June 23, 2015

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)


*Completing the Circuit

Completing the Circuit

by Howard Garver, WDC Associate Conference Minister

Western District Conference has a long history of church planting. As with any good story, there is a plot, protagonists and lessons to be learned. There is much that can be celebrated and memorialized.

Those who study history know that, like opposite poles of a battery, the past offers both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ terminals. I suppose that anyone who has lived the Conference’s church planting history or had exposure to church planting is polarized, tending to lean in one direction or another. At the extremes, the ‘positive’ pole attracts those who say that any fruit makes it all worthwhile and have a lingering sense of joy and gratification. The ‘negative’ pole attracts those who have lingering doubts about whether the resources invested are justified by the fruit they see.

The best case scenario is to complete the circuit. Continuing with the battery analogy, to bring the “charge” of those with enthusiasm together with those with the “grounding” that comes with caution. Keeping these ‘poles’ in circuit guards against us drifting toward perpetuating things that have not worked well in the past or, the opposite tendency, toward abandoning cooperative efforts altogether.

It is interesting for me to realize that God’s people, particularly in the Old Testament history, had a tendency to move in both directions simultaneously. During times of futility, obedience was an odd combination of repeating religious behaviors they thought God expected of them while primarily concerned about their own well-being. The remedy was to have a fresh encounter with God and a recalibration of their obedience.

If I were to describe the work of the Church Planting Commission, it is to complete the circuit! Across the Conference we want to inspire the enthusiastic and optimistic to takes steps in their own lives to live a sent life. At the same time, we want to engage the skeptics and pessimists to reconsider the new ways that God is at work in our midst.

While we continue to relate to the existing church planting projects, the Commission has embraced its role in imagining what the future looks like. The past could be described as the Conference initiating church planting projects, rallying congregations to partner with those projects. The future is a culture of churches-planting-churches, requiring much more interaction and learning together.

We expect to start small and go slowly, listening as we go, to promote initiatives, tools and partnerships. Our expectation is that it may not resemble church planting as it has been done in the past. Instead of getting a few congregations to support a few large initiatives, it will likely be getting many congregations to engage in many different kinds of initiatives.

This summer and fall the Church Planting Commission is inviting several “pilot” congregations to work closely with us to begin this journey together. At the Annual Assembly (October 30-31) we expect to have stories to share.

In the midst of many changes in Conference Leadership and lots of distraction, the Church Planting Commission sees its role as providing at least one tether to God’s mission, to see “His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Pray for the Commission in this important role.

WDC Announcements

  1. Below is a link to the Treasurer’s Handbook and Congregational Budgeting Packet. This publication was developed by Mennonite Church USA with added information from Western District Conference. It is designed to help treasurers and stewardship teams develop congregational spending plans. The table of contents lists the resources for aiding the budgeting process as it relates to where you might give to support church-wide ministries, how much you might give, why and how you can provide support. Please pass this link on to your church treasurer and stewardship group:       https://mennowdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Hankbook.pdf


  1. Clarence Rempel concludes as Executive Conference Minister on June 30 and Heidi Regier Kreider begins on August 17. In the in between time, members of the Ministerial Leadership Commission will be available to attend to emergency pastor/congregational matters through contacting Nancy Funk. Staff will be accountable to Richard Gehring, Western District Conference Moderator. Clarence will be available as a consultant for Search Committees and Pastoral Candidates now in process until August 17.


  1. We have four Leadership Transformation scholarships still available from the Kansas Leadership Center for the You.Lead.Now. three-day seminar. Pastors, are there lay leaders you could encourage? Go to https://mennowdc.org/grants/.


  1. A great food option awaits those coming to Kansas City for the Mennonite convention June 30-July 5. Rainbow Mennonite is partnering with a neighborhood catering business to park a food truck across the street from the convention site (along Broadway on Grace and Holy Trinity parking lot). A portion of the proceeds will support our six-week Freedom School summer literacy program. Look for the big, red truck on Tuesday for supper (4:30-7:00 pm), and Wednesday and Thursday for lunch (11:30 am-1:30 pm). The menu will include sandwiches, tacos, salads, sides, sweets, and snacks. Bags of zweibach will also be available. Good food for a good cause!


  1. The WDC Office will be closed Friday, July 3.


  1. All-Ages Family Camp at Camp Mennoscah on July 25-26!  This camp is for everyone of all ages and family groupings!  Join Katie Best and Alan Stucky for a weekend of amazing camp activities like canoeing, swimming, ultimate frisbee, pop break, campfire and worship.  Sign up online at www.campmennoscah.org or call 620-297-3290 for a brochure.  It’s going to be fun for all ages!


  1. Mental Health Spiritual Retreat–The annual Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah is Sept. 6-7.  All who are affected by mental illness, including family members and friends, are welcome to join us in supporting one another, enjoying camp activities, and relaxing in fellowship with others.  Scholarships are available.  Register online or request a brochure at 620-297-3290.


  1. Still room for more campers!  While there are a few camps that are nearly, practically, essentially almost full, Camp Mennoscah has room for more campers.  Please call 620-297-3290 to confirm open spaces or register online.  Our summer theme is Power UP: Living in the Spirit.  We’re having a blast–come be part of it!


  1. Camp Mennoscah and Mennonite Camping Association at MCUSA KC2015!  Camp Mennoscah will be represented at the MCA booth at the MCUSA convention in Kansas City.  Stop by, check out the tee shirts of some of the Mennonite camps, and say hi!  MCA–with the help of convention goers–will be attempting to break a nose flute choir record at the Mennos Got Talent event on Saturday night.  It’s going to be ridiculous fun!


MC USA Announcements

  1. From AMBS Church Leadership Center:


Creating a Scene in Corinth: Conflict in 1 Corinthians (online)

Reta Halteman Finger

September 2-October 13, 2015

Does your busy life squeeze out any hope of studying Scripture on a regular basis? Do you find yourself wondering how such an ancient book can help to discern today’s questions and dilemmas?   Join Dr. Reta Halteman Finger for an inspiring look at the book of 1 Corinthians. No church the Apostle Paul planted had more conflict than the Corinthian house churches. Learn how Paul offers perceptive advice for addressing conflicts between factions and living life as a Christian in a pagan society. Find out how this remarkable book can speak to churches and to our lives today.  You can participate in this 6-week, non-credit class from wherever you are. Learn more and register by August 12 to save on registration fees.  This course is limited to the first 20 participants.


Research for Ministry: Online Seminar

August 1-December 31

Librarians Eileen Saner and Karl Stutzman

You can make the ministry tasks you are already doing richer and more inspiring for you and others by using our online library resources to prepare for sermons, plan worship, lead Bible studies, and reflect on pastoral and theological questions. Join our Research for Ministry: Online Seminar, beginning August 1.   Learn more and register by July 11 to save on registration fees.


  1. You are not too late!  Come join with doctors, nurses, dieticians, therapists, chaplains, mental health workers, and many other healthcare workers and their families from around the world!  It’s the Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) Annual Gathering, July 19-21, immediately prior to Mennonite World Conference Global Assembly in Harrisburg, PA.  The theme is “Walking Together for Healthy Communities.”  Plenary presenters include Ted & Company, Shane Claiborne, and Dr. Ann Thyle from India.  Grants available for students, volunteers, and those from outside of U.S. and Canada.  For more information, go to www.mennohealth/gathering, email infor@mennohealth.org, or call toll-free to 1-888-405-3643.  Final registration deadline:  June 28.


  1. Persons not planning to register for and attend the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City, June 30-July 5, may attend 3 events without registration or cost:  Opening worship at the Convention Center on Tuesday, June 30, from 7:15-8:45 pm; closing worship on Sunday, July 5, from 10-11:30 am, with Shane Claiborne as the featured preacher; and the Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus program on Friday evening, July 3, beginning at 6:30 in the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, located at 415 W 13th St.


  1. Are you excited about Mennonite World Conference’s Assembly this summer, even if you can’t come?  Then join us on social media:  we’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  Share your own photos and stories from life in your Anabaptist community and read about, watch, and listen to what’s happening in Harrisburg this July 21-26.  Find the links at mwc-cmm.org/pa2015.


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