WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
June 1, 2021
A weekly communication for WDC Churches and Pastors
WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members
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forwarded to congregational leaders and members.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
*One Small Step
*WDC Ministerial and Credential Announcements
One Small Step
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
“Why were you interested in having this conversation?” “Who has been kind to you during your life?” “What was your earliest memory of politics?”
These were questions the One Small Step facilitator asked my conversation partner and me to start off our recent online discussion. I was moved to hear my conversation partner say that Jesus is the one who has shown him the greatest kindness. His introduction to politics was when family members from Catholic and Methodist backgrounds were relieved to have Jimmy Carter – a “good Christian man” – elected president of the United States. I told about my Grammy – also from Methodist background – who married into the Mennonite community and demonstrated her kindness through home-baked peppernuts sent overseas to our family living in Congo as mission workers. I shared a negative memory of the corrupt and authoritarian politics of president Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo/Zaire. The next 50 minutes in our One Small Step conversation went by quickly, as we talked about faith, family histories, life experience and both our agreements and disagreements about some current issues. We concluded by expressing appreciation and thanks for what each one had shared.
One Small Step (OSS) is a nationwide project created by the non-profit organization StoryCorps, designed to match persons from different points of view for conversations about themselves. The intent is to help people get past labels like “Republican” and “Democrat”, “liberal” and “conservative” and see each other as people. (See https://storycorps.org/discover/onesmallstep/.) As the OSS website says, “If you are worried about the divides and the chaos in the country, if you are tired of the shouting, if you are asking “What can I do to help?” here is one answer: Take One Small Step with StoryCorps. We are asking people with different political views to record a StoryCorps interview with each other. Why? To remember our shared humanity, and to remind us that we have more in common than divides us and that treating those with whom we disagree with decency and respect is essential to a functioning democracy.”
For me, as a follower of Jesus who seeks to be a peacemaker, such courageous conversations are not merely essential to democracy, but also one small way to honor each person’s experience, recognize the presence of God in another, and practice divine hospitality. I believe we should do much more of this – not only with strangers, but also within the church.
So, when StoryCorps invited Western District Conference to participate in OSS, I was excited! This came with the selection of Wichita, KS, as one of four cities across the United States to lead the OSS initiative. To test out the experience, I signed up for a recording session and was matched with a conversation partner from Wichita. We both had a good experience!
StoryCorps offered the option of also having dedicated recording days for WDC members to be matched for conversations with other WDC members. Since the theme for our upcoming Annual Assembly (July 30-Aug 1) is “Woven Into God’s Story,” it seemed OSS would be an excellent complement. We have designated several days leading up to assembly for WDC members to participate in a recorded conversation with another WDC member. You may sign up at https://onesmallstep.storycorps.org/wdc/. After you register, you will be matched with another conversation partner from WDC, given further instructions, and scheduled for a recorded online session on July 28, 29 or 30, guided by an experienced StoryCorps facilitator. The deadline for registrations is June 25.
There is a chance that WDC participants may already be acquainted with each other – or find themselves at different ends of the political or theological spectrum from each other! Either way, remember – as the OSS website says – these conversations are not really about politics. “They are about who we are as people and what we share… It’s an opportunity to talk about the life experiences that formed your values, and to listen with respect while learning about the person across from you.”
I encourage you to take One Small Step!
Un Pequeño Paso
“¿Por qué estabas interesado en tener esta conversación?” “¿Quién ha sido amable contigo durante tu vida?” “¿Cuál fue tu primer recuerdo de la política?”
Estas fueron preguntas que el facilitador de Un Pequeño Paso(One Small Step) nos hizo a mi interlocutor y a mí para comenzar nuestra reciente discusión en línea. Me conmovió escuchar a mi interlocutor decir que Jesús es quien le ha mostrado la mayor bondad. Su introducción a la política fue cuando los familiares de origen católico y metodista se sintieron aliviados de que Jimmy Carter, un “buen cristiano”, fuera elegido presidente de los Estados Unidos. Le hablé de mi abuela, también de origen metodista, que se casó con miembros de la comunidad menonita y demostró su bondad a través de “peppernuts” (galletas pequeñas horneadas en casa) enviadas al extranjero a nuestra familia que vivía en el Congo como obreros misioneros. Compartí un recuerdo negativo de la política corrupta y autoritaria del presidente Mobutu Sese Seko de Congo/Zaire. Los siguientes 50 minutos de nuestra conversación de One Small Step pasaron rápidamente, mientras hablamos sobre la fe, las historias familiares, la experiencia de vida y nuestros acuerdos y desacuerdos sobre algunos temas actuales. Concluimos expresando aprecio y agradecimiento por lo que cada uno había compartido.
One Small Step (OSS) es un proyecto nacional creado por la organización sin fines de lucro StoryCorps, diseñado para unir personas desde diferentes puntos de vista para conversar sobre ellos mismos. La intención es ayudar a la gente a superar etiquetas como “republicano” y “demócrata”, “liberal” y “conservador” y verse unos a otros como personas. (Ver https://storycorps.org/discover/onesmallstep/ .) Como dice el sitio web de OSS, “Si estás preocupado por las divisiones y el caos en el país, si estás cansado de los gritos, si estás preguntando” ¿Que puedo hacer para ayudar?” aquí hay una respuesta: Dé un pequeño paso con StoryCorps. Estamos pidiendo a personas con diferentes puntos de vista políticos que graben una entrevista de StoryCorps entre ellos. ¿Por qué? Recordar nuestra humanidad compartida y recordarnos que tenemos más en común de lo que nos divide y que tratar a aquellos con quienes no estamos de acuerdo con decencia y respeto es esencial para una democracia que funcione “.
Para mí, como seguidora de Jesús que busca ser una pacificadora, esas conversaciones valientes no son solo esenciales para la democracia, sino también una pequeña forma de honrar la experiencia de cada persona, reconocer la presencia de Dios en otra y practicar la hospitalidad divina. Creo que deberíamos hacer mucho más de esto, no solo con extraños, sino también dentro de la iglesia.
Entonces, cuando StoryCorps invitó a la Conferencia del Westen District (WDC) a participar en OSS, ¡estaba emocionada! Esto vino con la selección de Wichita, KS, como una de las cuatro ciudades de los Estados Unidos para liderar la iniciativa OSS. Para probar la experiencia, me inscribí en una sesión de grabación y me emparejaron con un compañero de conversación de Wichita. ¡Ambos tuvimos una buena experiencia!
StoryCorps ofreció la opción de tener también días de grabación dedicados para que los miembros de WDC se emparejen para conversar con otros miembros de WDC. Dado que el tema de nuestra próxima Asamblea Anual (del 30 de julio al 1 de agosto) es “Entrelazados en la historia de Dios”, parecía que OSS sería un excelente complemento. Hemos designado varios días previos a la asamblea para que los miembros de WDC participen en una conversación grabada con otro miembro de WDC. Puede registrarse en https://onesmallstep.storycorps.org/wdc/ . Después de registrarse, se le asignará otro interlocutor de WDC, se le darán más instrucciones y se le programará una sesión grabada en línea el 28, 29 o 30 de julio, guiada por un facilitador experimentado de StoryCorps. La fecha límite para inscripciones es el 25 de junio.
Existe la posibilidad de que los participantes de WDC ya se conozcan entre sí, ¡o se encuentren en diferentes extremos del espectro político o teológico entre sí! De cualquier manera, recuerde, como dice el sitio web de OSS, estas conversaciones no son realmente sobre política. “Se trata de quiénes somos como personas y de lo que compartimos … Es una oportunidad para hablar sobre las experiencias de la vida que formaron tus valores y para escuchar con respeto mientras aprendes sobre la persona frente a ti”
¡Te animo a dar un pequeño paso!
June 6 – Pray for WDC children, youth and their leaders participating in vacation Bible School, and at Camp Mennoscah and other camps this summer.
June 13 – Pray for God’s guidance and joy for the WDC Annual Assembly planning team, as they prepare for our hybrid (in-person and online) gathering July 30-Aug 1 with worship, delegate business, learning seminars and fellowship.
June 20 – Pray for health and strength for pastors in WDC, as they work with congregational leaders to provide leadership, care and direction for church communities.
June 27 – Pray for health and strength for members of WDC congregations and their communities, as we continue to move forward from the pandemic.
June 3 – WDC Executive Board
June 18 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission
June 24 – WDC Final Thursday Book Discussion
July 30-Aug 1 – WDC Assembly
1. Staff Announcement: WDC Administrative Assistant Nancy Funk has announced her plans to retire August 31, 2021. She writes, “I am so grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to work at WDC for the last 17+ years. My decision to retire at this time comes with mixed feelings of excitement for what’s ahead and sadness for what will be left behind. I have enjoyed my work very much and felt valued in my role. Working with the various staff members over the years and learning to know many pastors and others has indeed been a blessing to me. I also look forward to a new chapter of life and the possibilities that it brings.” We are grateful for Nancy’s faithful service to WDC, and will be making plans to recognize Nancy and prepare for this transition on the WDC staff. More information will be announced later.
2. Information about the WDC Annual Assembly (July 30-Aug 1) will be emailed to churches and pastors this week.
3. Texas Joint Mennonite Worship: As the Covid Pandemic seems to be coming to an end in our country, let us gather in worship again. All are welcome to join us online on June 12 at 6:30 pm for a service of song, scripture, and prayer. We will hear a message from the associate conference minister for Texas, Sandra Montez-Martinez, music from Hope Fellowship and Casa Del Alfarero, and updates from the churches represented. Let us lift up our hearts in prayer and thanksgiving together.
4. BIG NEWS from the Western District Women in Mission! The Women’s Retreat at Camp Mennoscah will happen in-person this September! Details are being discussed but please circle the dates of Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12 and consider joining our fellowship and reconnecting. Of course, some things will look different including no programming for girls, only meeting on Saturday and Sunday, building use being limited, bodies being one year older, etc. We’ll send out more details and registration information later this summer; hope to see you there!
WDC Ministerial and Credential announcements
E. Stanley Bohn, retired pastor, passed away on May 19.
Laura Goerzen, Pastor at First Mennonite Church of Christian, Moundridge, KS, has resigned effective July 15. She will become the Pastor at First Menonite Church in Newton, KS on August 23.
Mennonite church announcements
1. Join Mennonite Church USA on Facebook Live: Wednesday, June 2 (12:30 p.m. EDT/11:30 a.m. CDT/10:30 a.m. MDT/9:30 a.m. PDT): MennoCon21 registrations are on the rise! Join MC USA’s Executive Director Glen Guyton and Director of Event Planning Scott Hartman for an update on the upcoming hybrid convention. Guyton also will talk about how to make the most of MC USA’s new “Defund the Police?” abolition curriculum.
2. Join Jerusalem Seminar this winter! Bethel College and Tabor College are again sponsoring a trip to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, from December 26, 2021, to January 15, 2022. The four emphases of the trip are to (1) understand the Bible in its context, (2) learn about the three major religions of the area (Judaism, Islam, Eastern Christianity), (3) understand the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and (4) take time for reflection, worship, and prayer together. There is currently room for additional persons to participate. If interested, contact Peter Goerzen (firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately. Cost is estimated at $4700-$4900 per person.
3. Mennonite Church USA has announced the list of in-person and online equipping seminars for youth and adults for this year’s hybrid MennoCon21 convention, to be held July 6-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and online. Learn more here: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/seminars-mennocon21
4. Glen Guyton, the executive director of Mennonite Church USA, has partnered with Dove’s Nest to help churches keep children and youth safe. For tips, resources and to learn more about Guyton’s work with Dove’s Nest, read this news release: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/keep-boys-safe
5. Mennonite Church USA responded to a proposed resolution from South Central Mennonite Conference (SCMC), calling for the dissolution of the conference. SCMC delegates will vote on the resolution at their assembly in July. “Our prayers are with the communities and people of SCMC,” said Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA. Learn more here: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/responds-scmc-proposal
6. When life gets hard, it is difficult to find the peace. In her blog, “Feel the Peace,” Ana Alicia Hinojosa, who will be the July 6 worship speaker at MennoCon21, reflects on her conference topic by grappling with where the peace goes when everything feels like it is falling apart. https://www.mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/feel-the-peace/
7. Retired Mennonite Church USA Executive Board staff member Carol Epp passed away April 24. Menno Snapshots re-shared the blog “Remembering Carol Epp: A Reflection on Her Service” as a tribute to her many years of service. Read it here: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/remembering-carol-epp/
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