WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
July 2, 2013
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:
*Clarence’s Clarion Call – Immigration
Clarence’s Clarion Call – Immigration
by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He….loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Two motivations are given for extending hospitality to immigrants. First, the people of God are to mimic the Almighty God in loving the foreigner. Second, people are reminded of their own oppression and suffering as immigrants and asked to turn that memory into compassionate action.
Hospitality to immigrants is not a minor concern in Scripture. This is one of at least fifteen paragraphs in the book of Deuteronomy alone. The prophets send reminders. “Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner” (Jeremiah 22:3). Jesus includes it as one of the primary criteria of God’s judgment. “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…” (Matthew 25:42-43).
How do these biblical instructions guide us as disciples of Jesus in the current national immigration debate?
1. Action. The most powerful intervention by the church is simply living out the instruction of Scripture and the example of Jesus in extending hospitality and care to those who are most vulnerable in our neighborhood. I have been blessed by Western District Conference churches simply sharing food and faith and providing shelter and jobs to “strangers” they find in their communities. Being the good news is the church’s best initiative.
2. Prayer. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1-2). Certainly, this is a time to pray God’s wisdom and mercy for our members of Congress as they seek to reform immigration law in ways that care for people. My daughter, a migrant worker attorney, noted that the recent Senate Immigration Bill “guarantees transparency and accountability in the hiring of internationally recruited workers” who have often paid high up-front fees to recruiters who in turn keep them permanently indebted in low pay jobs.
3. Learn. I look forward to learning more by traveling to Mexico and to the border with BorderLinks during the Phoenix 2013 Assembly this week. At our Western District Reference Council in March, I learned that until the late 1800s there were no laws or limitations on immigration to the United States. I learned that wars and economics create the push and pull of immigration. People move seeking food and safety because of dire circumstances. Addressing those underlying circumstances is far more cost effective than building and maintaining fences. The Western District Immigration Task Force is ready to provide sermons and seminars to churches wanting to learn more.
4. Advocate. Mennonite Central Committee continues to provide up to date information on how best to communicate our desires for immigrant hospitality to our legislators. Tammy Alexander from MCC will be with us at our Assembly on August 3 with a seminar “Immigration Reform: Where It Stands and How You Can Help.” The Task Force will also be there with information at a table display.
God “loves the foreigners residing among you…you are to love those who are foreigners.” How are you responding?
July 7 – Pray for the teachers and leaders preparing for the Year of the Bible Launch, August 1-2, in North Newton, Kansas. Pray that our churches and pastors will be challenged to engage the Scriptures with greater intensity and intentionality “so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:17).
July 14 – Pray for Brian Harmon, the new pastor of First Mennonite Church, Halstead, who is being commissioned today.
July 21 – Pray for Bob Beecher, the new pastor of Beatrice Mennonite Church, who is being commissioned today.
July 28 – Pray for preachers, teachers, presenters, and presiders for the Western District Conference Assembly 2013 meeting in North Newton, Kansas, August 2-3. Pray God’s inspiration and encouragement for all delegates and participants as they are “Shaped by God’s Story.”
Aug 1-2 – WDC Year of the Bible Launch, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Aug 2-3 – WDC Annual Assembly 2013, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
Sept 15 – Michael Novelli, Year of the Bible event for youth leaders, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
Oct 26 – Reference Council
Oct 31 – New Pastor Orientation, WDC Office, North Newton, KS
Nov 1 – Prevention of Pastoral Misconduct, Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS
Nov 21 – Pastors’ Day Apart
The July issue of Parish Paper, entitled “The Great Recession: Its Effects on Congregations and What We Learned” can be viewed at: https://mennowdc.org/resources/publications/parish-paper/
1. Engage God’s Word through Experiential Worship during the Year of the Bible Launch, August 1-2 at Bethel College, North Newton, KS. After we eat a chef-prepared Biblical foods buffet, we will dive into worship that is Biblically focused from start to finish! Register online at: www.mennowdc.org.
2. Explore what it means to Read the Bible through an Anabaptist lens at Western District Conference Assembly on August 2-3. Loren Johns, AMBS professor of New Testament will provide input and inspiration on the Anabaptist Approach to scripture and a dozen other fantastic leaders, professors, teachers and pastors will lead additional Biblically-based seminars. Brochures and registration information at www.mennowdc.org.
3. Family Camp is July 27-28 at Camp Mennoscah! It’s time to get those registration forms in, folks. We know you’ve been waiting to see if all the cool folks will be going and the answer is YES! Everyone who signs up for Family Camp is one of the coolest. Monty and Hope Graber will lead us in activities–river play, swimming, campfire, worship, and much more! Brochures can be found at www.campmennoscah.org or by calling 620-297-3290. We can wait to have you at Camp Mennoscah for our weekend of family fun!
4. Blessings are raining down on us! Not only have we had rain and cooler days at Camp Mennoscah, but we have also had numerous volunteers who have given generously of their time to help us out. Some have given us more than one week, others have filled in for last minute openings. On top of all the hours and skills shared, we have also received generous donations. We are grateful for all of these wonderful folks. Thank you!
5. End your summer with a week of fun! Camp Mennoscah is looking for a few counselors for camps in the second half of the summer, especially female counselors for our Senior High Camp, July 28-August 2. For Senior High Camp, counselors must be at least a senior in college (or equivalent age). Pastors and other church leaders welcome! Contact Camp Mennoscah at email@example.com or 620-297-3290 for more information.
6. Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania, Newton, KS, will celebrate their 5th anniversary on July 14. Contact Pastor Jaime Cazares for more information: 316-644-5800; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mennonite ChurchUSA Announcements
1. Please post this announcement in your July 7 and 14 bulletins: The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary-Great Plains is conducting a survey this summer (late July-early August) to assist in developing theological education in Kansas. This study will include Western District congregations. Please take the 10 minutes needed to respond to the survey if you are one of the randomly selected persons. All responses are confidential. – Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
2. Are you interested in growing and passing on your faith through learning more about the Bible? a Sunday school teacher, church leader or deacon? graduated from seminary more than 10 years ago? Here are some exciting learning opportunities just for you.
- Study the Bible by enrolling in a course through Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary-Great Plains Extension. Related fall courses include Gospel of John and Reading the Bible (on-line); January 2014 interterm: Isaiah and Spiritual Disciplines: Scripture; Spring: Beginning Hebrew (on-line); Summer 2014: Biblical Spirituality.
- Receive a scholarship for this study. To encourage participation in Year of the Bible, the WDC Resource Commission is offering special scholarships for people enrolling (credit or audit) in a Bible course through AMBS or AMBS-Great Plains. Contact Western District Conference (email@example.com, 316-283-6300) to request the scholarship. Special rates for auditors and people over 65 also are available. Register at www.ambs.edu/academics/Great-Plains-courses.cfm or email Dorothy Nickel Friesen, interim director; firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary – Pastors Week Jan. 27-30, 2014
Increasingly the church in North America reflects the fractured, divisive nature of our culture. Instead of healthy conversation among sisters and brothers, we often hear labeling, finger pointing and name calling. Instead of communities of discernment, the church is often divided into camps that reflect particular ideologies. Pastors Week presenters believe that helping the congregation to focus on Jesus is one essential leadership task in these times. And they contend that diverse points of view make the picture of Jesus clearer. They encourage us to ask, “What in the ‘Other’ might help us to recognize Jesus in places we haven’t looked?” Five AMBS professors will show how different lenses can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to see Jesus.
Rachel Miller Jacobs, DMin, Assistant Professor of Congregational Formation, AMBS
Safwat Marzouk, PhD, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, AMBS
Jamie Pitts, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anabaptist Studies
Allan Rudy-Froese, PhD, Assistant Professor of Christian Proclamation
Andy Brubacher Kaethler, PhD, Assistant Professor of Christian Formation and Culture
Worship leaders: Janeen Bertsche Johnson, Campus Pastor, AMBS; Cyneatha Millsaps, Pastor, Community Mennonite Church, Markham, Ill.
4. Mennonite Church USA established the DREAMer Fund for Mennonite youth who are undocumented and who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This fund will help young people pay the required fees when they apply. Visit http://www.mennoniteusa.org/executive-board/immigration/ for more information.
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620