ persons. Love isn’t the whole answer, but it is a critical component.

To paraphrase Jesus, “What’s special about hanging together with just like-minded people? Even the pagans do that.”  “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Love, therefore, as your heavenly Father loves” (Matthew 5:46-48). Love each other deeply.

The third characteristic of a healthy church is its hospitality quotient. The phrase translated offer hospitality (vs. 9) literally means to love the stranger. Our welcome of immigrants is one test of our hospitality quotient. Often the test is will we make room in our schedule, in our pew, in our home, our small group, our Sunday School class for that new visitor?

And finally, healthy churches, serve others “as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (vs. 10). Peter names both speaking gifts and serving gifts, gifts of communication and gifts of construction, gifts of the head and gifts of the hand. Healthy churches need both, bless both, and use both as gifts of God’s grace.

Pray, love, welcome, serve.  How healthy are we?

Prayer Requests

October 5 – Pray for our Western District Conference representatives – Clarence Rempel, Conference Minister, Richard Gehring, WDC Moderator, and Byron Pellecer, Church Planter – meeting with the Constituency Leaders Council of Mennonite Church USA in Chicago, October 6-8. Discernment regarding the future shape of Mennonite Church USA and potential decisions for Kansas City 2015 will be the focus of this gathering.

October 12 – Pray God’s blessing on Philip Schmidt who will be ordained to pastoral ministry at Tabor Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS.

October 19 – Pray God’s blessing on Nathan Koontz who will be ordained to pastoral ministry at First Mennonite Church, Hutchinson, KS.

October 26 – Pray for the pastors of Western District Conference who will be meeting for a Pastors Day Apart on Thursday, October 30 – “Cultivating an Incarnational Church.”

Coming Events
Oct 30 – Pastors’ Day Apart, Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Nov 14-16 – Discipleship Now, Wichita, KS
Nov 15 – 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 26, 2015 – Children’s Choir Festival, Newton, KS
Fall, 2015 (Specific date to be determined) – WDC Annual Assembly

Parish Paper

The October issue of Parish Paper, entitled “How Can We Prevent Suicide?” can now be viewed at:  https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.

WDC Announcements

1.  “Cultivating an Incarnational Church” is the focus for Pastors Day Apart, Thursday, October 30, at Shalom Mennonite Church, 9 AM – 3 PM. Brad Brisco, author of Missional Essentials and The Missional Quest, will focus on transitioning existing congregations in a missional direction. Brad says, “You will receive resourcing to help everyday Christians who are searching to follow Jesus and live their faith in the real world to better understand and practice what it means to live with mission in the normal routines of their daily lives.” Register online at https://mennowdc.org/pastors-day-apart-october-30-2014/ by October 22. Cost is $30.

2.  Step out of life in the fast lane and see what’s coming in the other direction!  Discipleship Now – a retreat for high school students who want to grow as followers of Jesus.  Service, Bible Study, Community, Prayer, Silence. Save the date –  November 14-16 in Wichita, KS.  Sponsored by South Central/Western District Conference Youth Ministry.  More info at:  https://mennowdc.org/discipleship-now/

3.  The Western District Reference Council will meet on Saturday, November 15, at Eden Mennonite Church. The WDC Discernment Task Force will report the results of the recent WDC Survey regarding authority, polity and sexuality. Further discernment will focus on polity – the relationships of congregational, conference, and denominational authority. This Reference Council is open to members and participants of WDC congregations in addition to WDC commissions and committees and pastors. Register online at https://mennowdc.org/wdc-reference-council/ or call 316-283-6300.

4.  “A Catalyst Retreat for Church Planting” is being planned for December 12-13, at the Cross Wind Conference Center, Hesston, KS. Friday, December 12, will be for church planters and potential church planters and spouses. Saturday, December 13, will expand to include church planting dreamers, sister church representatives, church planting support committee representatives, and anyone with a heart for new church development. Chet Miller Eshleman, church planter and pastor of Life Bridge Community Church, Dover, Ohio, will be the primary resource person.


5.  New Email Address for Camp Mennoscah–Camp Mennoscah has a new email address.  Please use office@campmennoscah.org beginning immediately.  Thank you!

6.  Boards Out!  Camp Mennoscah will be removing the dam from the Ninnescah River on Sunday, October 5, at approximately 2pm.  Spectators and volunteers welcome!

7.  Camp Mennoscah still has openings for the Fall Scrapbooking Retreats on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 and Nov. 14-16.  These retreats often fill up, so grab your registration form at www.campmennoscah.org under Retreats and send it in!  It’s a whole weekend of cropping fun.
Mennonite Church USA Announcements

1.  Please use the following announcement in your church bulletin and /or newsletter on October 5 & 12: The Bethel College Women’s Association Market on the Green Committee is asking for donations of ethnic foods, poppy seed rolls, zwiebach, homemade noodles, pies, and other baked goods and home grown produce for the Bethel College Fall Festival on Saturday, October 18, 2014.  Please bring your items to the large tent on the north side of the Green anytime Saturday morning after 7:30 a.m.   Also, NEW this year will be a large canvas tote with the Bethel logo embroidered on it, and a NEW jewelry item of a Bethel College icon.  The A BC ABC Book, (a limerick book of Bethel life and lore), anniversary picnic baskets and anniversary T-shirts,  stadium seats, cookbooks, Lithuanian candle house replicas of Goerz House and the CD “Nights of Wonder”, which features music selections from previous BC Christmas Fests will also be available for sale.  Come check out the delicious food items and start your Christmas shopping early with the many gift items!

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 MONTH. MEA also posts these prayer requests on its website.

3.  Rural Ministry Seminar: The Mission of a Rural Congregation: Western District Conference, in conjunction with Central Plains Mennonite Conference and AMBS-Kansas Center will  host a Rural Ministry Seminar on Saturday, January 24, 2015 from 8 – noon at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston, KS. This seminar is presented by expert S. Roy Kaufman and will explore the unique mission of the church inf a rural context. This seminar will include lecture, case studies, discussion groups, and a catered lunch. Cost is $39 per individual and $100 per congregation to bring an unlimited number of congregation members.  This seminar will be held in conjunction with a one-hour AMBS seminary course taught by S. Roy Kaufman. This course will meet January 20 and 22 from 6:30 – 9:30pm and January 24 from 8 – 4:30. In addition to discussing the mission of a rural congregation, the course will also explore preaching and pastoral care in a rural setting, as well as the prophetic calling of rural ministry. This course is designed especially for pastors and congregational leaders in a rural context. This course is available for credit or audit. Please see www.ambs.edu/ruralministry or contact kccoordinator@ambs.edu for more information.

4.  Advent Planning Webinar:  WDC and AMBS-Kansas Center will host an Advent Planning Webinar on Thursday, October 16, from 6:30-7:45 pm.  This webinar is presented by Rachel Miller Jacobs, AMBS Assistant Professor of Congregational Formation.  This webinar will explore creative ideas for scripture, visuals, sermons, children’s worship and music for resources published in the Leader magazine with the theme, “Oh, that you would reveal your mystery.”  A brief discussion will follow to provide space for participants to share ideas on how they plan to use the Advent material in their own congregations.  This webinar will be hosted in the WDC offices.  Cost is $10 per participant.  Apple Cider and Peppernuts will be provided.  Please register by October 15 by emailing Katherine Goerzen at kccoordinator@ambs.edu.

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