WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
August 22, 2017
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:
*It is an organism, not just an organization
It is an organism, not just an organization
by Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas Based)
Contrary to popular belief, through the work and presence of the Holy Spirit, God can plant, replant, revive, refresh, renew and recommission the church. Christ’s Spirit is real, not just a ‘Christian doctrine’ or an insert in church worship liturgy.
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62 NRSV). Among the many theological interpretations for this text, in my opinion, this is God’s call to enter, live, and share his kingdom with others. Entering, living, and sharing should not be disassociated from each other.
The Church, whether it is emerging or established, is not just an institution or an organization or a club for good deeds. The Church is a living entity, an organism, and a sign of the Kingdom of God.
Despite being a living entity, some research suggest that the Church in North America faces a critical juncture regarding church plateau and decline.
Amid this challenge, it appears that the church could use a vibrant ministry to experience a revival and a renewal. However, revitalization, like church planting, is a process, it does not happen overnight and it demands changes, prayer, and a solid biblical foundation.
One might be tempted to blame the declining of the church on post-Christendom, post-modernity, the emergence of technology, lack of theological identity, social-economic changes and yet, one is also challenged to consider the spiritual health condition of the Church which is rarely addressed.
On the one hand, I affirm that the church is called to holistic witnessing. In part, its social purpose is to be devoted to assist people in need and to be a prophetic voice announcing the good news and denouncing ‘sin’ in any form or shape. The Church is also instrumental in providing pastoral-spiritual care. Thus, the church needs to be reminded that salvation, peace and justice and human holistic welfare are part of its business.
Can the church provide sustenance to mitigate both the physical and spiritual hunger of the soul? Departmentalizing and program developing to address those challenges are common to the church. One challenge does not supersede the other, the church needs to address them as one and as second nature.
On the other, the church needs to be spiritually healthy to provide spiritual direction to its parishioners and to the community that attempts to witness. An altruistic approach alone is not enough! Any social club or non-religious organization with means can do that.
If part of the answer lies in revival and renewal, then I will argue that the church should consider earnest prayers and serious biblical foundation experiences like the ones found in texts like Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:1-11; Acts 6:1-7; John 5:39; Joshua 1:3-9; Jeremiah 29:7 and Nehemiah 2:17 just to name a few. Hence, I think we need the resurrection -life giving- experience in our daily lives, as individuals and as a church.
Church revitalization and Church Planting are spiritual endeavors. Thus, primarily we need a spiritual approach and then, a good strategy, the missional approach. Likewise, it is also key to wrestle with the dream-vision and ministry-purpose of emerging and established congregations.
It is not just an organization; the church is an organism because of God’s sustaining breath of life, not because of human effort. Through the work and presence of the Holy Spirit, God can plant, replant, revive, refresh, renew and recommission the church.
I pray to God to continue pouring out his Spirit, for a Pentecost experience, and for the fivefold ministry in our WDC congregations.
Those going to Camp Mennoscah for the womens/girls retreat on September 8-10, please note the detour due to a bridge being worked on. Alternative driving directions and a map are on the Camp website at: http://campmennoscah.org/map/.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- What a roof-raising success! The annual Camp Sing for Camp Mennoscah gathered over 200 people at Faith Mennonite Church for an hour of songs, popcorn, and fellowship. The event raised $3465 for upgrading the sound system at Camp Mennoscah. Thank you for your generosity, your smiles, your prayers, and for supporting Camp Mennoscah!
- Camp Mennoscah invites you to come to our Mental Health Spiritual Retreat, September 3-4. The retreat will have time to relax, sessions on the theme of Branching Out, a hayrack ride, crafts, and great conversations. All affected by mental illness–including family, friends, and advocates–are welcome! Register online at campmennoscah.orgor contact us at 620-297-3290 to request a paper form. It’s going to be a wonderful time!
- It’s an adventure! Camp Mennoscah’s Work & Play Camp is gearing up for 5 days of adventuresome projects and people. From Sept. 29-Oct. 3, we’ll be conquering mountains (of tasks) and facing down hordes (during coffee breaks) and having a grand time. The only thing that could make it better is if you were there, too! This camp is for all ages, all people who love Camp Mennoscah, and for anyone who likes the satisfaction of completing projects. There is no cost for this retreat and attendees are welcome to come for a day or the whole adventure. Please let us know that you are coming by calling 620-297-3290or registering online at campmennoscah.org.
- Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats at Camp Mennoscah! There are two retreats this fall, Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 17-19, for those who are yearning for time to crop and craft. These retreats sometimes fill up and we’d be sad not to see you there. Register online at campmennoscah.orgor contact us at 620-297-3290 for a paper form. It’s always a great time!
- Here’s what’s up with the new playground structure at Camp Mennoscah. We’re going with a wooden structure similar to the previous “whale” structure because we think it better fits the Camp Mennoscah ambiance and natural setting. Our artistic architect Aaron is working with a structural engineer and things are moving forward. We do not have a timeline yet, but we will have a whale of a party when we finally have our fishy friend back. (Yes, we do know that a whale is not a fish.)
Mennonite church announcements
- CHANGE OF VENUE – Tues., Sept. 12, 7 p.m.: Leonard Pitts Jr., will speak in Bethel College’s Memorial Hall, a change from previous announcements and some printed material. Pitts will speak on “What Now? America in the Age of Trump,” and sign copies of his books. This event is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR).
- SAVE THE DATE—IBA BENEFIT DINNER – The annual Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA) benefit dinner will take place Friday, September 15 at 6:30 pm at First Mennonite Church in Newton, KS. A smothered pork burrito dinner will be prepared and served by Chef Carlos Lujano. A short program will follow, featuring testimony from IBA students Vicky Velazquez and Jose Suastegui, a dance performance by the children of Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania and some words and greetings from our new director, Marco Güete. Dinner is by donation. This is a great opportunity for a Sunday School class, small group or individuals to come and hear how IBA is equipping Hispanic leaders in Mennonite Church USA for ministry. IBA is a program of Mennonite Education Agency’s Hispanic Ministries for Leadership Development and Pastoral Education. For any inquires contact Violeta Ajquejay at:VioletaA@MennoniteEducation.org or call 316-281-4342. (Please use the attached poster to publicize this event in your congregations.)
- The Mennonite, Inc. welcomes your original submissions and contributions for our November 2017 print magazine issue and corresponding online content focusing on Transition. Submissions are due to Editor@TheMennonite.orgno later than September 8. More details can be found online: https://themennonite.org/november-transitions/
- HELP DISPLACED PEOPLE IN DR CONGO: Armed conflict in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has displaced 1.4 million people, including 8,000 Mennonites. A Congolese assessment team visited this summer and found a severe lack of food and increasing malnutrition. Families had to leave their fields and animals when they fled the violence, and food that is available for purchase is very expensive. An Anabaptist response is underway, shaped and implemented by Congolese Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren church-based relief committees, coordinated by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and supported by global and Canada- and U.S.-based Anabaptist organizations. Your gift of money will help provide food, household items and shelter supplies. Make your donation online at mcc.org/congo-reliefor by phone, 1-888-563-4676; mail checks to MCC, PO Box 500, Akron PA 17501. Please keep those who have been forced from their homes, and those hosting them, in your prayers.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620