January 15, 2019

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 Conversation Over Coffee


A Conversation Over Coffee

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

We just wanted to have a conversation over Cuban coffee. At least, this was the original intention, but it seemed that God had other plans for us.

As soon pastor Damian and I arrived at the convened location, we both noticed that the establishment seemed to be closed for business.

As we entered the Café, my friend said: “Hello, are you open for business?” A gentleman coming out of the kitchen replied, ‘yes, we are open, and we are glad to have you here.”

I looked at the signage placed at the door displaying the hours of operation and then I looked at my watch. Yes, we were an hour earlier. Despite of it, the gentleman’s attention was exceptional, five stars service if you ask me.

After placing our order, our chat topics ranged from coffee, fair trade, church growth and development to evangelism and hospitality. The attendant brought our Cuban coffee, grabbed a chair and joined us at the table. I was in awe! Deep in my heart, I loved this action. We looked at him and smiled. We did not mind for him to join our conversation at “our table.”

He prompted several questions and did not sound business driven. Instead, the questions showed genuine interest in us, as people and not as customers. He also asked us about our line of work and whether we like our jobs or not. In addition, in several minutes he shared with us part of his life journey.

I went home that day reflecting on attitudes towards new believers in church, intentional hospitality, friendliness and welcoming practices. But above all, I have been reflecting about gospel sharing intentionality and inviting other to come to Christ’s table as well.

I connected my experience at the Cuban café with Acts 8:26-40; where the angel of the Lord instructs Philip to meet the Ethiopian.

Apparently, some of the methods for church growth in which the church was built, are no longer sound or applicable to today’s reality. For the most part, every church activity and equipping are aimed to church people.

However, if the church wants to make a true social impact, especially at the margins of our society; then the church should consider thinking differently about its place and ministry in the neighborhood and in the community abroad. To accomplish that, the church needs to live out the gospel in incarnated ways.

Conversaciones Disfrutando un Cafecito
 by Byron Pellecer

Solo queríamos tener una conversación mientras disfrutábamos de un café cubano. Al menos, esta era la intención original, pero parecía que Dios tenía otros planes para nosotros.

Tan pronto como el pastor Damian y yo llegamos al lugar convenido, ambos notamos que el establecimiento parecía estar cerrado al público.

Cuando entramos en el Café, mi amigo dijo: “Hola, ¿están abiertos?”. Un caballero que salía de la cocina respondió: “Sí, estamos abiertos y nos alegra tenerles aquí”.

Miré el rotulo colocado en la puerta que mostraba las horas de servicio y luego miré mi reloj. Sí, estábamos una hora antes de que abrieran el negocio. A pesar de eso, la atención del caballero fue excepcional, servicio de cinco estrellas si me preguntas.

Después de poner nuestro pedido, empezamos a platicar. Nuestros temas de conversación iban desde el café, el comercio justo, el crecimiento y el desarrollo de la iglesia hasta el evangelismo y la hospitalidad. El asistente trajo nuestro café cubano, tomó una silla y se sentó en nuestra mesa. ¡Me quedé asombrado! En lo profundo de mi corazón, me encantó esta acción. Lo miramos y sonreímos. No nos importó que se uniera a nuestra conversación en “nuestra mesa”.

Hizo varias preguntas, las cuales no parecían estar orientadas por los negocios. En cambio, las preguntas mostraron un interés genuino en nosotros, como personas y no como clientes. También nos preguntó sobre nuestra línea de trabajo y si nos gusta nuestro trabajo o no. Además, en varios minutos también compartió con nosotros parte de su peregrinaje por la vida.

Ese día me fui a casa reflexionando sobre la actitud hacia los nuevos creyentes en la iglesia, la hospitalidad intencional, la amabilidad y las prácticas de bienvenida. Pero, sobre todo, he estado reflexionando acerca de cómo compartir el evangelio con intencionalidad e invitar a otros a venir a la mesa de Cristo.

Conecté mi experiencia en el café cubano con Hechos 8: 26-40; donde el ángel del Señor instruye a Felipe a encontrarse con el etíope.

Aparentemente, algunos de los métodos para el crecimiento de la iglesia y sobre la cual se construyó ya no son sólidos ni aplicables a la realidad de hoy. En su mayor parte, todas las actividades y la capacitación dentro de la iglesia están dirigidos a personas de la iglesia.

Sin embargo, si la iglesia quiere tener un verdadero impacto social, especialmente en los márgenes de nuestra sociedad; entonces la iglesia debe considerar pensar de manera diferente acerca de su lugar y ministerio en el vecindario y en la comunidad en general. Para lograr eso, la iglesia necesita vivir el evangelio en formas encarnadas.

WDC announcements

  1. Western District Conference year-end snapshot:  WDC Church Planting Commission held a retreat in July 2018 for church planters seeking to proclaim the kingdom of God in local settings. Goals were to learn about calling, equipping and commissioning, foster relationships, collaborate and share church-planting experiences. The theme – Missional Communities of Peace – emphasized proclaiming the kingdom of God, cultural challenges, and healthy rhythms of life and spiritual practice for church planters.  WDC has church plants in Liberal and Wichita, KS, and in Dallas and Houston, TX. A Sister Church Task Force nurtures relationships between established and emerging congregations.  Church planting is just one way your gifts to WDC empower congregations to Witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, Dwell in just and loving relationships, and Connect to God’s mission in the world!  As we work together to meet WDC’s budget goal for the year, we request your donation online at wdc@mennowdc.orgor sent to PO Box 306, N. Newton, KS 67117.  Thank you for planting seeds of hope!

2. Healthy Boundaries 101 Training Options:

a)  Healthy Boundaries 101 via Zoom:  Western District Conference is conducting an experiment to make Healthy Boundaries training as accessible as possible to our credentialed ministers.  Trainers and Associate Conference Ministers, Byron Pellecer and Kathy Neufeld Dunn, will be offering a bilingual (Spanish/English) Healthy Boundaries 101 training entirely by Zoom the evenings of April 1 and 2, 6-9:30 pm (Central Time).  Participants will be required to be present via camera the full time both evenings.  If you do not have adequate internet access to allow for this, please contact Kathy (kathynd@mennowdc.org) or Byron (byronp@mennowdc.org) or call 316-283-6300. To register for this training, please go to https://mennowdc.org/healthy-boundaries-101-training/. Cost for WDC participants is $55.  Cost to all other participants will be $65.

b)  Online Healthy Boundaries 101 Training by FaithTrust Institute, March 11-April 12, cost:  $349.  Register at:  https://store.faithtrustinstitute.org/products/online-training-healthy-boundaries-101-fundamentals.

c) Healthy Boundaries 101training will be offered as a “Leadership Clinic” on February 25 just prior to the beginning of AMBS Pastors and Leaders Week in Elkhart, IN.  This Leadership Clinic meets the Healthy Boundaries training requirement for credentialed leaders in Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.  More information at: https://www.ambs.edu/lifelong-learning/leadership-clinics

Any of these training options will fulfill the Western District Conference requirement that every credentialed minister must complete once every three years.

3. Leadership Lunches will continue on the fourth Thursday of each month in 2019. These lunch discussions will be based on Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) principles, competencies, and behaviors, but please come even if you haven’t attended a KLC training. In 2019, we’re planning to use case studies to guide our time together. Come join us on January 24 at the WDC offices from 12-1:30pm (bring your own lunch).  If you want to join via Zoom video conference, let us know (wdc@mennowdc.org), and you will be sent a link. We hope to see you there!

4. KNOW JESUS, organized by the Western District and South Central Conference Youth Ministry Committee of Mennonite Church USA, and hosted by Hesston College, is a weekend-long retreat for Jr. High (6th-8th grade) students to worship together and learn more about their Anabaptist roots.  Our goal is help our young people learn about the rich heritage of their families and churches and also to promote growth in their lives now. Our hope is to provide an environment for our 6th-8th graders to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ. When they leave they will KNOW JESUS better than when they arrived.  Register by January 26 to get the “Early Bird” rate ($50); after that the rate is $60/person – for registrations postmarked January 27-February 2.  More information at:  https://mennowdc.org/know-jesus-2019/

5. WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission encourages pastors and congregations to consider this opportunity for learning and discernment in 2019:  Who Cares About Climate Change? Pastoral Responses to Denial and Despair:  This is a retreat April 8 – 10 (Mon, 5 pm through Wed, 1 pm) at Camp Mennoscah, sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS) at Goshen College. The lead presenter for the retreat will be Doug Kaufman, director of Pastoral Ecology at CSCS and pastor of Benton Mennonite Church, Goshen, IN. The retreat will explore how pastors can lead congregations in effectively responding to the challenge of climate change. Denial and despair help us manage our feelings of guilt and helplessness in the face of this large and complex reality. How does the Gospel of Jesus Christ give us hope? Explore the effects of climate change on brothers and sisters worldwide, our own locales, and ourselves. Engage in peer-to-peer exchanges with fellow pastors on environmental stewardship. Other presenters will be: Rachel Myslivy, assistant director of the Climate + Energy Project, Hutchinson, KS;  Christy Miller Hesed, environmental anthropologist directing a project to lead congregations in addressing climate resilience, Hesston, KS; and Jennifer Schrock, leader of Mennonite Creation Care Network, Goshen, IN.  Due to a generous grant from CSCS, the retreat is free to Mennonite pastors including meals and lodging. Others pay $225.  Register at https://www.mennocreationcare.org/pastoral-retreats/ by March 25.  Questions? Contact Doug Kaufman: ddkaufman@goshen.edu

6. The Hesston College Bel Canto Singers AND the Bethel College Concert Choir will be performing at Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, KS on February 17 at 7 pm. Bringing these two choirs together for a concert is a dream come true for their directors, and it will be a very special evening indeed. Save the date!

7. Mennonite Church of the Servant, Wichita, KS is having an Immigration Movie Night on Friday, January 25 at 7 pm.  “Separated: Children at the Border” – An In-Depth Investigation of How America’s Immigration Policies Reached This Point will be shown.  Discussion and recent updates will follow the presentation.

8. Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS, will host the launch of A NEW VBS CURRICULUM on Saturday, February 23, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., in the BCMC Fellowship Hall.  VBS PLUS, written and produced by SPRINGS FORTH!, Faith Formation, Inc., features two new, five-session curricula for all ages:  pre-school, children, youth, adult so entire congregations can study the same Biblical texts.  This preview is a free event but register at springsforthfaith@gmail.com, by February 15.  Bring all teachers, education committees and pastors to learn about multi-generation VBS (or short-term sessions) resources called “Smelly Camels” or “Nighttime Sleuthing”.  Website www.springsforth.comfor further information.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Summer staff applications WELCOMED!  Camp Mennoscah is searching for and reaching out to those folks 18 and older to be part of our summer leadership family.  We’re looking for lifeguards, music leaders, crafts leaders, office and media assistants, naturalists, and grounds/maintenance.  It will be a summer of fun times, meaningful relationship building, and leadership skills!  Apply online at campmennoscah.orgunder Summer Youth Camps.  This is an amazing way for young adults to serve and grow in faith!
  1. Camp Mennoscah is now accepting applicants for a quarter-time (10 hours/week) custodial-housekeeping position.  The position will remain open until filled.  Contact Olivia at 620-297-3290 or olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.orgfor further information. Spread the word!
  1. Online registration for 2019 Camp Mennoscah Retreats will open January 12!  Go to www.campmennoscah.orgto register for retreats like Scrapbook and Crafts, Family Weekend, and Retirees Retreat.  There’s always something that goes awry in the update–please let us know if something is amiss!  We can’t wait to see you again!

Mennonite church announcements

  1. The Mennonite, Inc., invites your original submissions for our March 2019 print magazine issue and corresponding online content focusing on Lent: Repentance and Transcendence.  More information at:  https://themennonite.org/march-2019-call-submissions-lent/
  1. Graduate Students in Healthcare Professions:  Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) offers educational grants for Anabaptist students to learn and serve in cross-cultural mission/service settings in developing countries. Deadline for 2019-20 academic year is May 15, 2019.  For details and application form, see www.mennohealth.org/student_term/, email info@mennohealth.org, or call 1-888-406-3643.
  1. Calling everyone ages 15-22:Are you looking for a fun and meaningful way to serve this summer? There are spots left to join a 2019  Youth Venture team! See and join in the work God is doing in Indonesia, Peru, Japan, or Benin. Visit www.MennoniteMission.net/SERVE to learn more, or contact Lauren Eash Hershberger at LaurenEH@MennoniteMission.net.  

    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
Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org
Website:  www.mennowdc.org