February 21, 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)


*A Natural Activity of Every Healthy Church


A Natural Activity of Every Healthy Church

     by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)

I am a passionate believer in church multiplication and church planting, whether the church uses the attractional or the missional model. However, in terms of effectiveness, going to the community is best, instead of attracting the community to our church buildings. Planting new congregations is an essential and natural activity of every healthy church.

Starting new congregations is vital for the life and for the future of the Church. If we don’t have new church plants, we might not have a church in the future at all. Besides, church planting contributes to the vitalization of established congregations, area conferences and denominations.

Having said that, as the body of Christ, we cannot rely on human efforts alone, we need to follow the movement of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, outreach through service and word becomes crucial for both the established and emerging congregations.

The big challenge for us as church begins when we enter the in-reach mode only and depart from outreaching ministry. Church growth and emerging congregations or church plants, are the direct result of an evangelistic ministry and mentality.

We need to be inspired, equipped, and challenged to continue embracing church multiplication and church planting whether it is a combination of joint efforts between conference and established churches, churches in partnership with other churches’ initiatives, or congregations planting congregations. We need to continue embracing the Great Commission as part of our DNA, church planting is one way to do it.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:18-20 NRSV).

Part of the life cycle of any church is to experience growth and to mature, then it is also natural and expected to reproduce. Looking to Church history, we notice how local congregations got involved in their local communities, built relationships, and proclaimed the kingdom of God. This ministry resulted in new church plants. In fact, today’s church is also the product of such apostolic ministry. Perhaps, the survival of the church, in addition to the presence and guidance of Christ’s Spirit, relies on church planting.

11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13 NRSV).

Church plants, like any missional established congregation, are agents of transformation too. Emerging congregations are positioned at the forefront of God’s redemptive and transformative work in their local communities as well.

Societal transformation, peace and justice and salvation are made possible only when established congregations and emerging churches are in touch with their hosting community.

Friends, let us be alert to God’s activity in our locations that may signal an emerging group. Planting new congregations is an essential and natural activity of every healthy church.

WDC Announcements

  1. WDC Gifts Discernment Committee invites suggestions: Since the early church, the call to follow Jesus in community means that congregations spread over distances and diverse cultures write to each other, support each other, and challenge each other. The call to be a faithful congregation is not taken on in isolation. Western District (WDC) embraces this call to be congregations on the way with Jesus together.  In this spirit, the Gifts Discernment Committee of WDC seeks suggestions from your congregation, as they nominate persons to serve on WDC’s Executive Board and four commissions (Church Planting, Ministerial Leadership, Resource, and Stewardship), for affirmation by delegates at annual assembly August 4-6 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.  We want to involve persons from all parts of WDC, reflecting diversity in cultural context, geography, ethnicity, age, gender, and other factors.  So, we invite your congregation to offer names to be considered by the WDC Gifts Discernment Committee as they contact potential nominees. Are there persons you would recommend from your or another congregation who have gifts, experience, and passion for the ministries of WDC?   Please send suggestions by March 3 to the WDC office at wdc@mennowdc.org or 316-283- 6300.  Executive Board and Commission terms are for three years with a two-term limit.  Video or phone connections are available for those at a distance, and efforts are being made to provide English/Spanish translation if needed.  For more information about the Board and commissions, see https://mennowdc.org/executive-board-commissions/
  1. Congregational Resourcing Event: Congregational Ministry in the Face of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence – Saturday, April 29, at First Mennonite Church, Hutchinson, KS is an educational event in response to situations similar to the one recently faced by Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) and recently addressed in Mennonite Church USA’s recommendations to VMC and Lindale Mennonite Church and denominational commitments to prevent such abuse and to encourage healing when it does. What are best practices and proactive responses when a church member sexually abuses someone in a context outside of the congregation? No matter where the abuse happens, there are always congregational implications.  Kathy Goering Reid, Executive Director of the Family Abuse Center, Austin, TX will lead us in considering theological, biblical, legal, and social implications of sexual abuse when the perpetrator is part of our congregation and how we may respond in healthy ways. All church leaders—church chairs, deacons, Christian educators, youth leaders and pastors are invited.  The cost will be $30 per person or $100 per congregation.  We encourage your congregational representatives to register as a group.  More information to come.
  1. Hymn Sing and Dessert Auction for the New Playground Structure! Camp Mennoscah invites everyone to join us Sunday, February 26, at Eden Mennonite Church in Moundridge from 4-6pm.  We’ll sing, bid on wonderful desserts, and hear about plans for the new playground structure.  Funds raised go to the new playground structure.  Come and join us!
  1. Come to Youth Volunteer Weekend! Youth in grades 7-12 are invited to come to Camp Mennoscah on March 10-11 for a time of worship, service, and fun.  We’ll gather on Friday with worship and singing, spend time on service projects on Saturday, and finish up with more singing and worship.  Youth groups are welcome; we have counselors and sponsors are not required to attend.  Any sponsors wanting to attend should contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290.  It’s a great time to come to Camp Mennoscah!
  1. Scrapbook and Craft Retreats are only a few short days away! Sign up for your weekend of devotions, cropping and craftiness, and lots of relaxing fun at www.campmennoscah.org or call us at 620-297-3290.  Retreats are March 3-5 and March 17-19.  We can’t wait to see you!
  1. Camp Mennoscah is looking for fun-loving folks to be kitchen volunteers for our summer youth camps. Our summer camps run from June 11- August 4.  The only skills needed are the ability to follow directions, helpful hands, and a desire to have a good time.  Email olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.org or call us at 620-297-3290 for more information.  It’s a great time!

Mennonite Church Announcements

  1. Early registration for the Mennonite Church USA Convention 2017 ends on February 28. Early registration includes a T-shirt, I-Ride trolley pass, servant project and a meal card.  Come to Orlando July 4-8 to celebrate “Love is a Verb” with fellowship, worship and activities with Mennonites from around the country.  Learn more at:  http://convention.mennoniteusa.org/registration/.
  1. (For February 26 bulletins) Pause and prepare your hearts as the season of Lent begins this week.  Join with others in the church around the world in creating fertile places for the seed of God’s message to take root.
  1. Community Engagement at Hesston (KS) Mennonite Church, February 25, 9-11 am. MCC, in partnership with Sunflower Community Action, will engage participants in an interactive presentation on Immigration Education and current issues.  We will seek the broad scope of MCC’s immigration work globally, nationally, regionally, and locally along with our partners.  We will also explore the theological lens of immigration and what the Word of God tells us about welcoming the stranger.  Find out what MCC is doing.  Find out how you can be involved.  Contact Tina Schrag at 316-283-2728.  (mcc.org/immigration-education)
  1. Explore what God is doing around the world through Youth Venture, a short-term service and learning program of Mennonite Mission Network. Teams of youth and adult leaders will join local ministries in Belfast, Benin, Detroit, and Perú for 2-3 three weeks this summer. These formational experiences are geared for ages 14 – 22. They are often the stepping stones to a lifetime of service and church leadership. Space is filling up fast so apply today! For more information visit mennonitemission.net/YouthVenture.
  1. Pastor’s Guide to Prairie View, a mental health center in Newton, KS: If you had someone in your congregation who was in need of mental health services, would you know how to refer him or her to Prairie View?  Can you visit a member in in-patient care?  How can we support those with mental illness in our churches?  These questions and others are answered in the new Q & A sheet (attached), “A Pastor’s Guide to Prairie View.”
  1. Ohio Conference extends an invitation to a missional conference with Alan and Debra Hirsch on: “Who Is My Neighbor?” March 23-24 at Kidron (OH) Mennonite Church. Alan spoke in the Kansas City 2015 delegate sessions and in a workshop with his wife, Debra.  Alan and Debra have led churches in both Australia and Los Angeles. A well-known mission strategist and speaker, Alan is the founder of Forge Mission Training Network, 100Move­ments and Future Travelers. He is the author of The Forgotten Ways, as well as numerous other books. He also is an adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, George Fox Semi­nary, and Wheaton College. To learn more about Alan, see www.alanhirsch.org.  Debra is a speaker, church leader and writ­er and a member of the Forge America national team. With Alan she co-authored the book Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Disci­pleship. Her most recent book is titled Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality. She has been involved in social work, community development and as a trained counse­lor.  Cost for this event is $85 for non-Ohio Con­ference members. The registration deadline is March 3. Attached is a brochure with details about the event and how to register.
  1. Let’s Connect! Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s Master of Divinity (MDiv) Connect program offers you in-depth study, spiritual formation and vocational internships — wherever you’re located. By taking 12–14 credit hours per year in either online or hybrid formats, you can complete the 80-hour program in five and a half years. ambs.edu/mdivconnect
  1. Transforming Congregational Conflict and Communication: April 12 to May 23. Explore the possibilities and pitfalls of courageously engaging in differences within congregational life in this online, six-week short course offered by the Church Leadership Center of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Instructor: Betty Pries, CMed, MTS, Ph.D. candidate. Cost: $200 up to March 22; $250 after March 22. CEUs available. ambs.edu/lifelong-learning/short-courses
  1. Rooted and Grounded: A conference on land and Christian discipleship: April 20–22 at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana. Imagine and embody alternative ways of relating to the land that cultivate shalom between human beings, the rest of creation and God. This three-day event will weave together worship, theology, biblical study and praxis. Keynote speakers: Sarah Augustine, Dr. Stanley Saunders and Todd Wynward. Cost: $100/standard, $25/students. ambs.edu/rootedandgrounded
  1. Volunteer at AMBS: Consider contributing to the learning community at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, as a short- or long-term volunteer! Whether you’re tending the property or photocopying materials for events, serving a few hours per month or a month at a time, you’ll be helping us in our mission to prepare leaders for ministry around the world. Your skills and interests will be matched to areas of need. Contact Sophia Austin: volunteercoordinator@ambs.edu or 574.296.6234
  1. New book: Unexpected Invitations – Surprises, adventures, and opportunities in Mennonite ministry by Angela Rempel, with Erwin Rempel. (Mennonite Press 2016, self-published). The Rempels grew up on the fringes of the former General Conference Mennonite Church but through a series of unexpected invitations eventually served at the hub of the denomination in its offices in Newton, Kansas. Their path led through pastoral ministry, missions in Brazil and Botswana, Erwin’s role as executive secretary of the General Conference Mennonite Church Commission on Overseas Mission, and the transition to Mennonite Mission Network of Mennonite Church USA.  Book signing at Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton, KS on Mar. 25, 1-3 pm. Available for $19.95 at http://unexpectedinvitations.com/   (Flyer attached.)

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