September 9, 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)


*Pick My Brain

Pick My Brain – Let the Children Come…and Lead Us…

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

I recently preached on Matthew 19: 13 – 15 at Buhler Mennonite Church in connection with other resourcing on developing Safe Sanctuary policies.    Similar passages on Welcoming Children are found in Luke and Mark.  However, Matthew emphasizes that the people wanted Jesus to pray with the children, in addition to laying his hands on them.  The Matthew passage also portrays a Jesus who is a bit gentler to the disciples, since he does not place the stern warning on them that Mark does in a parallel passage.  The real, true message here is simple but weighty:  Jesus loves the little children, and this is very, very good news.

I looked at this passage from a variety of angles, but the primary one was…how do we Welcome Children?

Jesus actions of welcome, laying hands and prayer are powerful indicators that children are to be received into worship, into the entire life of the congregation, not only Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. These invitational actions of Jesus in Matthew 19 are a model for how we will interact with the children in our midst.

One of the things that I notice as I visit various congregations is the way that children and youth are noticed, included, invited and involved in the life of the congregation. Or not…  This past Sunday, I was heartened to see the children at Hope Mennonite, Wichita, be part of the blessing of the MCC School Kits.  In some congregations I have noted that family groups serve as greeters.  But there are many many times when I fear we have missed the boat in honoring, and including children and youth in the entire “church” experience.

So here are a few things for you as pastors and church leaders to ponder as you plan worship, as you consider your mission, as you act out your priorities:

  • Can all ages and all abilities fully participate in worship at their own capacity?  In what way?
  • Is there a variety of ways that all (and especially children) can engage with the worship theme or scripture?
  •  Are songs, words, announcements and sermons prepared in such a way that children and youth can understand and find them meaningful?
  • Are children and youth seen as full and valued participants?
  • Are children and youth invited to help plan worship or other church-wide events and celebrations? (Other than the annual “youth Sunday”)
  • Are children and youth asked for feedback on what they find meaningful during worship?
  • Do children and youth feel welcome to voice publicly their concerns and request prayer during the sharing time?
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly of all – what is our theology of children?  How do we understand their relationship with God? Depending on how we answer that has much to do with how we proceed with Christian Faith Formation. And, I might add – this is a basic and most wonderful conversation to have, but more on that another time! 🙂

Our approach to children may in fact be defined by how they lead us. Just this morning, retired pastor Florence Schloneger shared this tender story about children, worship and their humble approach to God. A few weeks ago, during a worship service on the theme of anointing and healing, Florence led the Children’s Time at Shalom Mennonite, Newton.

She shared, “At Shalom there is a small bench for the leader so he/she is on the level of the children.  After a few words of introduction which explained what we were doing that morning as worship (telling God who we are and then God responding to us), I asked the children to line up, tell their name to me and to God, then I would make the sign of the cross on their hands with oil and say these words from God to them:  (Name), I will love you forever.  All at once I realized all the children were in a perfectly straight line, kneeling and approaching me on their knees!  They automatically wanted to be on the same level as I, but it also felt like they instinctively knew something important about how we approach God–and that we all do it on the same level.  I continue to be blessed by the image of all those children approaching me on their knees for a blessing–all in a perfectly straight line.”

This holy moment, led by the children demonstrated their innate understanding of the Divine and their humble approach to God.  Who among us as adults would naturally drop to our knees? And then crawl on our knees to receive anointing?

Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children and those like them. Jesus is insistent that children are as valuable to God as adults.  If we go with this…then we must also say Children and Youth are not the future of the church – they too are the church!

I look forward to having many conversations with you in the coming year about Faith Formation with Children, Youth and Adults.  Bring it on!

WDC Announcements

1.  Pastors’ Day Apart – Online Registration is now posted at:  https://mennowdc.org/pastors-day-apart-october-30-2014/.

2.  Pastors:  Be not afraid.  Lack of funds for resources?  We have great new stuff, just waiting for your reserve.   Here is a sample:  Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor; Belief Without Borders: inside the minds of Spiritual but not Religious by Linda Mercadante; We Make the Road by Walking: a year-long quest for spiritual formation, reorientation and activation by Brian McLaren; David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and igods: how technology shapes our spiritual and social lives by Craig Detweiler.  Do not delay, call or email today.  316-283-6300 / crlib@mennowdc.org –  Marlene Bogard, for Western District Resource Library

3.  Mutual Aid Music!  The WDC Music Lending Library has multiple copies of over 450 anthems, ready for your choir or ensemble.  Plan now for Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas!.  You can view the entire library at:  https://mennowdc.org/library/music-library/ or stop in and we will guide you.

4.  Attention Church Offices:  The WDC Garden is a newsletter (6 issues per year) sent to churches in bulk for distribution to its members.  We recommend that these be distributed either as bulletin inserts or in church mailboxes.  Please check the number of copies you receive… it is too many?  not enough?  just right?  Just let us know (email us at wdc@mennowdc.org) if you’d like more or fewer copies.

5.  We’re celebrating Camp Mennoscah and the wonderful experiences that happen there at our Annual Meeting on Sept. 20!  We hope you will join us at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton at 5 pm for a light supper.  Good food will be followed by interesting, informative reports, an election of new board members, and PASTORS LOVE CAMP:  a talent night featuring Renee Kanagy, Barb and Richard Krehbiel-Gehring, Cynthia and Roger Neufeld-Smith, Heidi Regier-Kreider, Peter and Katherine Goerzen, and Susan Jantzen.

6.  Harvest may be over, but we’re cropping away at our Scrapbooking Retreats!  (We’re so horribly punny.)  Camp Mennoscah has two retreats this fall for scrapbookers of all skill levels on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 and Nov. 14-16.  Search for those boxes of pictures or grab your computer and join us for a fun weekend of sessions, fellowship, and all the time you want to crop!  Registration forms can be found at www.campmennoscah.org in the Retreats section.

7.  Camp Mennoscah’s Day of Volunteering is Sept. 13 and Work & Play Camp is Sept. 14-15.  We know it’s last minute, but you’re welcome to join us for coffee breaks, fun times, and various camp projects.  Give us a call at 620-297-3290 to let us know that you’re coming.  It’s going to be a great time!

8. Camp Mennoscah seeks a person who loves Camp to work 30 hours a week as Office Assistant. Under direction of the Camp Director, the job responsibilities include scheduling reservations, entering camp/retreat registration data, assisting with accounting tasks, working with guest groups to meet their needs, sharing in custodial tasks and weekend hosting as assigned by Camp Director. To apply, please email resume and cover letter to campmno@mennowdc.org, or mail same to Olivia Bartel, Camp Director, P.O. Box 65, 9458 SE 40th Street, Murdock, KS 67111. Deadline is September 30.

9.  Burrton (KS) Mennonite Church is placing their church building on the market. It is in a high visibility location right along Hwy 50 with a main floor foyer, restrooms, and elevator added in 2011. Contact Ronald Dick 620-200-4320, The church is planning their closing celebration for January 4, 2015.

Mennonite Church USA Announcements

1.  Immigration. The word is tossed around and debated in our media, government, classrooms, and churches.  What are the basic facts about U.S. immigration?  Who are the people involved?  What does the Bible have to say to us as Christians about immigration?  What role might we fill as Anabaptists within this age-old challenge?  These questions and more are unpacked in the Bible study, Radical Hospitality:  responding to the issue of immigration. This free resource is specifically designed to be flexible and accessible — all materials are available below for download and the curriculum can be customized to meet your group’s needs.  The core curriculum is based on 5 videos (each 15-20 mins) with the accompanying Resource Guide.  This resource is ideal for adult Sunday School classes, small fellowship groups, weekend adult Bible Schools, and congregational in-services.  http://www.mennoniteusa.org/what-we-do/immigration/radical-hospitality-discussion-guide/.

2.  Job Opportunity – Executive Director for Mennonite Women USA Mennonite Women USA seeks a strong, visionary leader and fund-raiser to direct the overall mission and vision of empowering women and women’s groups within the Mennonite church. The executive director supervises dispersed staff and coordinates and develops the various ministries, programs, publications and promotional material. This full-time position requires working independently but also part of a team, excellent verbal and written skills, including public speaking, and ability to build relationships with people of diverse backgrounds. Involves travel. See full description at mwusa.org. Send inquiries or resumes to Kathy Bilderback at kabilderback@cableone.net by September. 30.

3.  Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders, presented by Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, will be held Oct. 6-10 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The institute is designed to equip church leaders with the skills necessary to deal effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict.  It also includes a component on congregational mediation and consultation, placed within the context of family systems theory.  Register by Sept. 22 to save $100.  www.LMPeaceCenter.org.

4.  Please join AMBS Church Leadership Center for…

Anabaptist Short Course: Exploring Anabaptist History and Theology

Online, 6 weeks, $200

Jamie Pitts

October 22-December 3

Explore the birth and development of the Anabaptist movement in the 16th century, including their theological, social and political contexts. Look at interpretations of “Anabaptism” and its meaning today. Students will be challenged to draw connections between the 16th century and their own life and ministry. Get details and register by October 1

Workshop: Advent Planner

“Oh, That You Would Reveal Your Mystery”

Rachel Miller Jacobs, Rosanna McFadden, Allan Rudy-Froese

Saturday, October 11

Using the Mennonite Church Advent theme, “Oh, That You Would Reveal Your Mystery,” this planner introduces pastors, worship leaders and musicians to lectionary-based resources for the season of Advent and Christmas. Worship resources published in Leader magazine provide foundation for exploring ideas and Scripture presentations, visuals, children’s time, prayers and music. Get details and register by September 28

Online Seminar: Advent Planning

“Oh, That You Would Reveal Your Mystery”

Rachel Miller Jacobs

Thursday, October 16, 7:30-8:45 p.m.  EDT

Get details and register by October 11

Business Leaders and Pastors: 

Partners in Leadership and Ministry? (Winnipeg, MB)

Presenter: David B. Miller

Location: The Fairmont Winnipeg (Manitoba) in conjunction with convention of Mennonite Economic Development Associates

Thursday, November 6, 12:30-5 p.m. CST

Learn more

Seminary Virtual Fair

If you are curious about seminary but can’t schedule a campus visit soon, start with the Seminary and Theological Virtual Fair on Sept. 17. We will have faculty, students and admissions staff ready to answer your questions. Register online (it’s free), and then get ready to chat or “listen” in as others chat about study and life at AMBS. If you know someone else with interest or gifts for ministry, encourage him or her sign up for the Virtual Fair and begin exploring.

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