WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
April 21, 2015
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:
by Howard Garver, WDC Associate Conference Minister
What if 100 new churches were begun over a 10 year period, more than doubling the number of churches in WDC? Would they be north – Kansas and Nebraska? Or would they be south, in Oklahoma and Texas? Would they be small or large? Would they be English-speaking or would some other language be spoken? Would they be in an urban or rural area? This was an exercise the Church Planting Commission did the second night of meetings to learn, dream and plan together.
Monday evening, April 13, the Commission met to “Think Together” – the theme of the evening. We all brought preconceived notions about which approach would work best or where we should focus. So we began by laying some of these ideas on the table to see what shared paradigms we held. This gave us an opportunity to talk candidly about the past and current church planting projects. We wrestled with how “missional” church planting concepts may work themselves out from a Mennonite perspective.
The following evening, Tuesday, the theme of the time together was “Plan Together”. Since the Commission’s formation the focus has been on understanding our role and supporting the existing church planting projects. The specific steps to help “churches plant churches” has not yet been defined. We talked about identifying, assessing and developing church planters. We talked about funding challenges and ways to help every church in the Conference play a part in church planting.
It was during this planning discussion that we did the “What if …” exercise. Each member of the Commission (Violeta Ajquejay, Nita Nikkel, Virgil Penner, Lici Roth, Lee Suderman & Marv Zehr) wrote her or his perspective on future directions. As each one reported an interesting picture emerged of our shared views of trends that will be evident in the coming years.
The results are not rooted in expertise nor was the sample size significant enough to be a “scientifically” accurate reflection of views across the Conference. From the discussion, we identified the following four commonly held assumptions:
*Multi-cultural: As society is becoming more diverse, future church plants will be more multi-cultural. While in recent years the majority of church plants have been Spanish-language churches, in the future there will be a mix of English, Spanish, other Racial/Ethnic and multi-lingual congregations.
*Medium-sized: Church plants in the future will be between 75-150 in size. Some smaller intentional communities will emerge and there may be a few congregations that grow beyond 200 in size. In all likelihood there will be less emphasis on buildings.
*Urban: The majority of church plants will emerge in population centers of more than 50,000 persons as jobs and culture continue to draw people toward cities. There are opportunities in rural areas as well, though people will be unlikely to become part of something that looks like our existing churches.
*Southern: Texas is seen by the Commission members as the area most likely to see new churches emerge. Our southern state will present many opportunities because of its vast area and the combination of both migration to the sunbelt and continued immigration.
It is obvious that these characteristics are not ways we would currently describe the Conference. The work of the Commission is to determine the path from what is to what could be. There will need to be much learning and prayer for this vision to develop. I ask that you pray for the Commission and do your own inventory to see what part you and your church will play.
- June Thomsen has been appointed as the Interim Director of Assembly 2015, which will convene October 30-31 on the Bethel College Campus, North Newton, Kansas. She will be working with a planning team.
- Nurse needed! Camp Mennoscah is looking for a camp nurse for June 14-18. It’s a hootin’ good time and a chance to get one of the new camp tee shirts! Nurses receive a stipend or a camper discount. Contact camp at 620-297-3290. Be part of our fun-loving, Bandaid applying ministry!
- What?! You haven’t signed up to be part of Camp Mennoscah’s kitchen staff this summer? No worries! Kitchen helpers are still needed for the following weeks: June 7-13, July 19-25, and July 26-31. Head cooks (or co-head cooks) are needed for June 29-July 2 (rental group), July 5-9, and July 25-26. Grab folks in your congregation and make it a time to hang out with friends! Head cooks need experience feeding large groups of people, but kitchen helpers need only happy hearts, willing hands, and the ability to follow directions. Contact us at 620-297-3290 or email@example.com.
- Camp Mennoscah’s early registration discount ends May 1. Fill out your paper registration and make sure it’s post-marked no later than May 1, or go online at www.campmennoscah.org and register online! The theme this summer is Power UP: Living in the Spirit! Come join in the fun!
Mennonite Church Announcements
- Spend an evening with Glen E. Miller, MD, author of Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well, hosted by Bluestem Communities of Kidron Bethel Village (North Newton and Schowalter Villa (Hesston) – Thursday, May 14, 7 pm at Hesston Mennonite Church, and Tuesday, May 19, 7:30 pm at Bethel College Mennonite Church. Offerings will be taken at each gathering. Copies of book are $13, available at Kidron Bethel Welcome Center, Schowalter Villa’s Villa Life Center front desk, and Hesston Wellness Center.
- Prayer Retreat: The Convention Prayer Team and AMBS-Kansas Center will host a Prayer Retreat prior to the MCUSA Convention in July. This retreat is intended for pastors, congregational leaders, delegates, members and anyone who is interested in coming together to join in prayer in preparation for Convention. This retreat will be on Sunday, May 3 at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, KS. The retreat begins at 4:30 pm and will conclude with a faspa supper at 6:00, so participants are invited to bring faspa finger foods (bread, meat, cheese, pickles, fruit, etc.) to share. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please see https://www.ambs.edu/news-events/Prayer-Gathering.cfm. To RSVP as a congregation or as an individual, please contact Katherine Goerzen at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 27.
- Adult Bible School: Sermon on the Mount: June is the month for Bible School, and so any adult (congregation member, pastor, anyone interested in the Bible) who is looking for an opportunity for spiritual growth, renewed discipleship, and a chance to dive deeper into the Bible is invited to participate in an Adult Bible School on the Sermon on the Mount. This continuing education opportunity is hosted by AMBS-Kansas Center and will be taught by Jerry Truex. It will meet June 1, 8, 15, and 22 from 7:00-9:30pm at the Hesston Mennonite Church in Hesston, KS. Normally continuing education opportunities like this cost $200. However, this event has been sponsored by South Central Conference and Western District Conference. Due to their generosity, the cost per person is only $50 (please plan to register by May 11 for this reduced rate). Registration is available at https://www.ambs.edu/academics/Sermon-on-the-Mount-course.cfm For more information, please contact Katherine Goerzen at email@example.com.
- Are you interested in learning more about Mennonite World Conference’s Global Assembly, coming July 21-26 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania? Even if you don’t think you can come, follow along and join in the conversation on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/MennoniteWorldConference. Share your story and learn about your Anabaptist brothers and sisters from around the world!
- Why does a young postgraduate anesthesiologist on a career path towards being the next department head in a large teaching hospital choose to work in a small mission hospital at the foothills of the Himalayas? Hear Dr. Ann Thyle’s journey of faith and medicine at the Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) Annual Gathering, July 19-21, immediately prior to Mennonite World Conference Global Assembly in Harrisburg, PA. The theme is “Walking Together for Healthy Communities.” Healthcare workers, past, present, and future, and from all medical, mental, and spiritual health professions, are warmly invited to come and bring their families. Grants are available for students, volunteers, and those outside the US and Canada. Children’s program for ages 0-18. For more information and registration, go to www.mennohealth/gathering, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call toll-free 1-888-406-3643.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620