WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
August 8, 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:
*Singing Our Prayers: Thoughts on Prayer, Identity and Mission
Singing Our Prayers: Thoughts on Prayer, Identity and Mission
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (KS-based)
“Music is the language of our hearts,” I read in Resonate, the new hymnal and worship resources sampler. It is “what brings us together in worship to honor God.” Marlene Kropf, retired Conference Minister of Spiritual Formation, put it even more simply. “[Music] is our most significant way of praying together” (The Mennonite, 9/1/10).
I reflected on this aspect of our shared spirituality and identity throughout this past weekend at our Annual Assembly as we celebrated 125 years of Western District Conference history and faith. Friday evening we sang “This Is the Day” in three languages—Spanish, English and Garifuna, an indigenous language spoken on Belize and other Caribbean islands. Why were we singing our prayers in this language? We invited brothers and sisters of our newest church plant in Houston, a Garifuna group, to lead us in worship. They also led us in unfamiliar tunes in a tongue few of us spoke, yet it was clear that we were all reaching out to God in prayer through song. Sunday morning was filled with hymns mostly in English that were enriched by four-part harmonies. Both were rich, bittersweet times of prayer and worship for me.
During communion on Friday night, I found myself in prayer and contemplation. Jesus “emptied” and “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death,” as we read in Philippians 2. As we are obedient to God’s call to preach the gospel and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.19), of what will we be called to humbly empty ourselves, individually and as a people? Will we European-Americans be called to lay aside some of our treasured ways of being church together? Will vibrant worship include less four-part, harmonic sung prayer as we make space for other ethnic and cultural traditions? Will we allow some of our understandings of scripture to be transformed by the experiences and interpretations of sisters and brothers who join us from other parts of the globe? What will pastoral leadership look and sound like in flourishing congregations? What will conference leadership look like? What will mission sound like in five, ten, or twenty-five years in Western District Conference? What other parts of church life will we lay aside and what will we retain as we joyously and faithfully follow Jesus in the 21st Century?
No matter the tunes, no matter the tongues we sing them in, I am assured that we, the members of the churches of Western District Conference, will still be singing our prayers decades and perhaps centuries from now. We will be singing our prayers to the One who has led us in the past, is sustaining us in uncertain times now, and will continue to faithfully guide us into a future where we continue to proclaim Jesus as Lord. Alleluia!
- Healthy Boundaries Trainings: If you are a pastor new to WDC or other credentialed minister who has not taken the (previously named) Clergy Sexual Abuse Prevention Training within the past five years, please save this date: October 10. That day, Associate Conference Ministers, Kathy Neufeld Dunn and Byron Pellecer will lead (the renamed and reformulated) Healthy Boundaries 101 training at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton, KS. Note: Byron and Kathy will offer the same training in Texas on April 28, 2018, location TBA. If you have taken clergy boundaries training within the past three years, the new MC USA standard, you may want to join us for Healthy Boundaries 201 in Central Kansas in April. More information on Healthy Boundaries 201 yet to come.
2. At WDC Delegate Assembly on August 5, the WDC Executive Board presented a statement opposing Texas Senate Bill 4. Set to take effect September 1, SB4 bans local law enforcement agencies from adopting “patterns or practices” that limit cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The WDC Executive Board statement lists specific reasons for opposing SB4, based on the belief that the Gospel calls for social justice. The statement concludes, “The Executive Board of the Western District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA laments the passage of this law characterized by rejection, discrimination, and racial profiling and urges that this law be rescinded. Furthermore, we urge the Western District Conference, the Mennonite Church USA, and all faith communities to stand in solidarity with our Hispanic-Latino/a brothers and sisters and with other people of color in the rejection of this law and the mindset which has created it.” The full statement is posted on the WDC website at https://mennowdc.org
- At WDC Annual Assembly August 4-6, the Friday night worship service included a readers’ theater presentation celebrating WDC’s 125th anniversary. This text is available for use by WDC churches who want to present it in their local congregation – see: https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Camp Sing on August 13, 6:30 pm, at Faith Mennonite! Camp Mennoscah will hold the annual celebration of our summer camps with camp songs, hymns, popcorn, and pop on August 13 at 6:30 pm at Faith Mennonite Church in Newton. Everyone is invited to come, whether to listen, sing, or simply see other camp folks! Donations will be accepted for upgrading the sound system at Main Camp. We’ll see you there!
- Less than a month away! The Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah is September 3-4 and we can’t wait to see you. The retreat is for everyone affected by mental illness–friends, family, advocates, and others. Our theme this year is Branching Out. Enjoy time to relax, to worship, to get to know others, and to learn. Register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290. Bring a friend!
- Thank you times a gazillion! To all those who volunteered this summer, whether as a cook, counselor, or general helper, we offer you deeply, heart-felt, to the moon and back thank yous for being at Camp Mennoscah. You are the people that make it possible for our camping ministry to reach so many campers. Thank you!
Mennonite church announcements
Searching for an exciting way to serve? MCC is urgently searching for a Canner Operator, with CDL truck driving experience, to travel with the mobile cannery before the season begins in October. Canner Operators travel to 30 different locations in the United States and Canada, canning meat, which is then sent around the world to hungry people. Come serve in this exciting way! Meet new people, and take advantage of experiences you’ll never forget. For more information please contact John Hillegass firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 859-1151.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620