WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
August 18, 2020
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)
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IN THIS ISSUE:
*Acts of the Holy Spirit
Acts of the Holy Spirit
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
How is your congregation listening to God’s word these days? What scriptures is your congregation focusing on in worship, preaching or Sunday school? How – and why – have those scriptures been selected for attention in your community of faith at this time? Perhaps this discernment is done by the pastor or a worship committee, or maybe your congregation follows a lectionary (multi-year schedule of readings), or uses scriptures determined by a specific curriculum or study series. There are many factors that shape our selections of scriptures which, in turn, shape us and our life as people of faith.
Recently I have noted that several WDC congregations are focusing on the book of Acts in their worship services, preaching or Bible study. This seems very fitting for our times: As we struggle with how to function as a community of faith in the midst of a pandemic, Acts brings us back to the basics of being church: Waiting together on the Holy Spirit, studying scripture, praying for one another, caring for the vulnerable and suffering, proclaiming the good news of Jesus. As we deal with disruption and so much that is beyond our control, Acts connects us with God’s people before us who also lived in the face of enormous uncertainty in between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the unfolding work of the Holy Spirit. As we respond to racial injustice and violence, Acts bears witnesses to a community forged by the Holy Spirit in the midst of significant ethnic, political, religious, social and economic differences.
These themes have resonated with me, as I have recently also been reading a commentary on Acts written by Willie James Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. In his commentary, Jennings explores the relevance of the book of Acts for the struggles of today. He says that while Acts is the story of the early church, it is more than that – It is also the story of the Holy Spirit who continues to intervene in our lives and world now. As a witness to the life of Jesus, the Holy Spirit continues to express God’s desire to be with and for us, leading us beyond our fears and the need for control into the “new that God imagines and is bringing about for the world” (p. 7).
As we engage scripture within our congregations, may the Holy Spirit continue to teach and guide us, empowering us as the courageous and compassionate body of Christ in today’s world.
- On August 27 at 12:00 noon at WDC’s Leadership Lunch, Clayton Gladdish will lead the KLC leadership concept of “Raising and Lowering the Heat” in a congregation. Email email@example.com a Zoom link to join the conversation.
- Report from a Review of Western District Conference Culture and Responsibilities – In September 2018 the WDC Executive Board directed WDC leadership to conduct an internal review of WDC Culture and Responsibilities — to learn from the experience of processing ministerial misconduct and sexual abuse responses and to understand and strengthen WDC’s accountability and ministry practices. This review focused on how WDC engages with credentialed ministers as well as congregations and their leaders when responding to complex challenges and crises and how this is shaped by WDC practices, polity and programs and by expectations, support and accountability for WDC conference ministry staff. These areas of concern were identified for the review: 1) Relationship between WDC and its congregations; 2) Leadership relationships within WDC; 3) Resourcing, support and accountability for credentialed ministers, congregations and congregational leaders for prevention of and response to sexual abuse; 4) Support, accountability and resources for WDC Conference Minister and Associate Conference Ministers; 5) Specific issues regarding MC USA’s Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure and implications for future implementation of the policy and procedure in WDC. The Executive Board has now concluded the review process, which will provide ongoing guidance and priorities for WDC’s work in the future. A summary report from the review is posted on the WDC website at https://mennowdc.org/identity/. Questions or comments may be directed to Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister.
- Racial Justice from the US to Palestine: The WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force invites you to celebrate the International Day of Peace with a virtual conversation on racial justice. Palestinians Alex Awad and Jonathan Kuttab join US citizen Sarah Nahar. They’ll share their own experiences of injustice and hope and discuss the similarities in both contexts. Join us for this free live event sponsored by WDC Resource Commission on WDC’s Facebook page on September 21, 7 pm Central Time. You’re welcome to donate to WDC at: mennowdc.org.
- Western District Women’s Retreat 2020: And now for something completely different! After much discussion and prayer, the Western District Women in Mission Retreat Committee has decided not to meet in person at Camp Mennoscah this year. We will miss all of you and the energy and joy you bring to camp. However, we WILL gather virtually on Saturday night, September 12 from 7:00-8:30 PM via Zoom for a worship service. Our goal is to connect to and encourage each other through Christ and His love for us. Susan Jantzen (interim pastor of Worship/Visitation at First Mennonite in Newton) will lead us on “Reflections on God as Keeper.” Bethany Martin from Faith and Life Bookstore will review a few books. Annelle Claassen (Retreat Committee Chair) will lead singing, and Karen Mascho (Pastor and Retreat Committee) will lead communion together. No masks required! For free registration or questions, send your email to Tammy Duvanel Unruh at firstname.lastname@example.orgSave the date and we look forward to seeing your whole face!
- What seeds are growing in WDC? Each issue of the WDC Garden (quarterly newsletter) in 2020 will feature some “seeds” – brief highlights from congregations about new initiatives, creative ideas, missional practices and connections within WDC. If you have some “seeds” to suggest for consideration in the Garden, please send a note to WDC at email@example.com!
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah will be a one-day event on Monday, September 7. This retreat is for those affected by mental illness, including friends and family. Activities will be outside. We will follow social distancing and mask guidelines. Please bring a mask with you. Those interested in attending the retreat should contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290.
- Limited number of openings! Camp Mennoscah’s Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats will take place on Oct. 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8. Masks and physical distancing guidelines will be followed and the facility used has been changed. More spaces will be opened as determined safe and feasible, so put your name on the waitlist! Register online at campmennoscah.org! Call 620-297-3290 for further information.
- Camp Mennoscah welcomes guests! Camping areas and cabins are open to guests/groups for overnight stays and day visits. Spend time in the river, have a campfire cookout, and enjoy the open spaces of the tallgrass prairie and the Ninnescah River! Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 to make a reservation and to inquire about use of additional facilities. We can’t wait to see you!
Mennonite church announcements
Join the growing culture of discipleship in the church! Save your spot in the next Missional Discipleship Initiative cohort. Visit MennoniteMission.net/MDI and sign up for the next MDI cycle, starting Sept. 1.
WDC Sprouts announcement guidelines: Announcements pertain to Western District Conference (WDC) ministries and churches, institutions with which WDC has formal relationships, and Mennonite Church USA agencies and ministries.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620