WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
June 25, 2019
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.
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Gleaning Wisdom from MC USA Leaders
Gleaning Wisdom from MC USA Leaders
by Michael Unruh, Camp Mennoscah Executive Director
Earlier this month I traveled to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary for the on-campus portion of my summer class, “Christian Leadership in the 21st Century.” Part of each afternoon was spent listening to various leaders in Mennonite Church USA talk about experiences that have shaped their approach to leadership. We had the privilege of hearing from Sara Wenger-Shenk, President of AMBS; Glen Guyton, Executive Director of MCUSA; Ellie Soto, former Moderator of MCUSA; Sue Park-Hur, MCUSA Denominational Minister for Leadership Development; and Leonard Dow, Everence Stewardship and Development Specialist.
What a distinguished list of leaders in Mennonite Church USA! During these afternoon sessions, we were on the edge of our seats, hanging on their words and aggressively taking notes. While each of these people had their own unique paths toward Christian leadership, and while the stories they so graciously shared with us were diverse, some common themes emerged within their wisdom that I have taken with me and now hope to share two of them with you.
The first is quite simple: be yourself. Many of us have heard these two words often since childhood, but when stepping into leadership roles, there can be pressure to lead a certain way or exhibit certain characteristics of a “typical” leader. It was amazing to hear stories from these MCUSA leaders about times when they had tried to lead like someone else, and others could perceive their inauthenticity. In contrast, by using the gifts they had been given, rather than trying to conform to a general leadership mold, their leadership took on a more genuine, fulfilling form. For a couple of these leaders, being themselves was deeply rooted in their identity as a child of God and their awareness as such. I appreciate the simplicity and profundity of such awareness.
The second is recognizing that leadership involves working with people. Pretty obvious, right? You can’t be a leader if you’re not leading anyone. But, it can be easy to focus on tasks, processes, structures, and committees, while neglecting the individual persons who comprise them. When people are involved, adaptation in leadership is necessary. Meeting people where they are and abundantly extending grace (to others, and to one’s self) is crucial, according to the leaders with whom we spoke.
I could say much more, but I hope that you, like I, see the value in these two pieces of wisdom. One of the most difficult questions posed, for most of us, was “What is it about Christian leadership that is explicitly Christian?” I could give you the insightful answers of these MCUSA leaders as well as my own, incomplete response, but as a way of closing this writing, and to issue a bit of a challenge, I would like to pose a similar question for your reflection: What is it about your leadership, in whatever context you find yourself, that is explicitly Christian?
July 7 – Pray for the WDC Gifts Discernment Committee as they conclude selection of nominees for leadership roles in WDC, and give thanks for persons who have agreed to serve in these roles.
July 14 – Pray for deacons, councils, boards and other leadership teams in WDC congregations who work with pastors to equip, guide, and care for our church communities.
July 21 – Pray for safe travels and a Spirit-filled gathering for all who attend the WDC Annual Assembly next weekend at Bethel College on the theme “We are Witnesses.”
July 28 – Give thanks for the WDC Annual Assembly gathering that took place this weekend on the theme “We are Witnesses,” and pray that all WDC congregations and members will give witness to God’s good news of healing, hope, justice and peace in Christ.
July 2-6 – MennoCon19, Kansas City, MO
July 4-5 – WDC Office and Conference Resource Library closed
July 26-27 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
July 29 – WDC Office and Conference Resource Library closed
Aug 6 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
Aug 27 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
Sept 5 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
Sept 6-8 – Women & Girl’s Retreat, Camp Mennoscah
Sept 14 – WDC Reference Council
Oct 17-18 – Constituency Leaders Council, Phoenix, AZ
July 31-Aug 2, 2020 – WDC Annual Assembly, Texas location
1. There will be a Family Festival on the Saturday evening of the Western District Conference Annual Assembly, July 26-27 on Bethel College campus, North Newton KS. It will feature a hamburger/hotdog picnic, an inflatable bouncy house, a coffee house concert at MoJo’s and more. It’s open to the public, so invite your friends and neighbors! (Donations welcome at the event.) For more information, go to https://mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2019annualAssembly
2. Ministers are invited for WDC Ministers’ Afternoon Apart
on Friday, July 26, 1-5 pm (prior to WDC Annual Assembly) in the Cafeteria of Bethel College, 300 East 27th Street, North Newton, KS. The theme of this resourcing event sponsored by the WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission will be Life-Giving Missional Church Leadership
with facilitators Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg, director of the new Center for Anabaptist Leadership and Learning ministry program at Hesston College, and Michele Hershberger, Bible and Youth Ministry Professor at Hesston. Join Michele and Jessica on the journey of being and becoming a missional church, as they use personal stories of success and failure, and open discussions in a safe place to explore these questions: In light of all of the other responsibilities pastors are expected to carry out, how do we have time to be missional leaders? What is the difference between “Missional” and another program? What if it doesn’t fit into our church schedule? What are the hidden barriers, and hidden rewards? What are some strategies and practices that can help in the process of becoming more missional? Registration of $25 per person payable to WDC includes mid-afternoon snack and drinks. To register, go to https://mennowdc.org/wdc-ministers-afternoon-apart/
3. There is still time to sign up for adaptive leadership training at Kansas Leadership Center in 2019, before sessions fill up!
To apply for free registration for a KLC training program in 2019 through WDC’s Leadership Transformation Grant, use the attached WDC application form, and for more information see https://kansasleadershipcenter.org
. Please share this announcement with other members of your church who want to grow in their leadership skills, gain new tools to address complex challenges, and work together to make a positive difference in the church and wider community!
4. Leadership Lunches
continue on the fourth Thursday of each month. These lunch discussions are based on Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) principles, competencies, and behaviors, but please come even if you haven’t attended a KLC training. Case studies are used to guide our time together. Come join us on Thursday, June 27 at the WDC offices from 12-1:30pm (bring your own lunch). If you want to join via Zoom video conference, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org
), and you will be sent a link.
5. The WDC office and Conference Resource Library will be closed July 4-5 and 29.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
1. The fun is just beginning! Summer Youth Camps at Camp Mennoscah are stunning and we are thrilled we have 5 amazing camp weeks left. Campers are welcome to register for a week of faith, fun, and fellowship on the theme of Peace Works: Empowering Peacemakers. It’s an awesome time with worship, swimming, crafts, nature, and lots of friends! Register at campmennoscah.org
2. Young Adult Weekend on August 2-4! Young adults (18 and older) are invited to spend a weekend enjoying camp activities, worship, and fellowship. Attendees will share in preparing simple meals. Scholarships are available online in the registration process or contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 for information. Register at campmennoscah.org
3. Sing for Camp Mennoscah! We’re having our annual Camp Sing celebration of a stunning summer of youth camps on August 11 at Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in Inman, KS. We’ll start with a storytime from 5:45pm – 6:05pm, followed by joyous singing at 6:30pm. After joyfully worshiping in camp songs and hymns, we’ll share in popcorn, pop and conversation. All are invited, whatever your age or skill!
Mennonite church announcements
The Mennonite Piano Concerto by Victor Davies and performed by duo-pianists, Redekopp & Edwards, will be a featured evening event July 4, 2019 starting at 7:15 pm at MennoCon19, the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Kansas City. This one-time performance will feature Karin Redekopp Edwards of Lombard Mennonite Church and her duo-piano partner and husband, Mark Edwards. This special event will also feature a narration by Dale Schrag relating the story of the Russian Mennonites’ faith journey and the hymns that sustained them on their travels from Europe to Russia and eventually to the US and Canada. It will also feature an all-volunteer choir and audience participation conducted by Russell Adrian from the Hesston College music department and assisted by Rosi Penner Kaufman from Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City.
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.