WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
December 1, 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:
*From the Conference Minister’s Heart
From the Conference Minister’s Heart
by Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister
This reflection is fourth in a series on leadership competencies featured in training at the Kansas Leadership Center. WDC is partnering with South Central Conference to offer this training to congregational leaders. Today’s column is on the topic of “Managing Self.”
As we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, my reflections turn to the Biblical accounts of Mary and Joseph, and their important role in preparing a home for Jesus – God’s Word made flesh on earth. They demonstrated a concept often quoted in Kansas Leadership Center training: “Leadership is an activity, not a position.” Mary and Joseph did not occupy powerful positions in their society. Mary was just a teen-age girl, engaged to be married. She had very little control over her own life. Joseph was “descended from the house and family of David,” but was not wealthy or influential. When the time came to present their child to the Lord in the temple, they offered sacrifices fitting for the poor: “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” It was not their position of power or wealth that impacted the world, but their willingness to offer themselves for God’s purposes. Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels reveal how Mary and Joseph demonstrated the ability to “Manage Self,” one of the areas of leadership identified by the Kansas Leadership Center. This includes the following competencies:
Know your strengths, vulnerabilities, and triggers; and Know the story others tell about you – When Mary received the announcement from the angel that she would bear a child to be the Son of God she was frightened and perplexed. When Joseph learned that his fiancée was pregnant, he was worried what people would say; hoping to avoid public disgrace he “resolved to quietly break the engagement….” Yet, in the face of vulnerability Mary and Joseph also chose to exercise their strengths: Mary trusted in God’s promise, and Joseph obeyed divine instructions to continue to care for Mary in marriage. They also listened to other voices, which helped them comprehend their experience and the identity of Jesus: When the pregnant Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” After the birth of Jesus, the angel said to shepherds in the fields, “To you is born this day a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” The wise men asked, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” The elderly Simeon, blessed the infant Jesus in the temple, and said to Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
The sobering prophecy by Simeon points to another set of leadership competencies that are crucial in “managing self:” Choose among competing values and Get used to uncertainty and conflict. As the earthly parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph encountered difficult choices and danger. The night of Jesus’ birth there was no room for them in the inn, and later this young family became refugees fleeing for their life from the threat of Herod’s tyranny and violence. They showed us that God is present in the midst of the world’s realities and suffering.
Finally, Joseph and Mary’s experience invite us to embrace the complementary leadership practices of Experimenting beyond your comfort zone and Taking care of yourself. Christmas is a time to enjoy the comforts of family, food, familiar traditions and cozy surroundings. Yet, it is also a time to open our lives to new experiences of God’s presence and purpose. Like Mary and Joseph, may we too recognize how God is calling us to become a home for the Word made Flesh.
Dec 6 – Pray for the WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission as they offer support and accountability for pastors in WDC.
Dec 13 – Pray for joy and wisdom for Jennie Wintermote in her new role as WDC Resource Library Director, a ¼ time position that began December 1.
Dec 20 – Give thanks for the gift of Christ’s birth, and for WDC congregations embodying the presence of Christ in their local communities.
Dec 27 – Give thanks to God for all who contribute generously of their financial gifts, prayers and volunteer time to support the work of WDC.
December 11 – Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
December 24-January 1, 2016 – WDC Office closed
January 9, 2016 – Executive Board meeting
January 12, 2016 – Church Planting Commission meeting
February 1, 2016 – Resource Commission meeting
February 18, 2016 – Stewardship Commission meeting
The December issue of Parish Paper, entitled “This Conversation – Again? Improving Church Communication” can now be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/parish-paper/.
- (The list referred to in one of last week’s announcements was omitted. Here is the announcement again, including the list.)
Here is a list of ideas for faith formation shared by participants in the faith formation breakout sessions at the Western District Conference assembly Oct. 31:
–Blessing every person you see
–Connecting with kids at camp
–Teaching kids at Sunday school
–Reading the Bible
–ELF (eating, learning, fellowship) nights
–Different biblical foods
–Light through windows
–Food for thought (an evening to eat together and discuss a topic)
The WDC Resource Commission encourages individuals and congregations to share practices they’ve tried that have aided their faith formation. Please visit the Anabaptist Faith Formation Network website: www.anabaptistfaithformation.org/
- Christmas Gathering for Summer Staff–Over the past 67 years, any number of people have worked at Camp Mennoscah as summer staffers. Summer staffers, their spouses, significant others, and kids are invited to gather on December 19 at Camp Mennoscah in the dining hall at 2:30pm. (We’re not being picky about the definition of “summer staff” and we’re not collecting invitations at the door.) We’ll have coffee and other hot drinks to go with some cookies. You’re welcome to bring a snack to share. It’s a time to gather, catch up with folks and share stories. Questions? Call 620-297-3290.
- For the last number of years, Shalom Mennonite Church has recognized the role of pain, grief and darkness in the Christian faith journey at a Longest Night Service. The longest night of the year is always on December 21. We invite you to join with us in a service of remembrance December 21 at 7 pm at 800 E. First Street in Newton. All are welcome.
Mennonite Church Announcements
- Join us to Commemorate Human Rights: Thursday, December 10, 5:30 p.m. At Douglas Ave. Bridge in Wichita (by Drury Hotel). Sponsored by People of Faith for Peace – Wichita. In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly called for the establishment of Human Rights Day – each year on December 10. This will not be a protest but a statement of our support for the human rights of all beings. People of Faith for Peace are encouraging you to be with us for an hour on Thursday, December 10. We will have a banner and several other signs, displaying our support. Feel free to bring your own banner or sign. Some suggested slogans are: #RefugeesWelcome; #OpenToSyria; #WelcomeWorld; #RefugeeCrisis; Home is a Human Right; UN Human Rights Day
- You’re invited to the MCC Christmas Open House – bring your friends, family and neighbors to our open house on Tuesday, December 15 from 4pm-6pm. The come-and-go event will feature live music, lots of delicious Christmas goodies and snacks and at 5pm hear MCC alumni reflect on Christmas traditions in Bosnia Herzegovina, Bolivia and Cambodia. Please plan to drop by at the MCC Central States office, 121 E 30th, in North Newton, KS, to enjoy some Christmas cheer! Questions? Call 316.283.2720.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620