July 18, 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)


*Wait for the Wind


Wait for the Wind

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

Wait for the wind to blow, then allow this wind to take you.

While living in Florida I often went to Biscayne Bay for a walk, meditation or to enjoy the sea breeze. I remember gazing at all kinds of boats navigating from one place to the other. But sailing boats always captivated my attention.

I recall sharing my taste for this type of boats with the congregation that I pastored in South Florida. Over time, I managed to have a small collection of miniature sailing boats at both the church and my home office. When I found myself a bit lost and in need of realignment, I looked at my ‘replicas’ and my mind, heart and imagination began to sail in uncharted waters.

Tom Cheyney in “Nuts and Bolts of Church Revitalization” asserts that according to research a high number of churches “have plateaued or are declining.” He considers seven pillars of church revitalization: Refocusing, re-visioning, renewal, reinvention, restoration, restart-repotting, and renovation.  Cheyney also upholds that “the Church is like a sailboat,” but my understanding is that most sailboats are powerless. In my opinion, regardless of size and age, any sailing boat without the wind and anchored at the port is just a pile of wood or a nice embellishment.

I wonder if we could engage in a conversation with an ‘old sail boat’, what stories and experiences would this boat share? Probably, it tells us which adventures this vessel remembers the most or the rough seas it sailed through!

I can only imagine what dreams a ‘new sail boat’ might have! Or how dare this boat would be wanting to conquer the unexplored waters.

If we could interview the Matthew 14 ‘battered boat’ what would it say about its experiences, fears and hopes? Would this ship emphasize the rough seas and how destructive the waves were, or perhaps it would tell the Jesus’ story and what happened when he came on board? Because even the wind changed.

I am sure, interviews like those could reveal a wealth of knowledge and experience that could be useful today. Maybe connecting the voices from our history with the many voices of our present might help us find a new way into the future, who knows?

If the Church, whether established or emerging, is like a sail boat, then the church would have to learn to depend on the power and direction of the Spirit. I am no expert in sail boats or any other kind of boats for that matter, but I am under the impression that a sail boat is designed to harness the wind to power it and to navigate the ‘waters.’ Sometimes these waters might be stilled or untamed, either way ships are designed to sail waters.

Wait for the wind to blow, then allow this wind to take you. It does not mean the church should “leave everything up to God” or chance. In contrast, the church should do its homework. Perhaps the church needs to consider the evolving realities and context of its neighbors and the type of ministry that the congregation has been called to or maybe the church needs to go over the relevance of its vision.

Church revitalization and growth needs both the wind of the Holy Spirit and to know the waters to which the church is called to sail. Therefore, I cannot see church revitalization and growth separated from each other or as ‘programs’ of the church. Like discipleship and mission, they too should be considered as part of church’s DNA. I wonder if we need to revisit and challenge our understanding and practice of missions and missionaries. After all, change will always challenge one’s comfort zone.

Perhaps, the church has been enticed and being seduced to enter a ‘maintenance mode.’ Rather the church is confronted to engage the ‘sent mode.’

What kind of wind is the church hoping for? What sea is the church expecting to sail?

What does “sent” or “sailing” look like in the urban and rural settings? How does the church nurture children, youth, and adults in becoming follower of Jesus? How does the church witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ? Undoubtedly, the areas to deal with might be countless nevertheless necessary.

I encourage our WDC churches to continue wrestling with questions that will lead them into concrete actions.

By the way, I still have some of my miniature sailing boats. From time to time, I still find myself gazing, hoping, and waiting for God’s wind. But above all, I pray not to miss this holy wind (Acts 2).

WDC announcements

  1.  WDC Annual Assembly – coming soon – August 4-6 in Arlington, TX.  Registration deadline is tomorrow, July 19!  For complete information, or to register and pay online, go to:  https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2017annualAssembly.  Updated delegate information is also posted there.
  1. All are welcome to attend the two worship services at the WDC Annual Assembly without preregistering or payment.  These will be held on Friday, August 4 at 7 pm and on Sunday, August 6 at 9:30 am at the Doubletree Hotel Arlington DFW South, in Arlington, TX.
  1. Seats are still available on the charter bus going to the WDC Annual Assembly August 4-6.  Consider traveling by bus to eliminate the stress of driving on your own, as well as to enjoy the company and fellowship of traveling with others!  The bus will also transport you from the hotel to the mini-festival at Luz del Evangelio on Saturday evening.  It’s stress-free travel!  Call Nancy at WDC(316-283-6300) to reserve a seat on the bus.  Cost for a seat is $75.
  1. Reminder to church offices:  Tomorrow, July 19, is the date by which to submit your WDC Annual Assembly Delegate List Form.  This requiredform can be submitted online at:  https://mennowdc.org/online-delegate-list-form/, or use the paper form sent in early June.  Or alternately, you can just reply to this email with the following information:  church name, address, membership number (as of January 1, 2017), and delegate names.  Thank you!
  1. Leadership Lunch!  Our next Leadership Lunch (bring your own sack lunch) is scheduled for Thursday, July 20 from 12-1:30 pm at the WDC office.  Each month, we are discussing a different Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) competency and how it relates to scripture, Anabaptist theology and practice, and our own areas of ministry.  This month, we will focus on “Work Across Factions”.  All pastors and ministry leaders from both WDC and SCC are welcome even if you haven’t attended a KLC training or one of the previous Leadership Lunches.  We hope that these lunches will encourage and empower each of us to exercise more leadership for the common good in our churches and communities.  If you have questions, please contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn (kathyne@mennowdc.org), Rachel Siemens (pastor.rachel@faithmenno.org) or Phil Schmidt (pschmidt@tabormennonite.org).
  2.  Attention church offices, Western District Women in Mission requests that this announcement be placed in your bulletins and/or newsletters:Registration is now open for the Womens/Girls Retreat (3rd grade and up) at Camp Mennoscah September 8-10. Our theme is “Together: Rooted and Reaching” with Barb Krehbiel Gehring as our featured speaker. Retreat schedules and registration forms are available in the church office or available to print at:  https://mennowdc.org/calendar/. We will celebrate 100 years of Mennonite Women organizations through stories and a hymn sing Friday evening. There will be no separate girls programming this year, so girls should register for Saturday morning and afternoon activities and seminars. Hope to see you all at Camp Mennoscah!  (Note the flyer and registration forms attached.)
  1. First Mennonite Church, McPherson, KS was the recipient of a member’s piano when they passed away.  They are offering the piano to any WDC church that could use it.  It’s a Wurlitzer piano made between 1980-1990. It’s 2′ wide by 37.5″ tall by 57.5″ long, and in very good condition (picture attached). It will need to be tuned once it finds its forever home.  They ask for a donation that will go into the person’s memorial fund for future music projects/programs. Contact Aaron Stucky at:  stuckya2003@yahoo.com.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Family Camp at Camp Mennoscah!  We’re gathering for a weekend of relaxing and fun on July 29-30.  Maybe you thought it was too late, but we’ll accept registrations until we’re full.  Call your family and friends, grab your sleeping bag, and spend a weekend with us!  Register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290.  We’ll get you signed up!
  1. Calling all youthful adults!  The Young Adult Weekend at Camp Mennoscah is August 4-6and will be a hootin’ good time.  Like definitely more fun than whatever else you might be doing.  We’ll be expecting you and all your chums to join us.  But maybe–just maybe–register online at campmennoscah.org to let us know that you’re coming or give us a holler at 620-297-3290 so we know how to plan for food.  Scholarships available as part of the registration process.  We’ll see you there!
  1. Camp Mennoscah Bridge Out–The Smoots Creek bridge to the south of Hwy 54 will be closed beginning July 17 for replacement.  Alternate routes to Camp Mennoscah will be posted on the website and Facebook.  The closure is expected to last until June 2018.

Mennonite church announcements

  1. The 2017 issue of Mennonite Life, Bethel College’s annual online journal, is now live at ml.bethelks.edu. This special issue is almost completely devoted to a consideration of “500 years of Anabaptism,” with an essay by Ben Goossen, “Why 500 Years?: A Critique of Anabaptism’s Upcoming Anniversary Celebration,” and 13 responses from Anabaptists in the United States and Canada, as well as Colombia and South Korea.
  1. Save the date: Sat., Nov. 18, 4th biennial Worship and the Arts Symposium at Bethel College; “Seasons of the Soul: Enacting the Mystery of Faith,” with special guest presenter and resource person Ted Swartz. Symposium registration includes Swartz’s performance of “Slightly Left of Normal,” Fri., Nov. 17, in Krehbiel Auditorium (admission charge for non-symposium registrants). For a complete schedule and online registration, see bethelks.edu/worshiparts

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