January 16, 2018

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)


*Building a Social Capital of Relationships


Building a Social Capital of Relationships

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

I am constantly reminded that faith makes impossible things possible and not necessarily easy. Therefore, I expect challenges not only in my life and ministry but specially in church planting.

Among the many challenges that the 21st century Church faces, is to believe that faith has to do with easy. Such thinking can lead us to evade our responsibilities.

My reading of Acts 3, led me to reflect on church planting strategies like prayer, healing, testimony, taking risk, connecting, and building relationships. Furthermore, it prompted me to be vigilant of God’s activity in my community.

On the one hand, in the background of this text, Jesus’ resurrection, the experience of Pentecost and of a life of devotion are present.

On the other hand, the gospel of Jesus Christ on the lips of the disciples has moved the new and unexperienced community of believers to the very heart of national religious life, to the Temple.

Peter and John are on their way to the Temple to pray as usual. Such practice indicates not only a life of devotion, but it also signals a sort of social life tradition. I am sure they met with other individuals who practice this spiritual discipline as well.

One of the many approaches, good practices or strategies in church planting is to depend on prayer and to build a social capital of relationships. To build rapport with your community not only takes time but it also requires opening one’s life to the public. Furthermore, it makes one vulnerable.

Every time that I find an opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ to my neighbors, I am mindful that not everybody will be open to a gospel conversation through a friendly chat and yet, I am also encouraged by Paul words to the Romans “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes the Jew first and also the Gentile (Romans 1:16 NLT).”

This power of God at work, is a power that causes healing in some, amazement in others and it provokes anger in the vested interests of those who are threatened by this new life transforming power.

We must admit that the history of the church has examples of short-term communities whose definition of church was more of a pleasant and closed place only for the elect, where everybody looked similar. However, we are challenged to correct such short-sighted comprehension by embracing continuous disciple-making. Such practice implies building rapport in our community which requires us to “go out.”

In other words, the Church needs to decide between the “being inside” approach versus the “get out and go” approach. We need to reclaim and embrace our sacred duty, we need to fulfill our mission. Our call is to holistic witness as agents of healing and hope and bearers of the good news.

Let us be alert to God’s activity in our local communities that may signal an emerging group.
WDC announcements

  1. At their meeting on January 13, the Western District Conference Executive Board approved this statement:  “As Christians, we on the Executive Board of the Western District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA are saddened and appalled by the recent language reportedly used by President Donald Trump and the underlying sentiment toward immigrants that it reflects, including immigrants in our churches.  We condemn his offensive and degrading language and attitudes toward immigrants, especially those from African countries and Haiti.  We believe all peoples, wherever they are from, are loved by God and created in God’s image.  We call on President Trump, other government officials, and ourselves to apologize and repent of demeaning and racist language and attitudes. We call on the people of our churches to pray and act for the well-being of all people and to call our government to act in a way that reflects the value of all human beings.” WDC congregations are encouraged to consider this statement in discerning a prayerful and faithful response to issues of justice and peace. The statement is also being sent to Mennonite media, the White House, and U.S. Congress members from states in which there are WDC congregations.
  1. Continue exploring the themes of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with resources from the Conference Resource Library!  Fiction and nonfiction for all ages on the Civil Rights Movement, white privilege, and racism.  Remember we mail items to churches or individuals at a distance.
  1. Host a Comeback ChurchesBook Review:  Want to share ideas and things you’ve learned through reading Comeback Churches with friends around Western District?  Want to learn from others?  Would your church like to host an area-wide book review?  As part of the Year of Evangelism, WDC Resource Commission will give every English-speaking congregation in WDC a copy of this book by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson.  (Spanish-speaking congregations will receive a different book.) If your congregation would like to be the host location for this kind of conversation in mid to late April, please let Kathy Neufeld Dunn know (kathynd@mennowdc.org. Let’s keep the Year of Evangelism inspiration going!
  1. Save the date! All women are invited to the Western District Women in Mission/South Central Women’s Spring Supper, Thursday March 15, 2018 at 6 pm at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston. Program (7 pm) to follow the $10 supper (fundraiser for the youth).

5. Immigration Movie Night – January 26, 7 pm at Mennonite Church of the Servant, 23rd & Woodland, Wichita KS – You are invited to a free screening of “Home is a Human Right,”  a series of videos on immigration and refugees, produced by Brave New Films. By exploring the growing complexities of immigration in the United States, this series seeks to highlight the human story of immigrants pursuing better lives in the middle of conflict. These three short films—”Pursuing the Dream”, “Nowhere to Go: Shutting Out Syrians”, and “The Call to Sanctuary”—examine issues related to immigration in the U.S. that impact undocumented and refugee communities.  “Pursuing the Dream” looks at the protections provided to undocumented immigrants through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the threats they face from intensified deportation actions. “Nowhere to Go: Shutting Out Syrians” tells the stories of everyday Syrians living amidst a violent civil war and what has driven millions to flee their homeland. “The Call to Sanctuary” breaks down the ways that communities and individuals can support their undocumented neighbors through a how-to video guide. Following the screening, a panel with experts on immigration and refugee resettlement will discuss how these issues impact the Wichita area.  For more information, contact Bret Preheim bapreheim@gmail.com, Lois Barrett  barrettmierau@att.netor Pat Cameron patcam@southwind.net.

6.  We’re cleaning out the archives!  Back issues of The Mennonite, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, Group, Children’s Ministry, and more are available (first come, first served) at the WDC Resource Library in North Newton, KS until January 26.  Stop by and take some home today!  (Donations welcome.)

Camp Mennoscah announcements
You’ve got kid skills–spend the summer at camp!  Camp Mennoscah will be talking with people interested in being on summer staff for the upcoming summer.  We’ll be at Goshen College on Feb. 9 and Hesston, Tabor, Bethel, and McPherson on February 12-15 respectively.  Get started on those applications!  Go to campmennoscah.org/application!  We’ll schedule interviews soon.  It’s going to be an absolute blast of a summer!

Hymn Sing and Dessert Auction for “Creation, Craftiness, and Cooling Off”! Camp Mennoscah invites everyone to join us from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, February 25,at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston. We’ll sing our favorite hymns, bid on delectable desserts, and hear about how, with your help, camp provides afternoon activities for campers to stay cool, be crafty, and learn about God’s creation. Funds raised will go toward the Camp Mennoscah general fund. Come and join us!

Camp Mennoscah.  Volunteers needed Saturday, January 20, to remove shingles for remodel construction of the kitchen/dining hall and entrance.  Start time is 9:00am.  If you can help, call the camp office at 620-297-3014or Jim Yoder at phone 316-284-3890 or email jdyoder@cox.net.

2018 Retreat Registration is open!  You are now able to sign up for all 2018 Camp Mennoscah Retreats.  Those coming up soon are the Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats (Feb. 23-25 and March 2-4) and the Youth Volunteer Weekend (March 16-17).  We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Mennonite church announcements
Thank youso much for your continued support in making and donating comforters for MCC. This past year, MCC sent 49,223 blankets and comforters to people experiencing war, displacement, and natural disasters in Bosnia, Iraq, Jordan, North Korea, Somalia, and Ukraine. 1,958 of those came from the Central States region! MCC continues to receive more requests for comforters from our partners around the world. Save the date for the upcoming Comforter Blitz in Yoder, Kansas, taking place on March 5th-7th, 2018, as we work together to bring comfort to our brothers and sisters around the world, mcc.org/comforter-blitz!

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