April 28, 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)


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

Clarence’s Clarion Call – A Salute to Little Churches

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

I salute and honor the little churches of Western District Conference for their perseverance and endurance!

I think of you, little churches, with these words from I Thessalonians 1:2-3, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I have just returned from a four-day swing through Oklahoma and western Kansas visiting churches and pastors. I give this salute to four such churches I met with ten or less in a typical worship service:

  • Greenfield Mennonite Church, Carnegie, OK
  • Koinonia Mennonite Church, Clinton, OK
  • Calvary Mennonite Church, Liberal, KS
  • Gospel Fellowship Church, Montezuma, KS

Descriptions of their gatherings actually sounded much like the New Testament instruction. “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (I Corinthians 14:26).

I met with five of the six active members of Greenfield at their tidy, white church building situated between the former parsonage and the cemetery in the wheat fields and pastures of central Oklahoma. They have been without a pastor for 35 years. They have shared the responsibilities of special inspiration/music and cleaning in rotation. Alvin Unruh has been the long-term Sunday School teacher, and guest preachers now come via video on most Sundays.

Lyle Schaller, long-time church consultant, called these little churches cat churches with at least nine lives. Each conference minister pronouncement of soon demise is met with renewed energy and yet another chapter of life. God bless them.

As I drove the 900 miles, I dreamed of new possibilities. Could a sister congregation with a pastor stream the Sunday morning sermon to a little church? What if the bigger sister brought special music and taught the Sunday School lesson once a quarter or once a month? What if we loaded “little church” into a van for a special service and potluck at the larger church twice a year? How could we encourage each other?

I thank God for all our churches, bigger or smaller. “May your love abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Prayer Requests
May 3 – Pray for Conference Minister Clarence Rempel who is meeting with racial/ethnic pastors and churches in Texas this weekend.

May 10 – Pray for Heidi Regier Kreider, the new Executive Conference Minister elect, as she completes her work at Bethel College Mennonite Church and prepares for her new assignment.

May 17 – Pray for the discipling ministries of our churches and for the Anabaptist Faith Formation seminar that will be held June 12 and 13.

May 24 – Pray God’s blessing for Rosie Jantz, who will be ordained as a pastor at Tabor Mennonite Church this afternoon at 3 PM.

May 31 – Pray for wisdom, grace and strength for Camp Mennoscah staff, leaders, and counselors as they guide campers to faith in and following of Jesus Christ.

Coming Events

June 12-13 – Anabaptist Faith Formation Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS

June 28 (2:30 – 5 pm) – Clarence Rempel Come and Go Farewell, WDC office, North Newton, KS

June 30-July 5 – Mennonite Church USA Convention, Kansas City, MO

October 30-31 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS

Parish Paper
The May issue of Parish Paper, entitled “Seeking a Bivocational Calling for Pastors and Churches” can now be viewed at:  https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.

WDC Announcements
1.  The Western District Conference Executive Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Heidi Regier Kreider as the new Conference Minister. They believe that her spiritual maturity, her character, her administrative abilities, and her love for the church in all its variety equip her for leading WDC at this time in our history. She will begin her service as conference minister on August 17.  Heidi is in her 15th year of ministry as lead pastor of Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS. Prior to this, she served for nine years as pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville, FL. Heidi is married to David Kreider, who is employed at Kauffman Museum, North Newton, KS. Her son Ben is a student at Bethel College; her son Mark is at Goshen College.

2.  Anabaptist Faith Formation Launch: Learn, Grow, Serve, Repeat:  WDC will host a Faith Formation Launch on June 12-13 on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. This event will kick off a focus on faith formation for Anabaptist congregations. This launch will provide practical, meaningful ways for congregations to build on the good faith formation that is already taking place. More information and registration can be found at www.mennowdc.org

3.  The Women and Girls Retreat will be September 11-13 at Camp Mennoscah, beginning with Friday evening program and activities, and ending after lunch on Sunday. Nadine Friesen, of Hillsboro, will be our speaker, addressing the theme of “Joy is More Than a Detergent”.  In addition, seminars are planned for a wide range of interests. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us!

4.  Bring a Friend–Summer youth camps are getting closer and closer!  We’re horribly excited and can’t wait to see all of you again.  But we want to see new folks, too!  So, if you are a returning camper, invite someone who hasn’t been to camp again to come with you to camp.  You’ll both get a free camp tee shirt!  Questions about this fun program?  Contact us at 620-297-3290.

5.  Camp Mennoscah has free tee shirts and camper discounts for kitchen helpers!  It’s unbelievable, but we are offering a free camp tee shirt for folks who volunteer in the kitchen during our summer youth camps.  Kitchen helpers are needed for June 7-13, June 29-July 2 (rental group), July 19-25, and July 26-31.  Camper discounts up to full camp fees are available for a limited number of volunteers.  Call 620-297-3290 to sign up for your free camp tee and a week of fun!

6.  Remembering Our Mennonite Mothers – Are you a daughter, mother, or grandmother with family ties to the Mennonite Church? Join us for a pre-Mother’s Day time of sharing on Sunday, May 3, 2:00-3:30pm, at Salina Mennonite Church, 600 State St, Salina, KS. Author and editor Rachel Epp Buller will lead a discussion based on her recent book, Mothering Mennonite. Writers in the book share how their Mennonite mothers and grandmothers imparted religious and cultural traditions, even as some of them strained against boundaries. You will be invited to reflect on how the roles of daughters, mothers, and grandmothers in your life have informed, been shaped by, or even been at odds with your Mennonite roots.
Mennonite Church Announcements
1.  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 held on Sunday, May 3 at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, KS. The retreat begins at 4:30pm 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 kccoordinator@ambs.edu by April 27.

2.  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 kccoordinator@ambs.edu.

3.  Mennonite Mission Network’s Day of Prayer – May 1 – Pray with us, pray for us, pray for our world! Help us celebrate Mennonite Mission Network’s Day of Prayer on May 1 and join us in prayer for the mission and ministry of each person, congregation, conference and Mennonite Mission Network. Visit www.MennoniteMission.net/DayOfPrayer for individual and congregational resources like:  1)  Prayer Vine, a monthly prayer calendar, 2) A 24-hour prayer vigil sign-up sheet, 3) And more!

4.  Anabaptist from all around the world are coming to the United States for Global Assembly this July  … but first, they need to get visas!  Please join with Mennonite World Conference in praying for our Visa Task Force as they work with our global brothers and sisters on getting approval from the US government to travel to Pennsylvania this summer.  More prayer requests at www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015prayernetwork.

5.  Why should Anabaptist healthcare workers be concerned about community health, the Lord’s Supper, and persons with disabilities?  Come and hear chaplain David Gullman contribute to the overall theme of “Walking Together for Healthy Communities” at the Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) Annual Gathering 2015, July 19-21, in Harrisburg, PA.  All healthcare workers, past, present, and future, along with their families, are warmly invited.  Grants are available for students, volunteers, and those outside the US and Canada.  Annual Gathering is a family-friendly event with a children and youth program for ages 0-18.  For more information and registration, go to www.mennohealth/gathering, email info@mennohealth.org, or call toll-free to 1-888-406-3643.

6.  This summer, nearly 1,000 Anabaptist youth, ages 18-25 from around the globe, will gather for the third Global Youth Summit (GYS), an event that occurs every six years prior to the Assembly Gathered of Mennonite World Conference.  This year, the GYS will be held on the beautiful campus of Messiah College, Grantham, PA.  The purpose of this gathering is to celebrate our common faith and will involve games, activities, worship, and spiritual input around the theme of being “Called to Share:  My Gifts, Our Gifts”.  We invite you to join us in experiencing the gifts that each culture, each region, and each individual have to share.  Register or find more information online:  www.mwc-cmm.org/pennsylvania-2015/global-youth-summit

7.  Mennonite World Conference will meet for Assembly Gathered in Harrisburg, PA, July 21-26.  Another feature of the event is a series of Assembly Scattered opportunities in several locations across the country, both before and after Assembly Gathered.  One opportunity to introduce our international friends to Mennonites in the heartland will be on July 27-29.  We expect to include tours of sites of Mennonite/Anabaptist interest both historically and currently.  On each of the three evenings (July 27, 28 and 29), there will be opportunities for sharing food and fellowship, inviting all interested persons in south central Kansas to participate.  So make a note of these dates, and watch for more details about how to get to know some international Mennonite guests.

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